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George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., Update – Part 2

George Marshall Hawkins Jr., photo shared by Everett Diemer and Danielle Yost Cross on Ancestry

New information from a new search on, and new information from military records have provided me with some new and updated information regarding George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., original navigator of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. 

To view my original post and other information about George Hawkins, please see the links at the end of this post.

Combat Duty with the 384th Bomb Group

George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.’s 384th Bomb Group Individual Sortie record indicates that his duty was Navigator, one month’s pay was $247.50, and his home address was Mr. George M. Hawkins, 52 Burchard St., Fords, N.J.

George was credited with nineteen missions with the 384th Bomb Group, for which he earned an Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters. His first mission was on 7 August 1944 and his last was on 28 September 1944.

Morning Reports of the 384th Bombardment Group and other military documents indicate the following for George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.

  • On 26 JULY 1944, 2nd Lt. George Marshall Hawkins, Jr. was assigned to the 545th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #148 dated 26 July 1944 as a Navigator with the MOS (military occupational specialty) of 1034, of the James Joseph Brodie crew.
  • On 28 SEPTEMBER 1944, on Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany (Target was Industry, Steelworks), George Marshall Hawkins went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action). He was subsequently declared POW (Prisoner of War).

Mid-air Collision

George Marshall Hawkins, Jr. was aboard B-17 42-31222 Lazy Daisy with the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944 when their B-17 collided over Magdeburg, Germany with the Buslee crew’s B-17 43-37822. George was one of only three men aboard Lazy Daisy to survive and became a prisoner of war.

Hawkins wrote what he knew of the accident after he returned home from the war in 1945. His account, as follows, is included in the Missing Air Crew Report, MACR9366:

Following “Bombs away” at our target over Magdeburg, Germany, our B17-G and another ship in our formation collided. At the time of the accident our plane was in good condition with nothing more than light flak damage. As far as I know, all men on board were uninjured.

At the time of the collision, the front section of our nose was carried away, and with it, the nose gunner, S/Sgt Byron L. Atkins. The plane seemed to be flying straight and level for a very few seconds and then fell off into a spin. I managed to break out of the right side of the nose just behind the right nose gun.

Floating downward I saw an opened but empty chute. Leading me to believe that Atkins’ chute was pulled open at the time of the accident or by him later. However, because of the position of the chute I think the chute must have been opened following a free fall of a few thousand feet and then, because of damage or faulty hook-up, failed to save its occupant.

Following my own free fall, our ship was circling above me. It was then in a flat spin, burning. It passed me and disappeared into the clouds below. When I next saw the ship it was on the ground. While floating downward, I saw one other chute below me.

I landed a mile or so from the town of Erxleben, Germany…west of Magdeburg. The plane landed within two or three miles of me. Many civilians and the military there saw the incident.

The following evening I met two members of the crew…the waist gunner, Sgt. Liniger, and the tail gunner, Sgt. Miller. Sgt. Liniger said he was attempting to escape through the waist door when an explosion threw him from the ship. At that time Sgt. Miller said the tail assembly left the ship and he later chuted from the tail section.

To the best of my knowledge, All other five members of the crew were at their positions on the plane and failed to leave the ship. All were uninjured up till the time of the collision.

A 384th Bomb Group bombardier, Frank Furiga, was flying as an observer in the tail gunner position of B-17 43‑38542, the Low Group lead on the mission. He witnessed the mid-air collision and wrote about it, saying,

I was horrified to see the plane of our very good friends, John Buslee and David Albrecht collide with the Brodie-Vevle plane and they immediately went into death spirals and I could see no parachutes.

Frank later noted that Brodie’s B-17 collided with Buslee’s in one telling, saying,

As we dropped our bombs and made a tight right turn off the target, I saw a Fortress suddenly slacking its speed and then drop like a rock and smash into the plane of Lieutenant Buslee. The entwined fortresses went into a dance of death.

But in another telling, in 1979, Frank Furiga wrote a letter to Quentin Bland in which he described the mid-air collision this way,

George was a Navigator in the Jim Brodie-Vevle plane and a plane piloted by John Buslee and David Albrecht dropped down and into them colliding in midair and both planes went down. I was riding that day as Tail Observer and I can close my eyes and still visualize it since it was such an impact on my mind. For the longest time, we thought no one had gotten out until I met Hawkins at Meiningen, Germany.

George Hawkins and Frank Furiga were held prisoner of war together at the same POW hospital and maintained a friendship after the war. Some time after Christmas 1983, George Hawkins wrote the following in a letter to Frank Furiga, “an account of my 1944-45 visit to Germany.”

