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McMurray Crew 801
 McMurray Crew 801
Back row, left to right...
Leonard Ray, engineer
David McMurray, pilot
Millard Wells Jr, co-pilot
Raymond Pascual, bombardier
Front row, left to right...
Hyman L Stiglitz, radio operator
Walter O Schlosser, gunner
Francis E Larrivee, gunner
Robert L Cotey, gunner
Robert J Flood, gunner
McMurray Crew 801 Summary
Most of the men in the McMurray Crew had served with the 12th AS (Anti-Submarine Squadron) in Langley, Virginia, which became the cadre source for the brand new 492nd Bomb Group. Lt McMurray flew sub patrols as a co-pilot and was promoted to pilot at Alamogordo, New Mexico. We have been able to confirm Lt Hedges, Lt Pascual, T/Sgt Ray and S/Sgt Stiglitz had flown with the 12th AS, too. T/Sgt Ray had the most seniority with the outfit as he was an original Maryland guardsman in Baltimore. He flew anti-sub patrols out of Atlantic City, New Jersey, before they were relocated to Langley. One could say that the McMurray Crew 801 was one of the original original crews of the 492nd.
The McMurray Crew was formed at Alamogordo, assigned to the 858th BS and designated as Crew 801. We are still trying to confirm how the other crew members came into the 492nd. We suspect they had served at Langley, too, but we need confirmation.
McMurray signed out for B-24J, 44-40145. To our knowledge they didn't give their plane a nickname. They flew their assigned ship to England using the southern route. Their ground crew chief S/Sgt Castelletti flew with them, thus bumping Pfc Corbin onto the Queen Elizabeth.
Shortly after arriving in England, Lt Hedges requested to be reassigned to the Lewis Crew 813. He and Capt Lewis had grown up together in Cheyenne, Wyoming, living only a few streets away from each other. They wanted to fly combat together. With permission from their squadron commander and all parties involved, he and Lt Farrell from the Lewis Crew switched places. This was done before any combat missions were flown.
By our count the McMurray Crew 801 flew 15 missions. We aren't sure who was on each of these missions, but we do know that some changes were made to their crew roster. It's always possible that their bombardier may had missed some of the Pathfinder-led missions.
The McMurray Crew 801 was known as the tough luck or hard luck crew. It seemed as if they always came back being the most battered plane on every mission. This wasn't exactly true but they were probably battered more often than the others and certainly had more than their fair share of death nipping at their heels. But this crew also had the reputation of being able to survive anything much like the Timex watch slogan, "takes a licking and keeps on ticking."
Their mission to Politz on 29 May 1944 was a rough one. S/Sgt Tracey was killed inside his ball turret and S/Sgt Corbin was severely wounded. Corbin was sent to the US for recovery. Lt Col Mahoney's book, Reluctant Witness, has an excellent chapter about this crew. Col Mahoney knew Tracey well and his first hand account of pulling his dead body out of the ball turret is both chilling and sobering. He learned the hard way that Tracey had literally been cut in two.
Tracey and Corbin were replaced by Sgts Flood and Cotey from the Shalvoy Crew 618. They had something in common with their new crew as they, too, had survived a near-death experience when their plane crashed on 11 May 1944. They began flying with the McMurray Crew on 31 May 1944.
The Crew participated on D-Day and their next missions were milk runs over France. These missions were designed either in direct support of the ground forces or they bombed airfields in Central France in order to keep the Luftwaffe out of the area.
Their mission on 15 June 1944 was to bomb a railroad bridge to cripple German logistics. This was supposed to be another milk run but the legendary Luftwaffe Ace Col "Pips" Priller had ideas of his own.
Priller was trying his best to rally the Luftwaffe back into the war. On D-Day he and his wingman flew the only two planes that attacked the Normandy beach landing. Since D-Day the French skies were completely ruled by the Allies and not one heavy bomber had been lost over France. Priller was the gruppe commander of the infamous JG/26 aka the Abbyeville Kids. By this time Priller had personally shot down 99 planes and was looking for his hundredth kill. As luck would have it, he put his gunsight on the McMurray Crew.
Again, Mahoney's book, as well as Dick Bastien's book 32 Co Pilots, gives dramatic accounts of the Crew getting shot down over France. The Crew barely made it to the battle front in Normandy and bailed out. Most of them landed either behind German lines or in no man's land, yet one by one they were all able to evade capture and return to England. Each had an exciting story to tell, as they could hear German voices nearby and gunfire all around them.
Leonard Ray was able to get back with the help of local French citizens. Pascual got scratched up landing in a French lady's rose bushes and was awarded the Purple Heart. The presentation of his medal helped in improving the morale bringing some overdue levity to the battered 492nd.
Lt Farrell had a severely sprained ankle and with help from the locals found the American lines. He was treated at a first aid station, sent to a field hospital and was later sent to a hospital in England. Since he had landed deeper inside enemy territory than the others, many had assumed he was taken POW. He returned to North Pickenham just before the Group was disbanded and saw very few familiar faces. He was reassigned to the Abernethy Crew which ended up going to the Carpetbaggers.
By the time the Crew got back to base, the 858th's staff and ground personnel had been cut from the Group and had been sent to Cheddington to conduct night leaflet droppings. However, the 858th's combat crews and planes were reassigned to the other three squadrons. In the process, the McMurray Crew was given to the 856th BS and was redesignated as Crew 602. All four of the 492nd's squadrons had suffered high casualties but the 856th suffered the most. With that said, the McMurray Crew became the hard luck crew of the hard luck squadron of the hard luck group. One can say these men were doomed.
The Crew got a seven day pass to London which was given to those who survived such ordeals. Obviously, they got word on Farrell and knew he would be getting back soon. He was not replaced and from then on they flew as a nine-man crew. This was unusual but was done more often than one might think. Bomber pilots have the same training as fighter pilots which includes navigation. Then bomber pilots are sent to twin engine and four engine training while fighter pilots are assigned to a group. Like fighter pilots find their own way so can bomber pilots. The reason bombers have navigators is because of the importance of finding their targets.
The Crew's last mission bombed an aircraft manufacturing plant at Bernburg, Germany. On their way home, the Luftwaffe caught the Group again without any fighter protection and put the hurt to them. The 492nd lost a dozen more of their planes. The McMurray Crew was among the lost, killing everyone on board. 9 KIA, MACR 7231.
Their tough luck history is extremely well-painted in a "Stars and Stripes" article (see the Stories link on the right). It gives some examples of the scraps of information they had, plus a summary of their final mission. The initial MIA reports thought the Crew might had gone down in the Baltic Sea. Later reports suspected they had gone down in the North Sea. Almost sixty years later the wreckage was discovered near the initial battle zone.
James Mahoney, 859th Bomb Squadron Commander, knew this crew very well even though they weren't in his squadron. His friendship with them began at Langley Field when he flew anti-submarine patrols with them. His final reflection, "For us it was the least dramatic of the several episodes the McMurray Crew provided. For them it was the worst and last."
The excavated remains of the McMurray Crew were sent to Hawaii for DNA identification. Everyone in the crew was positively identified except for S/Sgt Cotey. However his ring and dogtags were found in the wreckage and forensics was able to conclude his remains are among the parts from which DNA could not be extracted.
Leonard Ray was buried in Maryland on 5 Oct 2007. Robert Flood was buried in Pennsylvania on the following day. Hyman Stiglitz was buried on 28 Dec 2007 in Tucson, Arizona. The other five identified through DNA were buried together at Arlington on 12 June 2008 along with a mass burial for the entire crew which contains all of the remains that could not be identified. On its headstone are the names of all nine men.
