SCHMIDT, JOHN TOWNSEND, JR., Second Lieutenant, # 0-740118, USAAF
John T. Schmidt was born on 13 November 1918 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to John Schmidt and Margaret Schmidt. Further details unable to be found without more data. Assistance would be very appreciated – please use the contact page form.
He registered for the WWII draft on 16 October 1940, resided at 5817 N. Front, Philadelphia, PA, employed by Olney Canning Machinery Co., and described himself as 6’3”, 160 lbs, with red hair and blue eyes. He enlisted in the USAAF on 7 December 1941. After enlisting in the USAAF, he completed flight instruction through advanced school and was multi-engine rated. He earned his commission and pilot wings. He was sent overseas to India to fly the B-25 Mitchell bomber in August 1943. On 10 January 1944 a B25D, # 41-30438, assigned to 14th Air Force, Detached 11th Bomb Squadron (Medium), departed Suichwan, China, on a combat mission to Middle Yangtze, Kiukiang, China, and was seen to crash at 29° 41’ North & 115° 56’ East. 1stLt Jack H. Potter, 0-794447, reported that Lt.Col. Wells was flight leader and 2ndLt Skelton was flying # 2 position. The mission was low level. They approached from the South and up the river, strafing and bombing river craft encountered. At Kiukiang, they saw two large boats anchored by the North bank. Lt. Skelton attacked the nearest but turned to the left toward the city before closing to bombing range. He made a 360 degree right turn and bombed the dock. There was a large explosion. Potter next saw Skelton leaving Kiukiang on a southerly heading, trailing smoke, and in a climbing left turn. Skelton’s B-25 began losing altitude with its left wing down. There appeared to be no recovery attempt and it crashed about 5 miles South of the town. It burst into flames and exploded on impact. It skidded along then a 2nd explosion occurred. 2ndLt Robert S. Thompson, 0-796455, reported that Skelton and Potter began a run on the 2 ships, which were destroyers, Skelton made a sharp left turn toward town. He made a right turn and flew past the destroyers. He climbed to about 1,000’, made a 180 degree left turn and dove to about 500’ and released bombs. There was a terrific explosion. Skelton made a right turn over town, losing altitude. He skidded on the ground, but the B-25 burst into flames about 2-3 miles out of the town. 2ndLt Albert J. Vavrick, 0-7971-4, reported added that there was a lot of anti-aircraft fire and a large formation of enemy fighters. After recovery of crew remains, those of Skelton, Schmidt, and Miller, were indistinguishable. They were buried in a group ceremony in the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, on 18 July 1949 (Sec. 34, Grave 4996-4997).