Last Known Activity
Melvin Alderman was born on May 14, 1918 in South Dakota. His parents were Louis P. and Pauline Alderman. (Some census data lists her as "Paulino." ) The 1935 South Dakota Census lists the family in South Dakota, while the US Census 1940 has them residing in Cassellton, North Dakota.
No enlistment record has been located, but judging by rank, experience, and training, it is assumable that he enlisted in military service in 1943. He received pilot training and further training as a pilot on multi-engined aircraft.
After a leave in December, 1944, he deployed to England and was assigned as co-pilot on the combat crew led by Lt Smith. He flew 32 missions starting in December, 1944. He flew as co-pilot until March, 1945 when he was upgraded to First Pilot.
On April 6, 1945, he flew as pilot with the new Lt Roman Ley crew on their first mission. This was a bombing raid on the marshalling yards at Leipzig, Germany. As the aircraft departed the IP, it collided with another aircraft. It fell from formation, and exploded in mid-air. No parachutes observed.
German troops retrieved eight bodies from the wreckage, near Teplitz, Germany. (Some accounts say "Loessnitz.") These were buried in local cemeteries. After the war ended, they were recovered, and some were moved to the American cemeteries in Europe; others were sent to the U.S. At least six members, two of the Alderman crew, were buried in a common grave at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Kentucky, where they lie in Section I, Site 96-98.
U.S. Evangical Lutheran Church of America Records, 1875-1947
US Census 1940
South Dakota Census 1935
Lt Melvin Alderman was the pilot of B-17G #43-38958, nicknamed "Green Hill Belle," assigned to the 427th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 13719 details this loss. Mission loading lists show the crew as:
2 Lt Melvin Alderman p
2 Lt Roman M. Ley c-p
F/O George S. Thomas nav
2 Lt Howard G. Weinberg bomb
Cpl Raoul R. Prieto eng/tt gun
Cpl William M. Toler r/o
Sgt Don Beebe btg
Cpl Jesse M. Moore tail gun
No waist gunner assigned.
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
In the Smith crew photo, Alderman is in the back row, at right.
Service photo source: