|Lt. Leo Eminger, B-17 navigator.|
Leo M. Eminger could have been 100 years old today.
He was born on March 14, 1917 in New Mexico. His parents were both born in Missouri. His father was a railroad welder and later a farmer. Leo had two older brothers and three older sisters. He had a twin sister named Cleo.
On December 31, 1940 Leo joined the Army Air Corps. as an aviation cadet. He had completed four years at New Mexico State College and was working as an actor (if that is possible to work as an actor). He became a 1st lieutenant.
Lt. Eminger was a navigator on one of the B-17s that landed on Pearl Harbor at the same time as the December 7, 1941 Japanese surprise attack. One of the reasons the Japanese surprised the Americans was because those who raised the early warning were told by mistake that it was this flight of B-17s.
During the war he served in the 42nd Bombardment Squadron, 11th Bombardment Group. On September 24, 1942, Lt. Eminger's B-17, named Bessie the Jap Basher, was on a mission with three other bombers to attack surface ships at anchor in Shortland Harbor. His plane was badly damaged when attacked by around 20 Zero fighters. Bessie limped away for another 290 miles but ditched near Guadalcanal. The pilot and one other airman swam ashore but later died. The other men on the plane, including Lt. Eminger never made it. The plane's wreckage was found a couple of years later, but no bodies were found.
For more details see Pacific Wrecks.
|Divers have found the remains of Lt. Eminger's B-17. This is the cockpit.|
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