More Info
plus 2 more
Shalvoy Crew 618
Lewis Crew 813
Missing Allied Air
Crew Research Team
(with photos)
with photos
28 Dec 2007
(with 13 photos)
12 Jun 2008
Arlington Nat'l
(30 photos)
(Flash Player 9 req'd)
Links to missions
flown by the
McMurray Crew 801
are below in their
Mission Record
Missing Allied
Air Crew
Research Team
official website
BG website
Maryland ANG
article about
TSgt Ray and
LTC Turnbull
Original Roster for
McMurray Crew 801
Position / MOS Name Rank Serial # Notes
MOS 1024
McMurray, David P 2nd Lt O-796852 Promoted 1st Lt
KIA, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7231
Wall of the Missing, Henri-Chapelle, Belgium
Found, to be buried at Arlington
MOS 1024
Wells, Milliard C Jr 2nd Lt O-808625 KIA, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7231
Wall of the Missing, Henri-Chapelle, Belgium
Found, to be buried at Arlington
MOS 1034
Farrell, John P 2nd Lt O-704120 Reassigned from Lewis Crew 813
WIA, 15 Jun 44
Transferred to the 801st/492nd BG
Promoted 1st Lt
Name often misspelled Farrall
MOS 1035
Pascual, Raymond 2nd Lt O-668755 Promoted 1st Lt
KIA, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7231
Wall of the Missing, Henri-Chapelle, Belgium
Found, to be buried at Arlington
MOS 748
Ray, Leonard J T/Sgt 20349559 KIA, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7231
Wall of the Missing, Henri-Chapelle, Belgium
Found, buried in Maryland
MOS 757
Stiglitz, Hyman L S/Sgt 11045879 Promoted T/Sgt
KIA, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7231
Wall of the Missing, Henri-Chapelle, Belgium
Found, buried in Tucson 28 Dec 07
MOS 612
Larrivee, Francis E S/Sgt 11038832 KIA, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7231
Wall of the Missing, Henri-Chapelle, Belgium
Found, to be buried at Arlington
Ball Turret
MOS 612
Tracey, Patrick A S/Sgt 32316370 KIA, 29 May 44
Buried in Cambridge, H-3-17
Reburied, Long Island National Cemetery
MOS 611
Schlosser, Walter O Sgt 16033944 Promoted S/Sgt
KIA, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7231
Wall of the Missing, Henri-Chapelle, Belgium
Found, to be buried at Arlington
MOS 611
Corbin, Robert L Pfc 37536769 Arrived to the UK via the Queen Elizabeth
Promoted Sgt
Promoted S/Sgt
WIA, 29 May 44
  Others Who Flew with McMurray Crew 801
Crew Chief
MOS 750
Castelletti, Ezio A S/Sgt 39009519 Flew to England with the crew
Promoted T/Sgt

Promoted M/Sgt
19 Jun; transferred to 856th
MOS 748
Cotey, Robert L S/Sgt 17121422 Reassigned from Shalvoy Crew 618
KIA, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7231
Wall of the Missing, Henri-Chapelle, Belgium
Found, to be buried at Arlington
MOS 748
Flood, Robert J S/Sgt 33567786 Reassigned from Shalvoy Crew 618
KIA, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7231
Wall of the Missing, Henri-Chapelle, Belgium
Found, buried in Pennsylvania
MOS 1034
Hedges, Robert E 2nd Lt O-685606 Original Crew member
Reassigned to Lewis Crew 813
KIA, 19 May 44, MACR 5245
Buried in the USA
McMurray Crew 801
492nd BG Mission Record
858th Bomb Squadron
Primary Target Mission Notes
 Link to Mission 04 page 04
15 May 44 44-40145 Siracourt, France Target: Crossbow
(V-1 rockets)
 Link to Mission 07 page 07
23 May 44   Avord, France Target: Airfield
 Link to Mission 08 page 08
24 May 44 44-40145 Melun, France Target: Airfield
 Link to Mission 10 page 10
27 May 44 44-40145 Saarbrucken, Germany Target: Marshalling yard
 Link to Mission 12 page 12
29 May 44 44-40145 Politz, Germany Target: Oil refinery
Sgt Tracey KIA,
Sgt Corbin WIA
 Link to Mission 14 page 14
31 May 44 42-95196 Brussels, Belgium Target: Marshalling yard
 Link to Mission 18 page 18
6 Jun 44 41-29470 Caen, France Target: D-Day invasion coast
 Link to Mission 20 page 20
8 Jun 44 44-40135 Angers, France Target: Railroad junction
 Link to Mission 22 page 22
10 Jun 44 44-40086 Orleans/Bricy, France Target: Airfield
 Link to Mission 25 page 25
12 Jun 44 44-40159 Dreux, France Target: Airfield
 Link to Mission 27 page 27
14 Jun 44 44-40167 Chateaudun, France Target: Airfield
 Link to Mission 28 page 28
15 Jun 44 42-95132 La Frilliere, France Target: Railroad bridge
Lost: Shot down over Normandy beachhead
1 WIA, 9 RTD
Mission Record as McMurray Crew 602, 856th BS
 Link to Mission 44 page 44
4 Jul 44 44-40145 Beaumont-le-Roger,
Target: Airfield
 Link to Mission 45 page 45
6 Jul 44 44-40145 Kiel, Germany Target: Shipyard
 Link to Mission 46 page 46
7 Jul 44 44-40145 Bernburg, Germany Target: Aircraft manufacturing
Lost: 9 KIA, MACR 7231
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Page last modified Saturday, October 5, 2013.