Earl, Robert W., 2nd Lt

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Second Lieutenant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 1054-Co-Pilot, Four-Engine Aircraft
Last AFSC Group
Pilot (Officer)
Primary Unit
1942-1942, AAF MOS 1054, 32nd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
Service Years
1941 - 1942
USAAFOfficer Collar Insignia
Second Lieutenant

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
Not Specified
This Military Service Page was created/owned by CMSgt Don Skinner-Deceased to remember Earl, Robert W., 2nd Lt.

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
32nd Bomb Squadron

Casualty Date
Nov 28, 1942
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Sea
Mediterranean Sea
World War II
Location of Interment
North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial - Carthage, Tunisia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Walls of the Missing

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
World War II Fallen
  1942, World War II Fallen

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Pilot Badge

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Aviation Cadet Flight School301st Bombardment Group, Heavy  32nd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
  1941-1942, Aviation Cadet Flight School
  1942-1942, AAF MOS 1054, 301st Bombardment Group, Heavy
  1942-1942, AAF MOS 1054, 32nd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1942 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Egypt-Libya Campaign (1942-43)
 My Aircraft/Missiles
B-17 Flying Fortress  
  1942-1942, B-17 Flying Fortress
 Additional Information

Last Known Activity
Robert W. Earl was supposedly born in California in 1917. His parents were Claude E. and Mabel O. Earl. The US Censuses 1930 and 1940 reflect the family living in Pasadena.

Earl enlisted as an Aviation Cadet at Los Angeles, California on October 31, 1941. He completed the pilot training course, was commissioned, awarded wings, and moved to transitional training on multi-engined aircraft. Later, he was assigned to a training unit in the U.S. before deploying overseas.

He was assigned as co-pilot to the B-17 combat crew commanded by Captain Bruce. He flew 5 credited missions with this crew. On November 28, 1942, the crew was tasked to take part in a raid on facilities around Bizerte, Tunisia. En route to the target area, the aircraft was shot down by enemy fighters. It crashed into the Mediterranean Seas. There were no survivors, and no bodies were recovered.

Lt Earl is memorialized on the Walls of the Missing in the North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia.

This loss, according to squadron records, was the first aircraft lost to enemy fighters by the 301st Bomb Group.

US Census 1930
US Census 1940
NARA Enlistment Records


Lt Robert Earl was the assigned co-pilot on B-17F # 41-24363, named "Bad Penny," assigned to the 32nd Bomb Squadron.

Missing Air Crew Report covers this aircraft/crew loss. Mission loading lists show the crew as:

Cpt John B. Bruce  p
2 Lt Robert Earl  c-p
2 Lt Charles Tannehill nav
2 Lt Charles Knop  bomb
SSgt Henry P. Hughes, Jr.  eng/tt gun
Sgt  Leonard McGriff  r/o
SSgt Alpheus Backus  wg
Sgt  Samuel Scott  wg
SSgt Merle Gilger tail gun

Ranks and grades as of mission date.

Sgt Gilger's name is listed as "Merle" in loading list; however, all other records specify "Merril."

The only known photo of this crew was taken in England where King George VI congratulated the crew. Individual identifications are not available.

The aircraft's name "Bad Penny" came from the axiom "A Bad Penny Always Comes Back."

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