Last Known Activity
Herbert D. Link was born in Moreland, Idaho on September 22, 1922 (NARA states 1921) to Theodore E. and Christina Charlotte Gohl Link. The US Census 1930 has the family in Meridian, Idaho while the US Census 1940 shows the family in Lone Tree, Idaho.
Link was inducted into the service on February 24, 1944 at Boise, Idaho. His enlistment records state he had completed 4 years of high school, was married, and worked as a general farm hand. He had married Joyce Elaine Kyle in Boise, Idaho on July 3, 1943.
He received training as an aerial gunner, and was assigned to the combat crew of Lt Barrat in December, 1944. He flew 20 credited missions with this crew, the first on December 9, 1944.
The target designated for February 9, 1945 was the synthetic oil plant located at Lutzendorf, Germany. As the aircraft turned toward the IP prior to making the bomb run, it was struck by another B-17 of the formation. The entire tail assembly, from the waist gunner's position to the tail, was sheared off. Somehow, the tail gunner got free and made a parachute landing, only to be captured by civilians and turned over to German authorities. He remained a POW until war's end.
The forward half of the aircraft dove toward the center of a small village named Eisenberg. At the last moment, the pilot and co-pilot succeeded in getting the plane level, and aimed for an empty field. Here, the bomb load was salvoed, missing the town. The aircraft hit the ground and exploded.
German records show that eight bodies (two unidentifiable) were recovered from the wreckage. These were buried in a local cemetery. After the war, these bodies were claimed and identified using new methods and returned to the U.S. for burial. Sgt Link and five of the crew were buried at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri in Section 82, Site 93D.
In 1991, rings belonging to the pilot and navigator were recovered from the crash site.
In 1995, the townspeople of Eisenberg erected a monument to the gallant crew that chose to save their town.
NARA Enlistment Records
US Census 1930
US Census 1940
Sgt Herbert D. Link was the assigned waist gunner on B-17G #43-39149, no name, assigned to the 427th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report was issued with the details of this incident. 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, Link is in the front row, at left.
Service photo source: