Last Known Activity
Ira E. Arnold was born in Kent, Texas on March 7, 1922 to James E. and Katherine Taylor Arnold. The US Census 1930 lists the family in Precinct 1, Perry, Texas, while the US Census 1940 has them in Cochron, Texas.
Arnold enlisted as a private in the US Army Air Forces in 1942. He was selected for flight duty, and received training as a flight engineer and as an aerial gunner. He was then assigned to crew training. The crew deployed to England, arriving on February 20, 1944. Soon after arriving, the crew was broken up.
On July 29, 1944, a "pick-up" crew headed by Lt William T. Fitzroy was scheduled to bomb the oil facilities at Merseberg, Germany. Flak was intense over the target, and the aircraft was hit, suffering severe damage. Fitzroy pulled out of formation, and was attacked by enemy fighters as a straggler. TSgt Roberto, radio operator, was killed by a 20mm shell in the attack.
The aircraft crashed, and the 8 remaining crewmen survived. Five were captured by German troops and became POWs. The remaining three were captured by civilians, and hanged. They were buried locally, and retrieved after the war. Today, TSgt Arnold lies in the Fort Bliss National Cemetery i Fort Bliss, Texas in Section E, Site 9632.
US Census 1930
US Census 1940
TSgt Ira E. Arnold was acting as flight engineer and top turret gunner on B-17G # 42-31537, named "Randie Lou," (also known as "Buffalo Gal") assigned to the 350th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 7809 covers this loss. Crew rosters show the crew as:
2 Lt William T. Fitzroy p
2 Lt Robert Dykeman c-p
2 Lt Floyd E. Hartman nav
TSgt Floyd O. Douglas tog
TSgt Ira E. Arnold eng/tt gun
TSgt Carmine V. Roberto r/o
SSgt Bernard L. Spragg btg
Sgt Frank W. Buschmeier Lwg
Sgt Joseph P. O'Connell tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
Dykeman, Douglas, and Arnold were hanged. Roberto killed in plane. Others were POWs.
In the crew photo of the original Gibbons crew, Arnold is in the front row, at left.
Service photo source: