PLAYEZ, IRVIN GEORGE “BUD”, Staff Sergeant, # 33247850, USAAF
Irvin G. Playez was born 18 September 1914 in Hooversville, Pennsylvania, to George Julius Playez (1888-1966) and Iva Maude (Hamer) Playez. He had several siblings, including Alice Kathryn Playez (1910-1994), Leah Miriam Playez (1912-2000), Alma Susan Playez (1916-2010), James Hamer Playez (1918-2009), Ella Marie Playez (1920-2018), Janet Hope Playez (1923-2009), Lucy Elizabeth Playez (1925-2016), Georgette Playez (1927-2007), and another sister. He was married twice (Elizabeth A. Gallic nee Playez nee Cowan) and had a son and a daughter.
He registered for the WW II draft in 1940 while working at the Bethlehem Steel Company. He described himself as 5’10”, 156 lbs, with brown hair and gray eyes. He enlisted while living in Johnstown, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, on 16 July 1942, in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He was trained in aerial photography and, like all enlisted men, served as a gunner on the B-25G. He began his overseas assignment on 30 March 1943. On 22 February 1944, B-25G, # 42-64779, assigned to the 341st Bomb Group, 490th Bomb Squadron, departed the 10th Air Force base at Kurmitola, India, on a combat mission of targets of opportunity on the railway south of Monywa, Burma. At 1145 hours, it was hit by anti-aircraft fire, burst into flames, and was seen to crash. All aboard were killed. He is remembered in a memorial at the Manila American Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.
On 26 February 1944 a B-25H, # 43-4363, departed from the 10th Air Force base at Kurmitola, India, assigned to the 341st Bomb Group, 490th Bomb Squadron, on a combat mission to bomb the enemy bridge at Bawgyo, Burma. At 1337, the aircraft was shot down by anti-aircraft fire. The crew, all of whom were killed, was comprised of:
Pilot 1stLt Kenneth A. Hardy 0-736903
Navigator 1stLt Kenneth W. Foster 0-733425
Engineer SSgt Floyd M. Campbell 13040691
Radio Operator SSgt Albert (NMI) Chibnik 11007703
Armorer Sgt (Cpl) William J. Mahen Jr. 14079868
Photographer SSgt William H. Rinne Jr. 6997742
(All enlisted men served as gunners)
Two witnesses saw the B-25H crash: 1stLt Emmett C. Hannes, 0-735577 and 1stLt Theodore H. Joffe, 0-789111. 1stLt Joffe reported: He was navigator on another B-25H, 43-4222. At 1336 hours, they made their final bomb run over the target. They made a left turn and he saw an aircraft in a very steep climb to the north. He saw a puff of white smoke from it but could not tell from what part of the aircraft it came. It stalled out and fell off toward the left wing. It was in a dive and he saw a large puff of white smoke. There seemed to be no attempt to pull out of the dive. It crashed straight into a sloping hill. There was an explosion and then fire. They circled several times to take pictures but with binoculars at 200 feet altitude, could not locate any ground gun positions. It crashed at 1337 hours.