2LT John Peter Mockus
368th Sq 306th BGH, B 17 Co-Pilot
Killed in Action 15 Dec, 1944
Returning to England
-- Mary Mockus Shipler --
Kassel was a tough mission on 15 December, the target was completely obscured and the bombs were
dropped by radar. The weather was bad on return to England and at about 2100 feet the 368th
plane of 2nd Lt Charles A. Crooks collided with the 423rd plane of 2nd Lt Lorn a Wilke.
Both planes crashed at Greenham Commom, killing all but two of the men. Wilke remembers hearing a
loud noise, followed by an explosion. His plane blew apart at the cockpit and he his copilot,
1st Lt John A. Murphy, escaped. Because of the bad weather, the collision was unobserved
by other flyers in the formation. My father and all aboard his plane were killed.
Members were: pilot, Lt Crooks; navigator, 2nd Lt Elijah B. Slocum; nose gunner, T/Sgt. Harold
A. Polderman; radio, Sgt Albert W. Seaberg; engineer, S/Sgt Wayne F. Laubert; ball gunner, Sgt
Joseph M. Mandula; waist gunner, Sgt Lloyd Cain; tail gunner, Sgt Richard W. Miller. This
explanation of the crash is taken from the book by Russell Strong, First Over Germany.
Unlike many of the unhappy stories of the orphan children of WWII, my mother remarried when I was
three, a man who I called father all my life, and he made sure that my brother and I remained a part
of my fatherČs family forever.
My father was only 24 when he died. I was born 3 weeks after his death and my brother, Pat, was 16
months old. It wasnČt until my brother and I visited his grave in England in 1994, 50 years after his
death, that we realized we had lost our father. I didnČt understand the grief we felt for a man we
never knew until I found AWON.....Thank you Annie.