PRAWDZIK, RICHARD JOHN, Sergeant, # 36809230, USAAF
Richard J. Prawdzik was born on 22 June 1918 in Wisconsin to Adolph Victor Prawdzik (1893-1986) (Poland) and Mary Anna (Krukar) Prawdzik (1895-1978) (Poland – both naturalized). Siblings included Genevieve Catherine (Prawdzik) Harenda (1921-2006), Henry Adolph Prawdzik (1924-2003), and Quentin John Prawdzik (1928-1999). He graduated from the Milwaukee Boys Technical School and attended Wisconsin Art Academy.
After enlisting in the USAAF, he was trained as an armorer and gunner, responsible for the maintenance and function of the weapons (excluding bombs), on the B-24 Liberator and earned his crewman wings. He was sent overseas to India. On 5 November 1944, a B-24L Liberator, # 44-41440, assigned to 10th Air Force, 7th Bomb Group, 493rd Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Pandaveswar, India, on a bombing mission over coordinates 17º 42’ North & 92º 02’ East. All of the crew were killed in the crash of the B-24L. It was last sighted by 1stLt William T. Makovic, 0-696478, 2ndLt John M. Crowley, 0-712085, and 2ndLt George J. MeNamera, 0-869350. 1stLt Makovic reported that at 1840 hours (IST) he last saw Lt. Cheaney’s B-24. Lt. Cheany was at 2,000’ on a course of 190º at about 160 MPH. Makovic was flying parallel to Cheaney and was about 3-4 miles to Cheaney’s right. The weather worsened for a few minutes. It cleared and at the same moment, Lt. Cheaney’s B-24 veered across in front of him at about an 80º angle and disappeared into clouds to Makovic’s right. It was dark and Cheaney had his lights on. Cheaney’s turn was irregular because the flight plan was to continue on course for another 15 minutes before their first turn, which would be left, not right. There was no distress call and nothing appeared abnormal as to Cheaney’s B-24. A search with Capt. Louis A. Butler, Jr., 0-558867, commanding, was by eight planes on 7 November 1944. After recovery, his remains were buried in the National Memorial of the Pacific (Sec. F, Grave 179). He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.
His brother, Quentin J. Prawdzik, born 19 September 1928, served in the U.S. Air Force from 24 June 1948 to 26 September, during the Korean War, He died 14 July 1999 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.