Captain Herschel Lee Smith: 859th Bomb Squadron, 492nd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force


(Back L-R) Strehorn, Robinson, Caplinger, Smith, Rogers (Front L-R) Cox, Brown, Warren, Darbyshire and Jackson.

CAPT. Smith, Herschel Lee (O-660298). Born 25 Sep 1919. Son of Hiram Edward and Orpha (Boomershine) Smith. Married Doris Magdalene Ferst. Awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, Silver Star, Prisoner of War, WWII Victory, and European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medals. Died 28 Jul 2010.

1st LT. Caplinger, William “Bill” Jr (O-668703) Born 13 Sep 1917 in Glendale, Arizona, the fourth of eleven children. Son of Mathia L. (Garber) and William Caplinger. He worked for the Chrysler Motor Corp. in Maywood, CA. before the war. Caplinger was a rising star as a semi-pro baseball pitcher. Although offered a position in the Navy (playing ball), Caplinger gave up the sport he loved to serve his country on the frontlines of the air war over Europe. Caplinger enlisted in the AAC 6 Apr 1942 at Sacramento. He was incarcerated at Stalag Luft 1, Barth, Germany after the 12 Jul 1944 forced landing of the Smith plane. He married Marie Louise Schultz 8 Sep 1947. Caplinger returned to baseball in 1949 and played for Washington’s  Wenatchee Chiefs and the Sacramento Solons that same year. He played his last year in 1952 with California’s El Centro Imperials. Died 20 Dec 2018 in Long Beach, CA. Position on aircraft, Bombardier.

Caplinger Gallery

2nd LT. Strehorn, Winston Jerrim “Bill”(O-811154) Born 13 Feb 1922. Son of Ellen Mary (Jerrin) and Winston Macklin Strehorn. Enlisted in the AAC 30 Aug 1943. Discharged 8 Jan 1946. Died 13 Feb 2006.

2nd LT. Robinson, Buel Calvin (O-711478). Born 30 Jul 1924 in Augusta, KS. Son of Howard Hardy and Grace Reeder (Chapin) Robinson. Married Lorraine E. Johnson. He shared a barracks at Stalag Luft 1 with Smith and Sturla; North 2 compound, Barrack 2,  Room 10. Died 7 May 2009 in Aurora, KS.

2nd LT. Sturla, Harry Lawson Jr (O-692351). Born 6 Dec 1916. Son of Harry L. and Sadie Catton (Levi) Strula. Graduated from Oak Park High School. Graduate of Yale University, Class of 1938. He was close to, if not, fluent in Latin. Married Nancy Prescott Seymour in 1938. He enlisted 22 Oct 1942 at New York City. Died 21 Apr 1976. Buried in the Mount Emblem Cemetery, Elmhurst, IL.

S/SGT. Rogers, Edwin Farmer (16074978). Son of Josie E (Jones) and Ben David Rogers. Died 12 Jul 1944.

Tech/SGT. Brown, John D (20349431). Enlisted in the AAC 3 Feb 1941 at Baltimore, MD. Position on aircraft, Radio Operator.

Tech/SGT. Jackson, Joseph  Lawrence  Jr (20349483). Born 23 Sep 1918 in Baltimore, MD. Son of Joseph L and Elva May (Alexander) Jackson. Married Mary Catherine Webster about 1937. Jackson was a member of the Maryland national Guard before entry into the regular army. Enlisted in the Army 15 Oct 1940. Jackson returned to the USA aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth, arriving at New York City on 29 Jun 1945. Discharged 21 Sep 1945. Died 14 Nov 1992. Buried in the Moreland Memorial Park, Parkville, MD.

Joseph L Jackson Gallery

S/SGT. Darbyshire, Alfred Roy (37704427). Born 18 Dec 1924 in Lamar, CO. Son of Clyde Rafell and Esther Katherine (Moss) Darbyshire. Worked at Safeway in Lamar before the war (Saturdays). Enlisted in the Army 1 Sep 1943. Imprisoned at Stalag Luft IV at Gross Tychow, Pomerania [Poland]. Received his Honorable discharge 27 Oct 1945 at Santa Ana, CA. Married (1) Marietta N. Trout and (2) Antha Maynard. Died 30 May 2003. Awards include the Prisoner of War, Good Conduct, European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign, WWII Victory and Air Medals.

