Last Known Activity
Richard L. Chelminiak was born in El Paso, Indiana in 1924. His parents were Leo and Helen Chelminiak.
Chelminiak enlisted in Chicago, Illinois on October 27, 1942. His NARA enlistment file states he had completed 3 years of high school, and was working as a sales clerk.
After basic training, he was trained as an aerial gunner, and assigned to a bomber unit in North Africa. He flew at least 15 missions. On January 21, 1944, he was part of a crew assigned to a raid on the airdrome located at Salon De Provence, France.
As the formation approached the target, the aircraft with Chelminiak aboard encountered trouble. For some reason, the # 3 engine began smoking. The pilot fell out of formation and was immediately attacked by enemy fighters as a straggler. Although hits were inflicted by the enemy, the aircraft appeared under control, yet began a slow, sweeping spiral, and was ditched or crashed about 20 miles south of Toulon, France.
Observers in the formation later stated that the crew was spotted in life rafts on a course to Marseilles, France. None were ever seen again. No remains were recovered. The crew was listed as Missing in Action and later, declared dead. Sgt. Chelminiak is remembered on the Walls of the Missing in the Rhone American Cemetery in Draguignan, France.
Star (South Bend, Indiana newspaper) issue of 23 March 1944, pg 2
Sgt Richard L. Chelminiak was acting as the ball turret gunner on B-17F # 42-30472, not named, assigned to the 353rd Bomb Squadron.
Mission loading list does not contain one crewman, but Missing Air Crew Report 1952 does. The MACR crew roster shows the crew as:
2 Lt Howard W. Ryan p
2 Lt Paul C. Peters c-p
1 Lt Alvin P. Goldstein nav
2 Lt Baldwin J. Krober bomb
TSgt Kenneth E. Canady eng/tt gun
TSgt Joseph J. Buschko r/o
Sgt Richard L. Chelminiak btg
SSgt Harley A. Kelly wg
SSgt James T. McBride tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
TSgt Kenneth E. Canady is not listed on the loading lists in 301st Bomb Group records.