Last Known Activity
Robert E. Greenwell was born in Cairo, Illinois on October 18, 1917. His parents were George Alphonse and Catherine Siddel Redman Greenwell. The US Census 1920 has the family living in Cairo, Illinois. The US Census 1940 shows them in rural Justice County, Texas.
Greenwell enlisted in Dallas, Texas on August 20, 1941 as an aviation cadet. His NARA enlistment file states he had completed 3 years of college (unnamed), and that his civilian occupation fell within the "actor" category.
He was trained as a bombardier. Upon completion of this course, he was commissioned, awarded wings, and was made an instructor at Midland, Texas. After duty in North Dakota, he was sent to England, then to North Africa where he flew at least 40 combat missions.
On November 16, 1943, the crew received orders to bomb the German war facilities at Istres Le Tune, France Base. As the formation neared the target, a flak burst set # 4 engine afire. The pilot tried to feather it, but to no avail. Then, enemy fighters swept in and shot the B-17 down. It went into a steep glide and impacted the water about 20 miles from Marseilles, France.
Captain Greenwell is memorialized on the Walls of the missing at the Rhone American Cemetery in Draguignan, France. There is also a stone in his memory in the Mound City National Cemetery in Mound City, Illinois.
US Census 1920
US Census 1940
NARA Enlistment Records
Captain Robert E. Greenwell was serving as bombardier on B-17F # 42-30419, unnamed, assigned to the 419th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 1127 pertains to this loss. Mission loading lists show the crew as:
1 Lt Oliver A. Westbrook p
2 Lt Myron H. Meredith c-p
2 Lt Donald W. Mabry nav
Cpt Robert E. Greenwell bomb
TSgt Charles S. Price eng/tt gun
TSgt John A. Proetti r/o
SSgt George L. Altmeyer btg
SSgt Hiland T. Elam wg
SSgt Walter Chenkus tail gun
TSgt Edwin W. Rueffer r/o
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
No explanation in MACR as to why 2 radio operators.
Service Photo source: