Buslee Crew on September 28, 1944 – 384th BG Mission 201
The 384th Bomb Group Mission 201 was also known as Eighth Air Force Mission 652.
The Buslee crew flew this mission aboard aircraft 43-37822, named “The Lead Banana.”
The primary target was the Steelworks Industry in Magdeburg, Germany.
Coming off the target, aircraft 42-31222, “Lazy Daisy,” collided with “The Lead Banana.”
Lead Banana Crew List:
- Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
- Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
- Navigator – William Alvin Henson II
- Bombardier – Robert Sumner Stearns
- Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
- Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
- Ball Turret Gunner – George Francis McMann, Jr.
- Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
- Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar
Buslee, Albrecht, Peluso, Bryant, and Farrar were the only original Buslee crew members on the aircraft.
William Alvin Henson II replaced Chester Rybarczyk three times on the Buslee crew. It was Rybarczyk’s lucky day to be flying with the William J. Blankenmeyer crew on aircraft 42-39888, “Hotnuts” on this mission. Comments were entered on the “Hotnuts” Sortie Report that the ship “Left formation after target for unknown reasons, but returned to base.” Rybarczyk did witness the crash, as he stated in a letter to Farrar’s mother dated October 13, 1944. The “unknown reason” was most likely a search for parachutes and survivors after the collision.
Original Bombardier Marvin Fryden was killed on the crew’s second mission on August 5, 1944. James B. Davis replaced Fryden on the Buslee crew, but for the second time, Robert Sumner Stearns replaced Davis on this mission. Davis flew as Bombardier on the Raymond J. Gabel crew on aircraft 43-38062, “Pleasure Bent.”
Original Engineer/Top Turret Gunner Clarence B. Seeley was wounded on the August 5, 1944 mission, and did not fly again until October 2, 1944. Lenard Leroy Bryant, an original member of the Buslee crew, moved to the Engineer/Top Turret Gunner position from his original waist gunner position.
Original Ball Turret Gunner Erwin V. Foster’s last flight with the Buslee crew was on September 9, 1944. Foster did not fly again until September 30, 1944. George Francis McMann served with the Buslee crew as Ball Turret Gunner on the September 28 flight, his one and only flight with this crew.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013