SKURKA, JOHNNIE WILLIAM, Staff Sergeant, # 38232022, USAAF
Johnnie W. Skurka was born on 24 October 1921 in Jarrell, Williamson Co., Texas, to John Paul Skurka (1895-1980) and Millie Lydia (Roznovak) Skurka (1900-1953) (married 15 June 1918, TX). Siblings were John Paul Skurka Jr. (1924-1947), Elizabeth Shurka (1920- ) Mary Ann Skurka (1933- ). Some of this information could not be corroborated.
He registered for the WWII draft on 16 February 1942, resided in Jarrell, Williamson Co., TX, and described himself as 5’7 ½”, 140 lbs, with brown hair and blue eyes. He enlisted in the USAAF in Abilene, Texas, on 9 November 1942. After he enlisted in the USAAF, he was trained to maintain the weapons (armorer) and to shoot the .50 caliber machine gun on the B-24 Liberator. He earned his crewman wings. He was sent overseas through India to China. On 11 February 1945 a B-24L, # 44-41448, assigned to 14th Air Force, 308th Bomb Group, 373rd Bomb Squadron, Luliang, China, departed on a night mission to bomb shipping in the Tonkin Gulf, French Indochina. Last radio contact was at 2320 Zulu, that the B-24L was heading for coordinates 21° 10’ North and 107° 30’ East and intended to bail out there. Last position was off Tien-Yen, French Indochina, near Ka-Bao Island. The following radio messages were received: 2300 – 60 miles off coast. Bad fuel lead # 3 tank. Engine # 3 on fire. 9,000’ altitude; 2305 – heading for 21° 45’ N & 108° 00’ E, intending to bail out there; 2310 – trying to make it to “Darkhorse;” 2320 – heading for 21° 10’ N & 107° 30’ E, intending to bail out there. 1stLt William H. Stafford, navigator, was the sole survivor and returned to duty 5 March 1945. He is remembered on the tablets of the missing in the Manila American Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines. He is remembered in the Robstown Cemetery, Robstown, Nueces Co., Texas.