S/SGT. Warren, Leonard Pitt Jr (11027668). Born 10 Jul 1921 in Kennebunk, ME. Son of Leonard P and Luella May (Bachelder)Warren. Entered the Army Air Corps 21 Jan 1942 at Portland, ME. Discharged 22 Oct 1945. Married Aileen C Page 22 Jul 1943 in Kennebunk. Died 3 Jan 1986 in Burlington,MA. Buried in the Hope Cemetery, Kennebunk.

Combat Missions of the Smith Crew

Mulhouse, France: (First operational mission of the 492nd BG.) 11 May 1944. Smith flew B-24J “September Pops” 44-40211 [renamed “Our Team” after the Smith crew crashed in another plane on 12 July].

Zeitz, Germany: 12 May 1944. Smith flew B-24 “Bold Venture” 44-110091.

Brunswick, Germany: 19 May 1944. Smith flew 44-40211.

Belfort, France: 25 May 1944. Smith flew 44-40153 [lost 7 Jul 1944]

Photo (L): Bombs drop on Belfort 25 May 44.

Saarbrucken, Germany: 27 May 1944. Smith flew 44-40211.

Photo (L): Bomb damage to Saarbrucken, Marshalling Yard.

Zeitz, Germany: 28 May 1944. Smith flew 44-40211.

Photo (L): 28 May bombing of Zeitz.

Rotenburg, Germany: 30 May 1944. Smith flew 44-40211.

Photo (L): Rotenburg Airdrome burns 30 May 44.

Berck-sur-mer, France: 2 Jun 1944. Smith flew 44-40211.

Avord, France: 4 Jun 1944. Smith flew 44-40211.

Photo(L): Avord bombing Jun 44.

Pointe-et-Raz, Normandy, France: 6 June 1944. Smith flew 44-40211.

The ninety-foot cliffs of Pointe et Raz de la Percée were on the right border of Omaha Beach and left of Pointe du Hoc. On the morning of 6 June (D-Day) soldiers of the 2nd Ranger Battalion’s B Company were dispatched to scale the cliffs of Pointe et Raz de la Percée. Under deadly accurate fire from above, the Rangers had to succeed or guns overlooking Omaha Beach would have driven the landing force off the Normandy beaches. Every bomb and shell that preceded the Ranger assault would have saved untold numbers of Allied servicemen. Unfortunately, the 8th AF did their best, considering the cloud cover and weather turned against them. Most planes dropped their bombs over areas they hoped would be legitimate targets, however, it was guess-work.

Angers, France: 8 Jun 1944. Smith flew 44-40211.

Photo (L): Bombs fall on Angers 8 Jun 44.

Emmerich, Germany: 14 Jun 1944. Smith flew 44-40211.

Photo (L): bombing of oil refinery at Emmerich 14 Jun 44.

Sturla was assigned to the Smith crew on 12 June. This was his first mission as lead navigator with Smith.

La Frilliere, France: 15 Jun 1944. Smith flew 44-40156 [lost 7 Jul 1944]

Tours, France: 17 Jun 1944. Smith flew B-24 “Umbriago” 44-40068.

Politz, Germany: 20 Jun 1944. Smith flew 44-40211.

Photo (L): Smoke rises from bombing of Politz 20 Jun 44.

LaVaudoliere, France: 25 Jun 1944. Smith flew B-24 “I’ll Be Around” 44-40132 [lost 7 Jul 1944].

Saaurbrucken, Germany: 28 Jun 1944. Smith flew 44-40211.

Munich, Germany: 12 Jul 1944. Smith flew 44-40130.

Photo (L): Smith’s B-24 on the ground at  Ghedi , Italy after crew’s capture.

This is Harry Sturla’s caricature drawing of Herschel Smith. The two POWs were the camp champs at bridge. The currency was cigarettes. Once Smith and Sturla cleaned house at the card table, they were the richest poor men in the compound.