Last Known Activity
Melvin Gilbert Eschinger was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 7, 1920 to Edward L. and Elva E. Eschinger. The US Census 1930 shows the family still in Philadelphia.
Eschinger was inducted into military service on October 11, 1943 in Philadelphia. He was trained as a togglier, and shipped overseas, arriving in England in February, 1945. He was assigned to the crew headed by Lt Thomas, flying all 21 credited missions with this crew.
On April 17, 1945, the crew took part in a raid on the Friedrichstadt, Germany marshalling yards. The aircraft was hit by flak north of Brux, Czechoslovakia. The #2 engine began smoking, and was feathered. On the third bomb run, all bombs were released. The aircraft then suddenly slipped to the left and exploded, At least 6 parachutes were observed. The wreckage fell near Dresden.
All crew members reached the ground safely, but Eschinger was captured by angry civilians. Air Defense Guard Helmut Orb shot him in the back, killing him. No one was ever prosecuted for this murder. Another crew member (Carlson) was also killed; the others went to POW camps.
Eschinger was moved after the war to the American (Ardennes) Cemetery in Belgium where he lies in Plot C, Row 23, Grave 10.
The entire $500 WWII Death Bonus was requested, and paid, in 1951 by his wife Stella Chaison who signed as "Remarried widow."
US Census 1930
Headstone Inscription and Interment Record card
PA Veteran's Compensation Files, 1951-1959
PA Church and City Records, 1908-1986 (Baptism)
SSgt Edward G. Eschinger was assigned as the togglier (enlisted bombardier) on B-17G #42-102504, named "Sack Time," assigned to the 427th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 14168 was issued to detail this loss. Mission loading lists show the crew as:
2 Lt Blaine E. Thomas p
2 Lt Max R. Batholomew c-p
F/O Joseph Bonanno nav
Sgt Edward 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.
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
In the crew photo, Eschinger is in the back row, 4th from left.
Service photo source: