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Bridges Crew 702
 Bridges Crew 702
Back row, left to right...
Wyman Bridges, pilot
John Tracey, co-pilot
Donald Plunkett, bombardier
Joseph Safier, navigator
Not in the photo...
Charles Hammer, tail gunner
Front row, left to right...
Bill Berger, radio operator
Carl Anderson, waist gunner
Horace Rose, ball turret gunner
John Barnett, asst engineer, waist gunner
Bill Garside, engineer, top turret gunner
Bridges Crew 702 Summary
The Bridges Crew was one of the original crews for the 492nd BG that trained in Alamogordo, New Mexico. They had transferred into the Group as crew 93 from the 331st CCTS (Combat Crew Training School) in Casper, Wyoming. No personnel changes were made. They were assigned to the 857th BS, designated as Crew 702.
Lt Wyman Bridges signed out for a B-24J, 44-40157. They nicknamed their ship, LUCKY LASS. In April 1944, they flew their assigned aircraft to North Pickenham, England, via the southern route. Their ground Crew Chief Sgt Salaun flew with them, thus bumping Sgt Hammer onto the Queen Elizabeth.
By our count, Lt Bridges flew as the aircraft commander for Crew 702 for a total of 28 missions plus an aborted one. Come 6 July, co-pilot Lt Tracey swapped places with Lt Gaines, pilot of Crew 715. Aside from the noted changes in this summary, no one missed any missions as the crew flew all of their missions together.
LUCKY LASS was an appropiate name for their ship as they had survived one of the worst air battles inflicted upon the 492nd. On 19 May 44, they got shot up by the German Luftwaffe while approching their target over Brunswick. The initial enemy hits caused damage to two of their engines, their right aileron and started a fire in their oxygen system. Three of the crewmen were wounded in the battle. But their problems had only just begun when a Me-109 collided into their ship's rudder. The impact sheared off the German fighter's wing and tore off half of the LUCKY LASS' right vertical tail. Somehow the LUCKY LASS made it back to England.
Lt Bridges was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross for bringing his crew and plane back. S/Sgt Garside was credited for shooting down an Me-109. Lt Tracey's wounds were minor and back in action for the crew's next mission. Sgt Rose's wounds were serious enough to send him back to the States for recovery. On 13 June 44, he was replaced by S/Sgt Knight from the Ogden Crew 606. Lt Safier's wounds required hospital treatment. Within a few weeks, Safier returned to the crew but perhaps prematurely. He was extremely nervous and gun-shy and the crew felt they could no longer depend on him. After flying two or three more missions he was transferred out of the Group. Safier was never replaced. From this day on, they flew as a nine-man crew.
While the LUCKY LASS was being repaired, they kind of took possession of a replacement B-24, 42-95023, which had just arrived. They named it LUCKY LASS II. It's unclear if the LUCKY LASS II came without a ball turret or if it had been removed at North Pickenham, but this plane didn't have one.
The Bridges crew stood down when the group encountered their next rough mission on 29 May 44 to Politz. However, S/Sgt Garside and Sgt Berger volunteered to fill in on two other crews. S/Sgt Garside flew with the Davis Crew 704. When they were over target, he noticed the gas gauge was lower than it should be. He looked at the instrument panal in the cockpit and saw they were running their engines on auto-rich. "Excuse me Captain, but if you don't switch to auto-lean now we will not make it back. In fact, I'm not sure if we have enough fuel to get back." They crossed the Channel on fumes and crashlanded at an airfield at Oulton. No one was injured but it was a rough landing. When Lt Bridges flew over to pick them up, Garside told him he would never fly with another crew again.
The luck of the Bridges Crew wasn't predicated on what plane they flew or what name it had. One might say those planes were lucky to have been flown by them. Flying the LUCKY LASS II, they survived the second Politz mission on 20 June 44 which cost the Group 14 crews. Sadly, their bunk mates from the Liggett Crew 701 were among the missing. On 7 July 44, the Bridges Crew hit the trifecta by getting in the middle of yet another fierce air battle. This time they were flying, WE'LL GET BY, and that they did.
T/Sgt Garside and T/Sgt Berger have the distinction of having flown every tough mission the 492nd had. With the exception of the first time the McMurray Crew 801 was shot down on 15 June 44, they witnessed every one of the 492nd's lost planes getting hit by the enemy.
When the group was disbanded, the Bridges Crew 702 was transferred to the 44th BG where they completed their tour of 31 missions.
The LUCKY LASS II went to the 392nd BG where it wasn't so lucky. It was involved in a mid-air collision during assembly on 12 August 1944. 7 KIA, 1 WIA, 1 RTD (returned to duty).
Eventually Lt Safier regained his confidence and was assigned to the Rhine Crew at the 389th BG. He was killed on 21 November 1944 when their plane collided with another plane during assembly. 9 KIA, 2 RTD.
More Info
Bridges CCT 93
Gaines Crew 715
Tracey Crew 715
Davis Crew 704
Ogden Crew 606
Links to missions
flown by the
Bridges Crew 702
are below in their
Mission Record
44th BG
389th BG
392nd BG
Original Roster for
Bridges Crew 702
Position / MOS Name Rank Serial # Notes
MOS 1024
Bridges, Wyman M 2nd Lt O-807676 Awarded DFC for 19 May 44
Promoted 1st Lt
10 Aug 44; transferred to 44th BG
MOS 1024
Tracey, John C 2nd Lt O-692977 WIA, 19 May 44
Took over Gaines Crew 715
Interned in Switzerland, 11 Jul 44, MACR 6934
MOS 1034
Safier, Joseph M 2nd Lt O-692342 WIA, 19 May 44, eye and leg
Recovered in hospital
Transferred to 389th BG
Promoted to 1st Lt
KIA, 21 Nov 44, mid-air collision
MOS 1035
Plunkett, Donald A 2nd Lt O-682719 Promoted 1st Lt
10 Aug 44; transferred to 44th BG
MOS 748
Garside, William H S/Sgt 11122213 19 May 44, credited shooting down Me-109
Promoted T/Sgt
10 Aug 44; transferred to 44th BG
MOS 757
Berger, William Sgt 12185464 Promoted S/Sgt
Promoted T/Sgt
10 Aug 44; transferred to 44th BG
MOS 612
Anderson, Carl A Sgt 39038196 Promoted S/Sgt
10 Aug 44; transferred to 44th BG
Ball Gunner
MOS 611
Rose, Horace A Sgt 32478373 WIA, 19 May 44, both legs
Returned to USA for recovery
MOS 611
Barnett, John P Sgt 12025537 Promoted S/Sgt
10 Aug 44; transferred to 44th BG
MOS 612
Hammer, Charles E Sgt 12066862 Arrived to the UK via the Queen Elizabeth
Promoted S/Sgt
10 Aug 44; transferred to 44th BG
  Others Who Flew with Bridges Crew 702
Crew Chief
MOS 750
Salaun, Clifford A Sgt 38317521 Flew to England with the crew
Promoted T/Sgt
MOS 1024
Gaines, Irvin L 1st Lt O-808816 Obtained from Gaines Crew 715
10 Aug 44; transferred to 44th BG
MOS 748
Knight, Ralph J Jr S/Sgt 1104418 13 Jun; Obtained from Ogden Crew 606
10 Aug 44; transferred to 44th BG
Bridges Crew 702
492nd BG Mission Record
857th Bomb Squadron
Primary Target Mission Notes
 Link to Mission 01 page 01
11 May 44 44-40157 Mulhouse, France Target: Marshalling yard
 Link to Mission 03 page 03
13 May 44   Tutow, Germany Target: Airfield
 Link to Mission 05 page 05
19 May 44 44-40157 Brunswick, Germany Target: Marshalling yard
Crew credited with 1 enemy kill
Pilot awarded DFC
Plane crippled, 3 WIA
 Link to Mission 09 page 09
25 May 44 44-40106 Belfort, France Target: Marshalling yard
 Link to Mission 10 page 10
27 May 44 42-95023 Saarbrucken, Germany Target: Marshalling yard
 Link to Mission 11 page 11
28 May 44 41-28978 Zeitz, Germany Target: Oil refinery
Don't know if aborted or failed to bombed, credit unconfirmed
 Link to Mission 13 page 13
30 May 44 44-40168 Rotenburg, Germany Target: Air depot
 Link to Mission 14 page 14
31 May 44 42-50313 Brussels, Belgium Target: Marshalling yard
 Link to Mission 17 page 17
6 Jun 44 42-95023 Normandy, France Target: D-Day invasion coast
 Link to Mission 10 page 10
10 Jun 44 42-95023 Boulogne, France Target: Airfield
 Link to Mission 11 page 11
12 Jun 44 42-95023 Dreux, France Target: Airfield
 Link to Mission 26 page 26
14 Jun 44 42-95023 Emmerich, Germany Target: Oil refinery
 Link to Mission 30 page 30
17 Jun 44 44-40086 Tours, France Target: Airfield
A/C borrowed from 858th BS
 Link to Mission 34 page 34
20 Jun 44 42-95023 Politz, Germany Target: Oil refinery
 Link to Mission 40b page 40b
25 Jun 44 42-95023 Roye, France Target: Peronne Airfield
 Link to Mission 41 page 41
27 Jun 44 42-95023 Creil, France Target: Marshalling yard
 Link to Mission 42 page 42
28 Jun 44 42-95023 Saarbrucken, Germany Target: Marshalling yard
 Link to Mission 44 page 44
4 Jul 44 42-95023 Beaumont-le-Roger, France Target: Airfield
Aborted, uncredited
 Link to Mission 45 page 45
6 Jul 44 44-40140 Kiel, Germany Target: Shipyard
 Link to Mission 46 page 46
7 Jul 44 44-40118 Bernburg, Germany Target: Aircraft manufacturing
 Link to Mission 52 page 52
18 Jul 44 42-95023 Troarns, France Target: Tactical
 Link to Mission 54 page 54
20 Jul 44 42-51121 Erfurt, Germany Target: Airfield
 Link to Mission 56 page 56
24 Jul 44 42-95023 St Lo area, France Target: Tactical
 Link to Mission 57 page 57
25 Jul 44 42-95023 St Lo area, France Target: Tactical
 Link to Mission 59 page 59
31 Jul 44 42-95023 Ludwigshafen, Germany Target: Chemical plant
 Link to Mission 60 page 60
1 Aug 44 44-40113 Anizy, France Target: Railroad bridge
 Link to Mission 64 page 64
5 Aug 44 42-95023 Brunswick, Germany Target: Aircraft manufacturing
 Link to Mission 65 page 65
5 Aug 44 42-95023 Hamburg, Germany Target: Oil refinery
 Link to Mission 66 page 66
7 Aug 44 44-40173 Ostend, Belgium Target: Oil dump
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Page last modified Tuesday, October 4, 2011.