41-30438         B25

 

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, and was seen to crash at 29° 41’ North & 115° 56’ East. The crew was:

                                      Pilot                                      2ndLt Thomas L. Skelton                    0-738272 KIA

                                      Co-Pilot                                2ndLt John T. Schmidt                        0-740118 KIA

                                      Navigator/Bombardier          2ndLt Stanley A. Szczeanik                0-800286 KIA

                                      Crew Chief                            SSgt Franklin G. Miller                       37250166 KIA

                                      Photographer                         Sgt Carl K. Cannon                              13097820

 

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. The next-of-kin listed were:

                                     Skelton            Mary N. Skelton, W, 151 Franklin St., Oakland City, IN

                                     Schmidt           Margaret T. Schmidt, M, 5435 Rising Sun Ave., Philadelphia, PA

                                     Szczopanik      Rose Musial Szozopanik, M, 1001 Exchange St., Buffalo, NY

                                     Miller               Alvaneal E. Miller, W, 3-7th St., Judson Hill, Greenville, SC

                                     Cannon            Celestine S. Cannon, M, 6033 York Rd, Philadelphia, PA

SKELTON, THOMAS L., Second Lieutenant, # 0-738272, USAAF

 

Thomas L. Skelton was born on 28 September 1922 in Bicknell, Knox Co., Indiana to John Napier Skelton (1894-1963) (PA) and Elizabeth (Lackey) Skelton (1900-1983) (IN) (married 12 January 1917, Knox Co., IN). Siblings included Gladine Mae Skelton (1917-2001), John Mathew Skelton (1920-2000) and Robert William Skelton (1934-2009). He was married to Mary Elizabeth (Seitz) Upson nee Skelton (1922-1998) of Oakland City, Indiana.

 

He enlisted in the USAAF in LaFayette, Indiana, on 25 March 1942. 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. 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.