S/SGT Donald E. Boettcher
15th Army Air Corps 55th Bomb Wing
485th Bomb Group 828th Squadron Combat Crew 7
Died of war injuries 1-4-48, after 52 missions
-- Terry Boettcher --
My father, S/SGT Donald E. Boettcher, was born 4-1-24 in Davenport, Iowa and was the youngest of
three brothers. He attended Davenport Central High School and participated in track, football
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on 24 October, '42. After completion of gunnery school in Salt Lake City,
he was sent to York, Nebraska where his group was being formed. Because of his size, he was given the "ball
turret" position. He trained on both B-17's and B-24's. The 15th AAF was stationed in Italy and the 485th
was sent to an airbase at Venosa.
During his combat service, all his time was spent on B-24's. My father flew 52 combat missions including 7
to the Ploesti Oil Fields and one terrifying mission to the Vienna Florisdorf Oil Refinery. The Vienna raid
was on 26 June, '44.
The 36 B-24's flew through the fire of 475 enemy flak guns and were attacked by 40 German fighters. The gunners
were credited with 8 enemy fighters and 3 probables. The 485th lost one aircraft and one missing but completed
their mission. My father's ball turret glass was smashed by flak and a piece of steel cut his oxygen mask line.
After landing, crew members counted approximately 150 holes in the aircraft. For this action, the 485th was
awarded the Presidental Unit Citation.
The B-24, Red Letter "N" 42-52720, crashed on take off that June, which threw my father against the ball turret
support, injuring his back. He was under constant medication but still completed his missions. He was in and out
of hospitals in Europe as his condition became worse. After his return home he moved to Des Moines, Iowa to be
near the Veterans Hospital. During this period of time, he met my mother, got married and I was born.
Just prior to Christmas '47 he was admitted to the hospital but died of kidney failure on 1-4-48. My father was
just short of 24 years old, my mother 20 and I was 6 months old. My father was always bigger than life to me
Even though I have lived over twice as long as he, his service record is a great source of pride to me even today.
He completed 52 missions, had 2 confirmed kills and 2 probables, awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air
Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, 7 Bronze Battle Stars and the Presidental Unit Citation.
I have dearly missed him growing up but take great pride in being his son. May he rest in peace.
by David Childers
There is a wheat field in Venosa
Where the Bombers fly no more
The tin can houses torn down
Fifty years work done
There's a farmer in Venosa
Working in Italy's sun
In the place where as a young man
My Father stood
And there is a calmness in Venosa
That the flyers never knew
A breeze from the peaceful sea
In a foreign afternoon