Last Known Activity
Ward V. Phillips was born in Alabama in 1921. His parents were Ward V. Sr., and Leah Phillips. The US Census 1940 shows the family residing in Summerville, Alabama.
Phillips was drafted and inducted into the US Army Air Forces on June 23, 1942 at Fort McClellan, Alabama. His papers show he had completed 4 years of high school, and was employed as sales person.
He was selected for flight duty, then trained as an aerial gunner. After this course of instruction, he was assigned overseas to a bomber unit in North Africa. He flew at least 15 missions, according to traditions of that time.
On January 11, 1944, he was part of a crew sent to bomb installations at the Piraeus, Greece harbor. Inclement weather was encountered as the formation neared the target. In cloudy skies (10/10), excessive winds aloft, and icing conditions, two of the lead aircraft decided to abort. They turned, but right across the path of the on-coming second element.
Two pairs of B-17s collided and crashed, killing a great number of airmen. The dead must have been recovered and buried locally because after the war ended, the bodies were buried in a mass common grave located in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. Most of the airmen killed that day were buried in this grave, whose marker is in Section 79, Site 434-436.
US Census 1940
NARA Enlistment Records
SSgt Ward V. Phillips was the waist gunner on B-17G # 42-31396, not named, assigned to the 353rd Bomb Squadron.
Mission loading lists are not available, but a crew roster may be gathered from Missing Air Crew Report 1833, that was issued for this loss. The crew was:
1 Lt Joseph S. Dunbar p
Cpt Homer G. Mills, Jr. c-p
2 Lt Reed W. Dean nav
1 Lt Charles R. Glenn bomb
SSgt Don E. Brundage eng/tt gun
TSgt Hilary F. Helsabeck r/o
SSgt Adolph G. Bauman btg
SSgt Ward V. Phillips wg
SSgt Loren C. Bowns tail gunner
Ranks and grades as of mission date.