Last Known Activity
Robert J. Biederman was born in 1921, in Colorado. His parents were Edward C. and Jennie Mae Stoneking Biederman. The US Census 1930 shows the family residing in Mead County, Colorado.
Biederman was drafted, and inducted into the military service. Assigned to the Army Air Forces, he was trained as an aerial gunner. He was sent overseas in 1944 to a bomber unit operating from Italy. He flew at least 25 missions.
On March 26, 1944, he was participating in a bombing mission on Steyr, Austria. As the aircraft neared the target area, flak guns scored hits on at least three engines of the aircraft. Several holes were shot in the wings and tail assembly. The pilot, still controlling the aircraft, turned to return home.
After reaching the Adriatic Sea, the aircraft began losing altitude, and the pilot knew he would have to ditch. When the aircraft struck the water, the pilot, navigator, and ball turret gunner got the forward life raft free, and climbed inside. The gunners could not free the aft raft, and the aircraft broke in two and sank, presumably drowning all the remaining crew.
The survivors attempted to row, then sail, toward the shore but made no headway. They spent a frigid, wet night in the raft. In the morning, a flight of P-38s spotted them,and called Air Rescue Service. A flying boat picked them up, and taxied to the nearest port as it couldn't manage a take-off.
SSgt Biederman was not recovered and is remembered on the Walls of the Missing in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuna, Italy. There is also a memory stone for him in the Mountain View Cemetery in Longmont, Colorado.
US Census 1930
SSgt Robert J. Biederman was acting as waist gunner on B-17G #42-31426, not named, assigned to the 352nd Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 3466 was issued, but the appended pilot's report gives details of the loss. Mission loading lists show the crew as:
2 Lt Guido D. Gianacovo p
2 Lt Howard R. Butcher c-p
2 Lt Wayne V. Halliday nav
2 Lt Harris R. Meadows bomb
TSgt Harry O. Tippens eng/tt gun
TSgt Otto T. Maulding, Jr. r/o
SSgt Edward A. Caseceli btg
SSgt Robert J. Biederman wg
TSgt Obie D. Mitchell tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.