On March 18, 1944, Lts. Biesecker and Breedlove and their crew climbed aboard B-17G serial number 42-37925 (fuselage codes FC-K , named “Rick-O-Shay III”) on hardstand #4 between 0700 and 0730 hours. They would be joining 20 other Group aircraft to attack an aircraft factory at Augsburg in southern Germany. Their regular navigator, Lt. Charles Marshall was replaced by Lt. Irving Nordendahl, a common practice when a crew member was unavailable.
Aircraft #925 was airborne at 0932 according to the Control Tower log and eventually dropped its bombs on an airfield near the primary target at 1413 hours because the factory was not visible. During the return journey the Group was attacked by enemy fighters and at 1519 hours. Aircraft #925 peeled off to the left and went down in a slow spiral with #1 and #2 engines on fire (left wing). Suddenly, the aircraft exploded in mid-air and one or two chutes were reported as being seen by returning crews. Missing Aircrew report (MACR) #3182 indicates the aircraft was attacked by six Me109 Luftwaffe fighters and 3 crew members actually bailed out before the plane crashed at 1550 hours at Wallburg near Ettenheim, Germany.
Floyd Breedlove earned the Air Medal, with 3 oak leaf clusters, and the Purple Heart for his services. He is buried in the Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold France (Plot J, Row 26, Grave 38), along with 4 members of Crew #61 and Lt. Nordendahl.
571st Bombardment Squadron/390th Bomber Group
The 390th Bomber Group was activated in March of 1943 at Geiger Field in Spokane, Washington. By July 1943, the group had grown to 375 officers and enlisted men and was organized into four squadrons, one of which was the 571st Bombardier Squadron. The group was ordered overseas to Station 153, located at Framlingham Airfield, Suffolk, United Kingdom, and began flying missions August 12, 1943. The 390th participated in the Schweinfurt-Regensburg Missions, which resulted in a Presidential Unit Citation, but heavy losses to the 8th Air Force.
Lt. Floyd Breedlove, copilot to Lt.Robert W. Biesecker, and their ten-man crew arrived as replacements at Framlingham airfield on October 13, 1943, and were assigned to the 571stBombardment Squadron. Each new crew was given a number when they joined their respective Squadron and Lt.Biesecker’s crew became known as Crew #37. There had been one previous Crew #37 but they were MIA on October 10, 1943, during a mission to Munster, Germany. The crew was accommodated in Nissen (Quonset) huts on the 571st Living Site – known as Site #1 – at the western extremity of the airfield.In November 1943, as part of the Eighth Air Force’s expansion program, the size of each Bomb Group was doubled in terms of aircrew and planes. Framlingham saw the arrival of 30 new B-17s and 35 crews during the month. As a result of this dramatic increase the Crew designation numbers had to change; thus Crew #37 became Crew #61 for Lts. Biesecker and Breedlove. Crew #37 flew their first mission on November 3, 1943, and by 26th of that month had completed four missions when they became Crew #61.
The photos (click on each to enlarge) above show the location of the 3 crash sites.
Here crashed on March 18, 1944 a 4-engined bomber of the USAAF type B17 (# 42-37925) with the Name “Rick-O-Shay III”. 7 of the 10 crew members were killed. The remaining 3 men of the crew became prisoners of war and returned after the war back to their homeland.
On that day, two more USAF bombers crashed over the woods of Ettenheimmünster.
One of the crash sites is located approx. 150m above the Köcherhof hut (UTM / WGS84 32 U 0418030 / N 5344910)
The other one is about 600m south of here, (UTM / WGS84 32 U 0417420 / N 5344840)
In 2018 the post received a communication from Burkhard Singler living in a small town close to the crash site. He belongs to a small historical club that has done a lot or research on the 3 different planes that crashed that day.
US Army Air Force
When the United States entered World War II, Floyd Breedlove enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1942. He attended flight training at the Marfa Army Air Base, Army Air Forces Advanced Flying School in Marfa, TX. The photo at right (Breedlove front left) was taken in 1943 during flight school. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant (2LT) in the US Army Air Corps, Floyd Breedlove was transferred in May to the Army Air Field in Moses Lake, Washington.
Early Life - Katy Texas
Floyd E. Breedlove was born in Katy, Texas, to J. Edson and Ethel Breedlove in January 1917. His father, Edson, worked as a mechanic at a garage in town. Edson passed away in 1929, leaving his mother, Ethel, to raise Floyd and his sister, Olive. They lived and grew up in what is now considered "Old Katy" and attended public schools, with Floyd graduating from Katy High School in 1934.
Beginning summer of 1935, he attended Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College in College Station from 1935-1936. While in college, he studied Mechanical Engineering and Agricultural Education. The photo on the left shows Floyd Breedlove circa 1938.
Following college, Floyd Breedlove worked for the National Geophysical Company in 1939 and again in 1941. In 1941, he began civilian flight training in Longview, Texas.