Last Known Activity
John W. Day was born on August 4, 1921, in New Rockford, North Dakota to Warren D. and Elizabeth O'Keefe Day. Both the US Censuses 1930 and 1940 show the family residing in New Rockford.
Day enlisted at Fort Snelling, Minnesota on August 6, 1942. He had completed 4 years of high school, and was working as a sales clerk.
Picked for flight duty, he was trained as an aerial gunner. He was then assigned to a unit in North Africa. No listing of missions flown have been located for Day, but according to Air Medal count, he flew at least 30 missions.
On January 11, 1944, he was acting as the waist gunner on a combat crew taking part in a raid on the harbor facilities at Piraeus, Greece. While on the way to the target area, the formation was forced to fly into a dense cloud bank. Inside the clouds were excessive winds, and icing conditions were noted. Two of the leading element aircraft decided to abort, but turned across the path of the on-coming second element.
Accounts vary. It is stated that the 2 B-17s almost collided, but Williams was forced to bank steeply to the left, causing him to lose control and crash. Another source states Williams' aircraft actually hit one of the aircraft and exploded. The wreckage fell near Poretso, Greece.
All of the dead were retrieved by monks from a near-by monastery, and buried locally. The grave was not located until 1946, and the bodies were returned to the U.S. for burial. Four are buried in a common grave in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery; 2 are buried in the Long Island National Cemetery in a common grave; and SSgt Day is buried in the Saint John's Cemetery in New Rockford, North Dakota. His grave is at Block 5, Lot 12, Grave L.
NOTE: American Battlefield Monuments Commission has a listing stating he is buried in Italy. The grave in New Rockford could be a memory stone.
US Census 1930
US Census 1940
NARA Enlistment Records
SSgt John W. Day was acting as the waist gunner on B-17F # 42-30357, not named. This aircraft is listed in the MACR as being from the 353rd Bomb Squadron, but it is not on their listing of aircraft.
Missing Air Crew Report 1831 was issued for this loss. 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 survived, but became POWs.