September 28, 1944

Following ‘Bombs away’ and while making a shallow formation turn to starboard, our lead ship suddenly racked up into a tight right turn … so abrupt that my pilot(s) were forced to increase the bank of the turn and pull up over the lead ship to avoid a collision. Ship #3 (flying the lead ship’s left wing) increased its bank and, riding high in turn, probably went to ‘full throttle’ in an attempt to catch up to the lead ship. Unfortunately, we were also high, in a tight turn, and playing catch up.

Standing at my position, I watched as #3 came right down our flight path and we had impact … their pilot compartment coming right up into our ship’s belly. I’m sure they had the lead ship in sight but never saw us at all. We must have been just above the co-pilot’s view through his starboard window. As soon as I spotted them coming in I hit the mike button and yelled to Brodie and Vevle to pull up, but as I talked the nose cabin deck buckled up under me, and I was pinned to the starboard side of the ship just forward of the inboard engine. On impact, our togglier and the Plexiglas nose disappeared.

I fought to free myself but to no avail … the wreckage and the air pouring into the opening in the nose made any movement impossible. Shortly thereafter the ship fell off into a spin and we started down. I can only assume that my body weight increased due to the centrifugal force build up … and this coupled with the structural damage suffered by the nose section led to a rupture of the air frame … and I was sucked out of the ship and was able to make use of my chute. I landed at Erxleben, a small town northwest of Magdeburg.

One added note: I flew all my missions using a chest chute. I wore the harness and hung the chute pack on the fire wall near my station. A day or two prior to the Magdeburg flight I had myself fitted for a back pack … one that fitted so tightly and was very uncomfortable to wear during a long flight. Well, I had it on that day. I have never been able to remember why I made the change, but I will always be thankful that I did.

It does not sound as if George Hawkins was aware that their B-17 almost collided with the Gross-Storey B-17 43‑38548 before making contact with the Buslee-Albrecht Fortress. Wallace Storey said,

We found ourselves on a crossing course with another Group and just after “bombs away” the lead ship made a sharp descending right turn. Our high element, being on the inside of this steep turn, had to move quickly by reducing power while climbing slightly. Glancing to my right, I saw that “Lazy Daisy” [the Brodie-Vevle B-17] was sliding toward me. I pulled back on the control column to climb out of her path while keeping my eye on the #2 ship of the lead element, Lt. Buslee in #337 [43-37822], on whose wing our element was flying. I yelled to Gross to watch for him to come out on the other side and, sure enough, he slid under us and right into Buslee in the lead element.

I watched the two planes as they collided. It cut #337 [43-37822] in half and the wings on #222 [42-31222] folded up and both planes fell in a fireball.

Read Wallace Storey’s full account of the mid-air collision in post September 28, 1944 – Wallace Storey.

Another airman, Ronald H. Froebel, flying as an observer in the tail gunner position of B-17 44‑8007 Screaming Eagle, the Wing Lead on the mission, wrote,

Two ships in the high group, Brodie & Buslee, which were involved in the collision appeared to have been caught in prop wash on a turn to the left. It appeared that Brodie was thrown down and into Buslee one plane, immediately disintegrated and the [other] broke into at the ball turret and finally caught fire and broke up. I observed one chute.

Many more details of the incident, including eye-witness accounts, have been covered in these previous posts,

Regardless of the details of the mid-air collision, sadly two B-17s of the 384th Bomb Group were “knocked down,” as my dad would say. Four airmen, including George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., became prisoners of war and fourteen lost their lives.

To be continued…


Thank you to Paul Furiga for sharing his father’s stories and photos.

Previous post, George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., Update – Part 1

Previous post, George Marshall Hawkins, Jr.

George Hawkins’ Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

George Hawkins’ Enlistment Record in the online National Archives

MOS means Military Occupational Specialty

Previous post, Assigned Military Occupational Specialties of the Buslee and Brodie Crews

Previous post, Timeline for Brodie Crewmembers and Substitutes, 545th Bomb Squadron

Previous post, George M. Hawkins, Jr. – September 28, 1944

Previous post, Frank Furiga, Mid-Air Collision Witness

Previous post, September 28, 1944 – Wallace Storey

Previous post, George Hawkins’ Account of the Buslee-Brodie Mid-air Collision

Previous post, MISSION 201

Previous post, What Happened in the Skies Over Magdeburg? Part 1

Previous post, What Happened in the Skies Over Magdeburg? Part 2

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2023


  1. To be trapped in a Spiralling aircraft heading for certain death must be a sobering position to be in.


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