MUSINSKI, HARRY H., Major, # 0-412688, USAAF

 

Harry H. Musinski was born on 19 December 1917 in Gardner, Worcester County, Massachusetts, to Konstanty (Musnicki) Musniski (1894-1944) and Josefa (Stankiewicz or Stankevich) Musniski (1892-1998). A sister was Mary (Musniski) Dockum (1919-1946). In the 1936 Gardner High School, yearbook: “He was known as Moosh, favorite saying,” ‘Tiger!,’ his ambition was to have the blonde always near. ‘Playing football helps Moosh with the Girl Scouts as well as [winning] many friends.’ General: letters in football, Junior & Senior, basketball, Junior, basketball numerals, Senior, swimming, Senior, Athletic Ball Committee,’ and soccer. In the class Will, he bequeaths “A Girl Scout manual to read while he is a hermit on Snake Pond.” He graduated from American International College in 1940. The 1942 directory for Newport News, Virginia, has an address for him, then a lieutenant, of 112 Victoria Ave., Apt. 1.

 

In January 1944, Major Musinski was the commander of the 308th Bomb Group (Heavy), 425th Bomb Squadron, 14th Air Force, China. He entered military service at Boston, Massachusetts, on 9 September 1940. He trained to be a pilot at Lakeland, Florida, Maxwell Field, Alabama (later Maxwell AFB), and was commissioned and received his wings at Maxwell Field. He was sent to Texas for advanced training. He left for overseas in 1942. He was stationed at Dakar, West Africa and took part in the invasion of North Africa at Tunisia (when General Rommel, Germany’s ‘Desert Fox,’ was defeated). He was transferred to 14th Air Force, China. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, EAME Campaign ribbon with two battle stars, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon with two battle stars and others. He was commander of a B-24 squadron that led the first Allied raid on Bangkok, Thailand (Siam). On 21 August, 1943, his squadron attacked a Japanese stronghold in China and was attacked by 70 to 80 enemy fighters and destroyed 57 of the enemy fighters in the air battle. He had completed more than 76 missions. On 25 January 1944, a B-24D, # 42-73242, “Haley’s Comet” (named after Lt Roger F. Haley) (converted to ferry passengers and cargo), departed Chabua, India, at 7:40 a.m., to fly to Kunming, China. It was assigned to the 425th Bomb Squadron of the 308th Bomb Group. At 10:45 a.m., over the Himalayas, the formation of five B-24Ds “was forced to break up due to extreme instrument weather conditions.” All five aircraft crashed; B-24D, # 41-23889, near Jorhat, India. Crews parachuted from two and a third, which crashed, had two survivors. The fourth and fifth, “Hot as Hell” and “Haley’s Comet,” disappeared, the crews presumed dead (Tara Copp, Stars & Stripes, 8 Apr 2016). "Haley’s Comet" was found eventually. The bomber was mentioned in China Up and Down by John T. Foster. His remains were recovered by Graves Registration from the Manila American Cemetery and returned to the U.S. to be buried in Wildwood Cemetery, Gardner, Massachusetts.