The final flight of  the J. L. Patrick crew

 B-17 serial number 42-32004

"Pride O the Yanks"

Pride o the Yanks (aka: Pride of the Yanks)
with Andrecheck crew

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Crewmen on the Final Flight of "Pride O the Yanks".
Pilot J. L. Patrick  
Copilot A. A. McDonell KIA in ditching


J. F. Spear KIA in ditching 
Radio Operator E. K. Bingham  
Engineer R. Rarick  
Bombardier A. Vuksta  
Ball Turret  gunner
Frank L. Heiden  

Waist Gunner

J. E. Ford  
Waist Gunner D. J. Harter  
Tail Gunner R. J. Rupe KIA in ditching

The crew was assembled at Rapid City, South Dakota AAF (later named Ellsworth AFB)

Ellsworth AFB in 2011 (Rapid City AAB)


388th base / Knettishall Website (opens in new window) 

RAF Knettishall, Wikipedia 


Crew Facts

Name  J. L. Patrick Crew
Sqdr 560
Combat Duty length: 14 days 
First mission 06 June 44  D Day
Last mission 20 June 44 
Fate Shot Down - ditched in the North Sea
MACR  5921
Over Magdeberg, during the bomb run, they received severe flak damage.

They turned to return to England, feathered failed left engines one and two, then lost oil pressure and power on right wing number 3. With only 1 engine producing power, it was impossible to hold altitude and they had to ditch in the North Sea.
The last the other planes saw them, they were 7-8 miles out, but Frank says that they made it 20 miles from the coast before ditching. He says that Rupe, the tail gunner never had a chance and was probably knocked unconscious when the tail slapped back down and other reports from Ford relate that Rupe. was strapped in, in the proper ditching location.

Instructions: How to Ditch a B-17 at sea

Heiden said that the co-pilot, McDonell was hurt and probably couldn't get unstrapped and out of the cockpit. A B-17 was estimated to float for as long as 2 minutes before sinking, but, usually, it was reported that they would sink in 30 to 45 seconds. Not a lot of time for crew members, injured, disoriented and in shock, to climb out and successfully evacuate.

There were 2 large 5 man life rafts on a B-17, but, according to Heiden, one raft was flak damaged, So they had 1 good 5 man raft for 6 people and put one wounded man in a "one man" raft and towed him with a rope. The plane ditched in the North Sea at 11:30 on the North side of the island of Terschelling. 10 hours later, at 21:30 (9:30pm) 7 crewmembers came ashore with a rubber lifeboat. It was Joseph Leon Patrick, Andrew Vuksta, Earwell Kay Bingham, Dale Arthur “Ricki” Rarick, Joseph Edwin Ford, Donald James Harter and Frank L Heiden.

They said that Frank paddled 20 miles back to the coast with the one paddle. "I sure wasn't going to let loose of that paddle!", said Heiden.
I think that Heiden said something about holding the rope for the guy they were towing, but I'm not sure that I can sort that out now.

In the ditching, they lost 3 crew members: copilot: Alexander Angus McDonell, navigator: James Fenley Spear Jr and tail gunner: Robert Joe Rupe ("roop").

They made it to the Dutch coast.

According to Ford, they sent one guy to find help and he came back with a couple German soldiers and a litter.

Heiden said that when they reached the beach, there were eventually Germans up the beach dunes and they were making hand motions and saying 'kommen sie, kommen sie hier!"

The cold and tired crew looked around and saw the minefield warning signs and said "Nein! nien! kommen Sie hier".
The Germans then pointed their rifles down at the crew and the crew tiptoed carefully with the wounded, up through the minefield and maybe there weren't even any mines, but none went off. 

They were interrogated and Heiden and the other two injured went to a german hospital. Heiden had a large cut on his head and a broken ankle that was never repaired. During interrogation, the Germans gave Frank a hard time as he was German, then after about 10 days, they gave up - that Heiden family stubbornness won out.
Eventually Frank Heiden went to Stalag Luft 4 and then to Stalag Luft VI and was part of the Black March.

I was talking to a friend who was an AIr Force brat and grew up in Europe. He said that the building where they were interrogated was still standing and in essentially WW2 condition.

Maybe my uncle Frank was pretty tough, but he said that the worst thing about being a POW was the boredom and lack of food.

Frank's wife said that she would look and see if he's got any ww2 pictures.

Frank was good friends with Ricki Rarick after the war.

Thanks to researcher  Rene Bosma from NL. <>  

Would like information and photos of crew and aircraft listed - Thanks -

These are the 4 aircraft the Patrick crew flew in their 9 combat missions, in 14 days, from June 6, 1944 to June 20, 1944.
We do not have a picture of:
"their airplane" was Red X Darling / Miss Fortune

aircraft total 90 combat missions

Red X Darling survived the war

Patrick crew normally flew 42-37849 - they flew it 5 missions

Frank Heiden said that it was called "Red X" because she always had a long list of after and before mission "squawks" and "Darling" because she always got them back.

Click to enlarge

"Millie K"  and Paul Kelly, Millie's husband
aircraft total 97 combat missions
Crashed on combat mission Sept  28, 1944 - MACR 9376
Patrick crew flew 42-37878 on 1 mission
Skipper and the Kids / Rough Deal
 aircraft total 78 combat missions
Patrick crew flew 42-97286  for 1 mission

Delivered: Cheyenne 15/2/44; Kearney 4/3/44; Grenier 15/3/44;
Assigned: 398BG Nuthampstead 12/3/44;
Transferred: 560BS/388BG Knettishall 13/3/44;
detailed from Prestwick with special cargo (probably whiskey!) but lost way in poor weather, and crash-landed Isle of Arran, UK 11/12/44

: John Littlejohn; all killed.
Wreck not found until weeks later by a local shepherd.
Salvaged. 15/3/45
B-17 Master Log - Dave Osbourne.
*B-17G 42-97286, Skipper and the Kids, of the 560th Bombardment Squadron, 388th Bombardment Group flew into the eastern face of Beinn Nuis on the Isle of Arran on December 10, 1944 while on a  flight from Knettishall to Prestwick.

Pride O the Yanks
aircraft total 61 combat missions
Patrick crew flew 42-32004  for 2 missions
Ditched in the North Sea June 20, 1944 with the J. L. Patrick crew on board. 7 survived the ditching and were captured.
Heiden had little love for the Pride O the Yanks.


Joseph Leon Patrick



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Joseph Leon Patrick crew

Alexander Angus McDonell

Second Lieutenant

additional information:

War Memorial.- Columbia.University  Angus A McDonell

James Fenley Spear Jr.


click pic for full size registration card
(thanks Rene Bosma)

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(thanks for finding this pic -  Rene Bosma)

more info? JL_Patrick_crew information and photos 
Earwell Kay Bingham
also "Kay Bingham"

Radio Operator
(Earwell) Kay Bingham
from 1947 Gila Junior College at Thatcher, Arizona, USA
Engineer Ricki Dale Rarick  
Andrew (nmi) Vuksta


AAF serial number  15323475
State   Ohio
County   Mahoning
Place of enlistment  Ft Hayes, Columbus, OH
enlistment date  October 23, 1942
civilian occupation   welder
birth   Nov 6, 1922
death   July 1, 1972
Saint Joseph Catholic Cemetery
Stark County
Ohio, USA