Von Luehrte, Robert C., 1st Lt

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Last Rank
First Lieutenant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
M 1091-Pilot, B-17
Last AFSC Group
Primary Unit
1948-1949, 317th Troop Carrier Group
Service Years
1942 - 1949
First Lieutenant

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Sgt Skip Kimbrow to remember Von Luehrte, Robert C., 1st Lt.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address
West Germany

Date of Passing
Jul 12, 1949
Location of Interment
Hillcrest Memorial Park - Lexington, Kentucky
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Berlin Airlift Veterans AssociationIn the Line of Duty
  2013, Berlin Airlift Veterans Association
  2016, In the Line of Duty

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Profile incomplete:  Service details.

1st Lt. Von Luehrte graduated from Advanced Flight Training (TE), Marfa Army Air Field, Texas Class 43-I on 1 October 1943.  He received further  training at the Northeastern Training Center of the Army Air Corps, Lockbourne Army Air Base.

In the ETO, he flew 51 bombing missions over Occupied Europe during WWII. (Details unknown at this time.)

In 1948 and 1949, when the Soviets cut off road access to Berlin, American and British air crews flew millions of pounds of food, medicine, fuel and other commodities to the people in the German capitol. The airlift became known as perhaps the greatest humanitarian effort in history, and as the keystone of Western opposition to the Soviets controlling all of Berlin, all of German and ultimately, all of Europe. Some believe it eliminated World War III. The airlift was a reality because pilots such as Von Luehrte flew around the clock, in all kinds of weather, and sometimes without sleeping for days.

During the Berlin Airlift, he flew with the 40th Troop Carrier Squadron, 317th Troop Carrier Wing.

On 12 July 1949, Lt. Von Luehrte's crew was transporting a load of coal out of Celle RAF Station when his plane developed engine trouble. Rather than crashing in a populated area, he ditched the aircraft in Russian-held territory, and was killed in the mishap. The crash occurred 56 km (35 miles) west of Berlin.

Crewmen killed in the crash were:
1st Lt. Robert C. Von Luehrte, (pilot) Covington, Kentucky
2nd Lt. Donald J. Leemon,  (co-pilot) Green Bay, Wisconsin (see photo)  (Interred Ft. Howard Memorial Park in Greenbay)
T/Sgt. Herbert F. Heinig, (flight engineer) Fort Wayne, Indiana (see photo)

The crew flew with the 40th Troop Carrier Squadron, 317th Troop Carrier Group, 1st Air Lift Task Force.

He was 26 years old and left a wife and a 15-month-old daughter. He was interred at Highland Cemetery, Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, (Section 19, Lot 74).
Other Comments:

http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19490712-2 http://www.usaf317thvet.org/memorial.html

"With the beginning of the Berlin Airlift in 1948 this, however, changed radically. The Western allies, the United States, the United Kingdom and France, were looking for additional air bases that could be utilised for the airlift. Strategically, Celle offered favourable conditions for supply flights being located at the end of the middle air corridor to Berlin and having the shortest distance to Berlin. Unlike other air bases, Celle was not completely handed over to the United States Air Force but remained under the control of the Royal Air Force even though the aircraft using the airfield were American.

After RAF Fassberg and RAF Wunstorf Celle became the third base in the region to serve in the airlift. USAF 317th Troop Carrier Wing (Hvy) equipped with Douglas C-54 Skymaster were stationed on the air base at the end of 1948 and transported mostly coal to Berlin. In order to cope with the enormous traffic the air base was extended, receiving an unusually long (about 300 metres) rail siding and, for the first time, a runway with an asphalt surface.

At the beginning of the airlift a total of 600 tons of freight were transported into the besieged city which increased to 1000 tons of coal and food each day in the spring of 1949. The American forces were assisted by 5000 German workers in this undertaking. In order to house them, north of the barracks a huge housing area consisting of Nissen huts was built....

From the time the 40th began operating at Wiesbaden/RAF Celle until shortly after the Berlin blockade was lifted the following summer, the Squadron flew approximately 10,550 round trips to Berlin transporting a grand total of 100,000 tons of supplies into the besieged city. (Wiesbaden, Germany, 16 Nov 1948; Celle RAF Station, Germany, 15 Dec 1948-14 Sep 1949.)

Next to the road leading to Celle Air Base, a monument in memory of the support given by Celle to the Berlin Airlift was erected by the city of Celle in 1988."
       Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celle_Air_Base (edited)
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 Unit Assignments
USAAF Installations40th Troop Carrier SquadronTroop Carrier Units
  1943-1943, Marfa Army Air Field
  1948-1949, 40th Troop Carrier Squadron
  1948-1949, 317th Troop Carrier Group
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1944-1944 European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Rhineland Campaign (1944-45)
  1945-1945 European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Central Europe Campaign (1945)
  1948-1949 Berlin Airlift (East Gemany)2
 My Aircraft/Missiles
B-17 Flying Fortress  C-54 Skymaster  
  1944-1945, B-17 Flying Fortress
  1948-1949, C-54 Skymaster
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