Last Known Activity
Melvin Conrad Carlson was born near Sisseton, South Dakota on September 27, 1924. His parents were Carl August and Annie Carlson. The US Census 1930 shows the family living in Goodwill, South Dakota.
Carlson volunteered for military service in October, 1942, but was inducted on December 8, 1943 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. After basic training and aerial gunnery school, he was deployed overseas to England on February 10, 1945. He was assigned to the Lt Thomas combat crew as tail gunner. He flew 21 credited missions with this crew, beginning in February, 1945.
The designated target area on April 17, 1945 was the Freidrichstadt marshalling yards at Dresden, Germany. The aircraft was struck by flak north of Brux, Czechoslovakia. The #2 engine began smoking, and was feathered. The bombs were released on target on the third bomb run. Then, the aircraft slipped left and exploded. Six parachutes were observed. The aircraft wreckage fell near Dresden.
All crew members made it to the ground safely. Carlson was captured by civilians and then shot in the head by an unknown assailant. No one was ever charged with the murder.
In 1950, Carlson's grave was discovered, and the remains exhumed. They were sent to the American (Ardennes) Cemetery in Belgium, where he lies in Plot A, Row 44, Grave 83.
Note: The mission narrative states this crew was from the 360th Bomb Squadron; in fact, they were in the 427th Bomb Squadron.
US Census 1930
Sgt Melvin C. Carlson was the assigned tail gunner on B-17G #42-102504, named "Sack Time," assigned to the 427th Bomb squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 14169 was issued to cover this loss. Mission loading lists state the crew was:
2 Lt Blaine E. Thomas p
2 Lt Max R. Bartholomew c-p
F/O Jerry Bonanno nav
Sgt Gerald G. Eschinger tog
Sgt Harry W. Haynes eng/tt gun
Sgt Walter E. Smith r/o
Sgt Luis L. Contreras btg
Sgt Melvin C. Carlson tail gun
No waist gunner assigned.
Carlson and Eschinger were murdered on the ground; all others taken prisoner.
In the crew photo, Carlson is in the back row, 3rd from left.
Service photo source: