Last Known Activity
Arthur I. Adams was born on December15, 1920, in Oregon. He was the son of John W. and Emily Jane Law Adams. Nothing concerning his early life has been located, and there is no NARA enlistment form in the database. But because of his birth date, rank, and his assignments, it may be assumed he entered service in 1941.
The first official mention found in military records is his assignment to the 303rd Bomb Group, in training, on July 26, 1942. The unit was at Gowen Field, Idaho, training for formation flying. Later, it moved to Biggs Field, Texas, to prepare for deployment to England.
The personnel records and other documents of the 303rd reflect a large number of discrepancies as to his rank. The combat crew photo of him and his original crew shows he was a 1 Lt. The activity summary below the photo calls him "Captain" twice. More amazing is the personnel index and mission summary that states on July 26, 1942, he was a 1 Lt, but also states that on November 18, 1942, he was a 2 Lt. His gravestone states 1 Lt.
He and his crew flew 3 missions, with one abort. On January 3, 1943, he was part of a raid that bombed the torpedo storage sheds at St. Naizaire, France. The flak was intense over the target, and approximately 35-40 German fighters from 7/JG2 attacked.
Adams' aircraft took a direct flak hit in the belly turret, badly wounding the gunner. It was hit by another flak burst, and an FW-190 shot most of the right wing off with cannon fire. Several of the crew were wounded, but bailed out, to become POWs for the duration. One, Sgt Magee, was blown from the ship without a parachute, fell 22,000 feet, and landed on the glass dome of the railway station. Although badly injured, he survived and was a POW. Seven of the crew were killed.
The remains of the aircraft crashed near La Baules Pins, France. The subsequent events concerning Lt Adams' remains are uncertain but he has a gravestone in the Elgin Cemetery in Elgin, Oregon. The American Battlefield Monuments Commission has no record of an overseas burial.
USAAC-USAAF Aircraft Inventory Reports
The aircraft involved in this incident was B-17F #41-24620, nicknamed "Snap! Crackle! Pop!," with appropriate nose art. It was named by Captain Jacob Fredericks who worked for Kellogg's Company before the war, and flew the aircraft to England.
Missing Air Crew Report 15464 was issued, and identifies the crew as:
1 Lt Arthur I. Adams p
2 Lt Gene A. Witterstetter c-p
2 Lt Glen W. Herrington nav
2 Lt Michael L. Libonati bomb
TSgt Lews C. Hart eng/tt gun
TSgt Alfred M. Union r/o
SSgt Alan Magee btg
Sgt Marion L. Milam lwg
SSgt Edward W. Durant rwd
SSgt James I. Gordon tail gun
Herrington, Magee, and Gordon were the survivors. All other crew members killed.
In the crew photo, members are:
Adams, Libonati, Herrington
Front Row (L-R)
Members of original crew, but only Union (third from left) is identified.