Harkey, Thomas H., SSgt

 Service Photo   Service Details
View Time Line
Last Rank
Staff Sergeant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 611-Aerial Gunner
Last AFSC Group
Air Crew (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1943-1944, AAF MOS 611, 353rd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
Service Years
1942 - 1944
USAAFEnlisted Collar Insignia
Staff Sergeant

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
North Carolina
North Carolina
Year of Birth
Not Specified
This Military Service Page was created/owned by CMSgt Don Skinner-Deceased to remember Harkey, Thomas H., SSgt.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
353rd Bomb Squadron
Cerignola, Italy

Casualty Date
Jan 11, 1944
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
World War II
Location of Interment
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery - St. Louis, Missouri
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Section 82, Site 28

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
World War II Fallen
  1944, World War II Fallen

 Ribbon Bar

Aerial Gunner Badge

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)301st Bombardment Group, Heavy  353rd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
  1942-1943, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)
  1943-1943, AAF MOS 611, 301st Bombardment Group, Heavy
  1943-1944, AAF MOS 611, 301st Bombardment Group, Heavy
  1943-1944, AAF MOS 611, 353rd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1945 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater
  1943-1943 Air Offensive, Europe Campaign (1942-44)/Operation Strangle
  1944-1944 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Anzio Campaign (1944)
 My Aircraft/Missiles
B-17 Flying Fortress  
  1943-1944, B-17 Flying Fortress
 Additional Information

Last Known Activity
Thomas H. Harkey was born in North Carolina in 1921. His parents were John D. and Hope E. Harkey. The US Census 1930 shows the family in Chambersburg, North Carolina.

Harkey enlisted at Fort Jackson, South Carolina on July 8, 1942. He had completed 4 years of high school, and was employed in the textile manufacturing business.

Trained as an aerial gunner, he was assigned to North Africa in 1943. It is believed he was not an original member of the Williams' crew. According to records, he flew at least 20 missions.

On January 11, 1944, he and the Williams' crew were part of a bombing raid on the Piraeus Harbor, Greece, facilities. On the way to the target, the formation encountered and entered a large cloud bank. Inside the clouds, the winds were excessive, and icing conditions existed. Two of the leading element decided to abort, but turned across the second formation's path.

Another account states he actually collided with another aircraft, causing an explosion, and the crash.

Accounts vary, and one states the two B-17s almost collided, and Williams, in his haste to avoid another collision, banked his aircraft steeply, lost control, and entered a steep dive. The aircraft crashed near Poretso, Greece, killing all but three of the crew.

The dead were recovered by monks from a monastery and buried locally. The grave was not located until 1946. At that time, the bodies were retrieved and four of the crew, including Harkey, are buried in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. The common grave is in Section 82, Site 28.

US Census 1930
NARA Enlistment Records


SSgt Thomas H. Harkey was acting as the ball turret gunner on B-17F # 42-30357, not named. Records state the aircraft was assigned to the 353rd Bomb Squadron, but is not on the squadron's list of aircraft.

Missing Air Crew Report 1831 was issued, but gives very few details. Mission loading lists show the crew as:

1 Lt Richard D. Williams  p
2 Lt Thomas A. Shields  c-p
2 Lt Neil F. Daley  nav
2 Lt Jerome Elkin  bomb
SSgt Roland A. Ruisseau  eng/tt gun
TSgt Foster D. Rappleye  r/o
SSgt Thomas H. Harkey  btg
SSgt John W, Day  wg
SSgt James H. Young  tail gun
Sgt  Monte Ogens  photo

Ranks and grades as of mission date.

Elkin, Rappleye, and Ogens were the only survivors. They were captured and remained POWs until war's end.

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