Last Known Activity
Robert Barrett Fassett was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 29, 1919 to Elisha W. and Nell Barrett Fassett. The US Census 1930 places the family in Chicago.
Fassett enlisted in the Army Air Forces on March 25, 1941 in Chicago. His enlistment papers show he enlisted for a thee year term, had completed 2 years of college (unnamed), and was employed as a sales clerk.
He received bombardier training, and was commissioned and awarded wings. He was assigned to the North African Theater of Operations in mid-1943, and was sent to a B-17 combat unit. He flew at least 20 missions with this unit.
On January 11, 1944, he was chosen as part of a crew assigned to bomb the Piraeus Harbor installations in Greece. As the formation neared the target, a large overcast was encountered, and the formation attempted to fly though it.
Winds were excessive, then icing conditions developed. Two of the lead aircraft decided to abort, but in turning back, they turned across the track of the second element. Two of the aircraft collided, shearing the tail section off the aircraft with Fassett aboard.
Somehow, the tail section "fluttered" to the ground 19,000 feet below, and landed in a small grove of trees. This allowed the tail gunner, trapped in the wreckage, to emerge unscathed. He was immediately captured.
The rest of the wreckage fell to earth, killing the others on board. Evidently, the bodies were recovered and buried locally. After the war, they were retrieved and sent to various cemeteries for burial. Lt Fasset now lies in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy in Plot I, Row 14, Grave 35.
US census 1930
NARA Enlistment Records
Lt Robert B. Fassett was the assigned bombardier on B-17F # 42-3098, named "Skippy," assigned to the 353rd Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 1832 was issued for this loss. There is no loading list, but a crew roster from the MACR shows the crew as:
Cpt Robert W. Goen, Jr. p
1 Lt Henry J. Sudol c-p
1 Lt Bruce E. Hicks nav
1 Lt Robert B. Fassett bomb
SSgt John A. Klemmer eng/tt gun
TSgt Lucio A. Pittoni r/o
SSgt Leonard E. Matkey btg
SSgt Eldon C. Steerman wg
SSgt James A. Raley
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
SSgt Raley was the only survivor.