Last Known Activity
According to family history, Ernest F. Howell, Jr. was born in 1918 in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana to Ernest F., Sr. and Mary Jane Gipson Howell. This same source states that after high school, he helped his mother run a bus line there. It also states he entered the service in September, 1942.
No enlistment records could be located for Howell, but his first known assignment is with the 352nd Bomb Squadron in Italy. Family history states he was stationed in England for a few months, then moved to North Africa when he 301st Bomb Group split and moved. It is recorded that he flew 50 combat missions.
On July 26, 1944, he and his crew were assigned to bomb a German war facility in Weiner-Neudorf, Austria. As the formation entered Europe, the weather worsened, and a Recall was issued. No one in the formation heard the Recall, but the fighter escort did, and returned to base.
Not hearing Recall, the unprotected bombers proceeded to the target. On the bomb run, the formation was attacked by many enemy aircraft. Severely damaged, the Howell aircraft dropped out of formation. Another aircraft, piloted by Lt Kerr, also was damaged, and left the formation. The two aircraft collided, then exploded.
Wreckage of both aircraft landed near the village of Alland, Austria. There were only two survivors from Howell's crew, and both were taken prisoner. The dead were recovered from the wreckage and buried locally. After the war, they were retrieved and moved to other cemeteries. Lt Howell now lies in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium in Plot C. Row 18, Grave 19.
Lt Ernest F. Howell, Jr was the pilot on B-17G # 42-102929, not named, assigned to the 352nd Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 7143 was issued, but contains no details of the crash. Mission loading lists state the crew was composed of:
1 Lt Ernest F. Howell, Jr. p
1 Lt Howard L. Woodson c-p
1 Lt William A. Dawson nav
1 Lt William D. Campbell bomb
TSgt Jerome H. West eng/tt gun
TSgt John A. La Rosa r/o
SSgt Leonard R. Vodicka btg
SSgt Wayne W. Hammond wg
Sgt Frank B. Mears tail gun
Sgt John W. Bauman photo
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
Sgts La Rosa and Hammond were the only survivors.
Service photo source: