Last Known Activity
Thomas D. "Teddy" Baer was born in Pennsylvania on October 9, 1917. No parentage has been established, and no early life or census records have been located.
Baer enlisted at the Presidio of Monterrey, California on October 14, 1941, as a private in the Army Air Forces. His enlistment record states he had completed 1 year of college (unnamed), and was employed as a carpenter. He was given training as an aerial gunner, and assigned to an operational unit for crew training. After training, he was assigned overseas.
Baer was an original member of the Reed crew, and flew 9 missions with that crew. He became part of a "pick-up" crew on March 6, 1944 for a bombing raid on the Bosch Magneto works at Berlin, Germany.
Over the target, the formation was attacked by numerous enemy aircraft. A firing pass riddled the aircraft, and Baer was mortally wounded. He was removed from his position by other gunners, and died in the aircraft. Another gunner took his place as tail gunner.
The aircraft was severely damaged, and suddenly took an upward surge. The tail assembly broke off as the aircraft exploded. The gunner was trapped in the tail gunner position, and fell to earth with the tail section. German troops found him alive, but severely injured. He spent almost a year in a hospital before being sent to a POW camp.
The dead were evidently recovered. They were buried in a local cemetery in Quakenburg, a town near the target area. After the war, they were retrieved and moved to other cemeteries. SSgt Baer is presently buried in the West Newton Cemetery in West Newton, Pennsylvania.
NARA Enlistment Records
SSgt Thomas D. Baer was acting as tail gunner on B-17G # 42-31731, unnamed, assigned to the 349th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 3019 was issued for the loss of this aircraft and crew. Crew rosters show the crew was composed of:
1 Lt Albert F. Amiero p
F/O Howard L. Kilmer c-p
2 Lt Albert P. Rule nav
SSgt Thomas S. Elliott togg
TSgt Russell G. Gilbert eng/tt gun
TSgt John J. Kovacs r/o
SSgt Virgil F. Summers btg
SSgt Hobart H. Spires wg
SSgt Owen D. Stockton wg
SSgt Thomas D. Baer tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
SSgt Owen Stockton was the only survivor