KRUEGER, CHARLES H., First Lieutenant, # 0-860702, USAAF
Charles H. Krueger was born on 3 October 1920 in Monroe, Green Co., Wisconsin, to Charles Edward Krueger (1880-1976) and Dorothea “Dora” S. (Asmus) Krueger (1880-1978). Siblings included Coyla Marie (Krueger) Cox (1905-2006), Zelma Hedwig (Krueger) Ferdinand (1910-1985), and Charlene (Krueger) Riley (1913-1993). He was married to Patricia V. Ryall on 1 April 1940 in King Co., Washington, and had two sons. He attended the University of Wisconsin.
After enlisting, he was trained as a flight engineer for the B-29 Superfortress. This required knowledge of the mechanical and electrical systems of the B-29 and, while in flight, he monitored an array of dials, sensors and switches to deal with in-flight difficulties. He and his crew departed for China in August 1944. On 7 December 1944, B-29, # 42-6299, “Humpin’ Honey,” of 20th Air Force, Pardoba India, 462nd Bomb Group, 770th Bomb Squadro, departed the airfield at Kuinglai, China, on a bombing mission to Mukden, Manchuria. Over the target, at 0122 Zulu, an enemy aircraft crashed head-long into the B-29, killing all but two of the crew on board (MACR 10125). SSgt Beckwith reported that the first unusual condition that was noticed in the B-29 was the disappearance of about 20 feet of the left wing. The B-29 seemed to fly straight and level for a while then started to spin to the left. SSgt Huss, Sgt Ruddy and Beckwith prepared to leave the gunners compartment to bail out. During this, Beckwith called on the interphone to the pilot to inform him of the damage to the left wing. There was no acknowledgment or answer. After the spin began, the alarm bell started to ring. Before he was able to completely fasten his parachute, he passed out from lack of oxygen. Before, he passed out, Sgt Ruddy entered the radar compartment. When Beckwith regained consciousness, he was out of the B-29 in a free fall at about 4,000 feet altitude. Only his arms were through the parachute straps, not his legs. He did not believe he had time to fasten the chest and leg straps so he pulled the rip cord and stayed with the parachute. After the parachute opened, he noticed that parts of the B-29 falling around him. He believes he saw the tail section hit the ground. They landed near a Japanese guard house, so did not have any chance to practice escape and evasion. He is remembered on the memorial wall of the Manila American Memorial Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.