Eugene D. Lucynski was born on Wilson Street in Bay Ward 6, Bay County, Michigan around January 1920, according to the 1920 census. Eugene was the youngest child and only son of Gus (Gustav) and Dominica Lucynski. He had two older sisters, Gertrude (three years older) and Virginia (two years older).
Eugene, his parents, and both sisters were all born in Michigan. Gus’s parents were from Prussia (later reported in the census as Poland). Dominica’s father was from Germany, but her mother was born in New York.
In 1930 Eugene was ten years old. By this time, the family had moved to Flint, Genesee County, Michigan, and lived on Oregon Avenue.
In 1940, Eugene, now twenty years old, worked as a waiter at a lunch counter (according to the 1940 census). The family still lived in the same house on Oregon Avenue in Flint, but Gertrude had gotten married to Charles Hogue and she and Charles lived with them. Eugene’s sister Virginia married Steve Plunkey on September 28, 1940.
In 1942 Eugene was listed in the Flint city directory as a machine operator for Fisher Body.
I cannot find an enlistment record for Eugene Lucynski, but sometime in 1942 or 1943, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces. On June 8, 1944, he was assigned combat crew duty on the same orders as my father, George Edwin Farrar.
On July 22, 1944, he was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group, 544th Bomb Squad on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144, as Tail Gunner for the John Oliver Buslee crew.
Eugene’s first mission with the 384th was the August 4, 1944 mission 171 to a rocket R&D facility – CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) – in Peenemunde, Germany. He flew twelve total missions with the Buslee crew, the last being September 11, 1944.
For reasons unknown, he flew his next two missions with the Carnes crew, replacing Gerald Lee Andersen as tail gunner. Mission 195 on September 17, was a tactical mission to s’Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. Mission 196 on September 19, was to the railroad marshalling yards in Hamm, Germany.
On the September 19 mission, the Carnes crew was aboard the Tremblin’ Gremlin. The Gremlin was struck by flak, and after bombs away, left formation under control. The crew, including Eugene Lucynski, who had replaced Gerald Lee Andersen as tail gunner, bailed out over Binche, Belgium. Landing in allied territory, the crew eventually returned to duty, with the exception of seriously injured ball turret gunner, James B. King, Jr. This was Eugene Lucynski’s fourteenth and last mission with the 384th.
With the Carnes crew not returning to duty until October, Gerald Lee Andersen flew as the tail gunner aboard the Lead Banana on September 28, 1944. It was Andersen’s fate, rather than Lucynski’s, to be aboard Lead Banana when it collided with Lazy Daisy coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. Whatever the reason behind the switch in tail gunners for the two crews, it saved Lucynski from being on the Lead Banana on September 28, and put Andersen on that ill-fated flight, where he lost his life.
Keith Ellefson, combat data specialist for www.384thbombgroup.com, shared a theory with me. Keith believes that Lucynski must have been wounded on the September 19 mission and subsequently grounded by the Flight Surgeon. He must have either been in the hospital, on convalescence or doing ground duty at Grafton Underwood from the date of his last mission until December 7, 1944 when he was awarded the Purple Heart.
Lucynski must have served for another year before the end of his service with the Army Air Forces. A passenger list found on Ancestry.com shows he arrived back in the US on December 16, 1945 on the Queen Mary, arriving at the port of New York, New York.
I cannot find any record of Eugene D. Lucynski after his arrival back in the United States. I would love to hear from any relatives who can offer any more information about him.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015