Last Known Activity
Raymond F. Reiss as born in Manhattan, New York in 1918, according to sources. The US Census 1920 and the US Census 1930 show the family in Manhattan. His parents were Frederick and Margaret A. Reiss. The US Census 1940 has Reiss living in Richmond, New York and employed as an assistant gardener.
He was inducted into the service in late 1943. He had completed 3 years of high school. He was trained as a flight engineer and an aerial gunner. He was assigned to the combat crew headed by Lt Robert J. Barrat in November, 1944. Reiss flew 19 mission with this crew, beginning December 9, 1944.
On February 9, 1945, the designated target was the synthetic oil plant at Lutzkendorf, Germany. As the aircraft turned onto the bomb run at the IP, it was struck by another B-17 and sliced in half. The tail assembly, from the waist gun positions to the end, was flung one way while the rest of the aircraft began dropping. Somehow, the tail gunner managed to get out and make a successful parachute landing, although he was captured by German civilians and was turned over to authorities.
As the front half of the bomber came down, it was apparent it would hit in the middle of a small village, Eisenberg. The pilot and co-pilot managed to level the part of aircraft and guide it beyond the town to an empty field. They salvoed the bombs into the field and prevented the loss of civilian lives. The aircraft then hit the ground and exploded.
German records reveal that eight bodies were recovered from the crash site, two of which were unidentifiable. All were buried n a local cemetery.
After the war's end, these bodies were recovered, identified by more recent means, and returned to the U.S. for burial. Six of the crew, including Reiss, were buried in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri on January 19, 1950 in Section 82, Site 93D.
NOTE: Although all other records reflect Reiss' rank as "Sergeant," the tombstone reads "Aviation Cadet."
NOTE: In 1991, rings belonging to the pilot and navigator were recovered from the crash site. In 1995, the townspeople of Eisenberg erected a monument honoring this gallant crew that ,in fact, saved their town.
NOTE: One source (www.armyairforces.com/Commemoration-Raymond-F-Reiss-in Eisenberg-Germany-m133808.aspx) narrative states the commemoration took place in Eisenberg on October 13, 2007on the 81st birthday of Raymond F. Reiss. This in conflict with his reported birthdate in 1918. More research to follow.
US Census 1920
US Census 1930
US Census 1940
Sgt (Aviation Cadet?) Raymond F. Reiss was the assigned flight engineer and top turret gunner on B-17G # 43-39149, no name, assigned to the 427th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 12229 details this event. Mission loading lists show the crew as:
2 Lt Robert J. Barrat p
2 Lt Dean Harvey c-p
F/O Shirl P. Best nav
Sgt William T. Karp tog
Sgt Raymond F. Reiss eng/tt gun
Sgt Matthew Lazarowicz r/o
Sgt Louis N. Linhart btg
Sgt Herbert D. Link wg
Sgt George H. Emerson tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
Emerson was the only survivor.
In the crew photo, Reiss is in the front row, 3rd from left.
Service photo source: