21 February 1944, Target Luftwaffe in Werl, Germany, Wing Lead, 41st Combat B Wing. Crew makeup:
Rear L-R: George M. Marquardt (B), Clarence G. Stearns (P), Vernon R. McKittrick (N), Keith M. Garrison (N)
Front L-R: Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, Thomas J. Benson (R), William E. Buck (AC), Francis J. Witt (OBS)
COMMANDER BUCK, WILLIAM E, JR
PILOT STEARNS, CLARENCE GROVER
NAVIGATOR MCKITTRICK, VERNON RUSSELL
NAVIGATOR GARRISON, KEITH M
BOMBARDIER MARQUARDT, GEORGE MARVIN
RADIO OPERATOR BENSON, THOMAS JOSEPH
ENGINEER/TOP TURRET BARKHURST, DAVID LUTHER
BALL TURRET FULWIDER, ALBERT CLAYTON, JR
TAIL GUNNER WITT, FRANCIS JOHN, JR
FLEXIBLE GUNNER ROBISON, JOHN TIMOTHY
FLEXIBLE GUNNER MARTELL, WARREN HARDINE
Information from original site crew photos:
Original Crew 18, 547th BS:
2LT Francis J. Witt
F/O T. L. Carter
2LT Arthur C. Harris
2LT Joseph Derer
SSGT Edward A. Thomason (SO 70: THAMOSON)
SSGT Michael J. Vodilko
SSGT William F. Sears
SSGT Francis M. Seager
SSGT Claude R. Leslie
SSGT Rufus F. Douglas
Above verified with Gowen SO # 70, 11 MARCH 1943
Lt. Francis J. Witt commanded an original crew in the 547th Squadron, formed in March, 1943, at Wendover Field, Utah. On June 12, 1943, he and four of his crew were involved in a collision with the B-17 flown by LT Kowalski at Grafton-Underwood. Witt's crew survived, while the 5 men aboard Kowalski's aircraft were killed.
He flew missions from June of 1943 until March, 1944. Witt had to bail out on his first mission to Berlin on March 6th, 1944. [Note: Sortie reports Witt bailed out on his second mission to Berlin on March 4, 1944.] He managed to evade capture travelling across Belgium and France, eventually climbing the Pyrenees Mountains to freedom in Spain.
Lt. Witt remained in the Air Force and flew in the Berlin Airlift for approximately six months.
Original description, but mission is incorrect, is: Pictured above is the crew with which he flew as observer in the tail gun position on the first Berlin Mission. He is second from the right in the top row.
Original Site Crew Photos