Donald F. Geng, B-17 Ball Turret Gunner

 
 
Donald F. Geng, B-17 Ball Turret Gunner, Sgt., United States Army Air Forces, Eighth Air Force, 303rd Bomb Group (Heavy) ("Hells Angels," Motto: "Might in Flight,") 359th Bomb Squadron, Jack W. Bailey Crew, Molesworth Air Base, England. 12-1-44 to 2-9-45, POW. Stalag VII-A, Moosburg, Bavaria.

Aircrewman on

B-17G #43-38609 (The plane they flew their first mission in.)

Pilot Bailey, Jack W., 2Lt

Co-Pilot Force, James G., 2Lt

Navigator Swenson, Glen R., 2Lt

Bombardier Johnson, David E., 2Lt

Flight Engineer Muller, Carl A., Sgt

Radio Operator Darden, Elwyn J., Sgt

Ball Turret Geng, Donald F., Sgt

Tail Gunner Eckert, Merle W., Sgt

Waist Gunner McGuire, William E., Sgt

and

B-17G #43-38764 (7 missions in this plane including their 15th, or  last one, when they were shot down)

P Bailey, Jack W., 2Lt

CP Hall, Merwin G., 2Lt

NAV Swenson, Glen R., 2Lt

BOM Johnson, David E., 2Lt

ENG Muller, Carl A., Sgt

RO Darden, Elwyn J., Sgt

BT Geng, Donald F., Sgt

TG Merle Eckert, Sgt. (and as a replacement on one of seven missions, McDonald, Billy L., Sgt**) (See below)

According to research by Terry Eckert, Merle's son, Merle Eckert was shot down with Don Geng on their 15th mission.

WG McGuire, William E., Sgt

See his Presentation (tape ended midway)
Don Geng, B-17 Ball Turret Gunner, 8th AF, 303rd BG, 359th BS,
Training and Arrival at Molesworth, England.
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**On June 26, 2013 Terry Eckert sent this info about the Tail Gunner and Don's aircrew and their planes.
 
" Dear Mr. Callahan,
     Thank you for your part in documenting airmen from the Second World War. What you are doing is very important...
I did though discover one error that I would like to bring to your attention that was in the, "8th Air Force Historical Society of MN  Presentations", "Donald F. Geng  B-17 Ball Turret Gunner" site. Mr. Geng was the Ball Turret Gunner along with my father, Merle Eckert, the Tail Gunner on the same crew. The first one, #43-38609 is by the way the aircraft that the crew flew their first mission. They never flew that particular B-17 again but flew several different aircraft on their remaining 15 missions. The other Aircraft listed, #43-38764 was the  B-17 they flew on their last mission where they were given orders to bail-out. They flew that B-17 more than any other aircraft, a total of 7 missions! My father flew all but one mission with that crew as the tail gunner.
Sincerely,
Terry Eckert

P.S.  May I suggest that you remove the listing of the first B-17 and crew which is confusing as to why it is listed and just keep the second one since almost half of their missions including their final were in that aircraft."
 
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Don Geng Passed away April 26, 2011, Age 87, of St. Paul, MN,  O'Halloran & Murphy Funeral Home (651) 698-0796 "Services pending. Full notice to follow."
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O'Halloran & Murphy Obituary Notice (below)

Donald Francis Geng

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Age 87, A loving and gentle man of deep faith Don peacefully "slipped the surly bonds of Earth" April 26, 2011. A life-long resident of St. Paul, Don was born to Francis J. and Martha (Illa) Geng on April 14, 1924.
 
Don acquired his life-long fascination with all things aeronautical at an early age from his father. Don grew up at Holman Field, where he assisted mechanics and pilots alike and was repaid with flying lessons, earning his pilot's license at age 14. After graduating from Monroe High School in 1942, where he received the American Legion's Outstanding Student Award, Don enrolled at the U of M where he planned to study aeronautical engineering. Don enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943. Following basic training and gunnery school, Don was assigned to the 303rd Heavy Bombardment Group at Molesworth, England where he joined the crew of a B-17 Flying Fortress as a ball turret gunner in December 1944. On his 13th mission on February 9, 1945, his plane sustained flack damage after releasing its bombs and a Luftwaffe fighter squadron inflicted further damage. The pilot ordered the crew to bail out. Don was captured after parachuting into a German farm field; he spent the remainder of the war as a POW.
 
After the war, Don returned to the U where he graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the IT in 1948. Don spent his professional career as an engineer with several architectural firms before joining the Metropolitan Waste Control Commission as a Staff Engineer from 1975-1995. The focus of Don's life, however, was his family, his children's education, and his church. Don's life-long friend, Bob Barry, introduced him to Bob's cousin, Patricia Elaine Barry, the love of his life. They married at Holy Spirit in June 1950, and raised five children in the parishes of Holy Spirit, St. Pascal's and Nativity. Don was a particularly active member of Nativity Church and School, where he long served as a lector, cantor and Eucharistic minister as well as a member of the Choir and the Men's Club. He actively supported his children's high schools at Our Lady of Peace, Cretin, and Derham Hall.
 
Following his beloved Pat's death in 1989 and his retirement in 1995, Don actively pursued his aviation interests, serving as a guide and historical interpreter at the Air Guard Aviation Museum; the Planes of Fame Museum; numerous air shows throughout the Twin Cities; attending annual reunions of the 303rd Bomb Group; serving as an Officer of the 8th Air Force Historical Society; and spending countless hours with a small group of aviation friends who built a 1918 Curtiss JN4 "Jenny" airplane from scratch. That plane now hangs in the rotunda of the Minnesota History Center. Don was a long-time member of Hamline American Legion Post 418, and an enthusiastic supporter of Attucks Brooks American Legion Post 606.
 
Don is now reunited with his loving wife Pat, parents Frank and Martha, stepmother Ethel (Merrick) Geng, sister Dorothy Necas, brothers Paul and Larry, and two grandchildren, Michael Pringle and Sarah Geng. Don is survived and will be lovingly remembered by his sisters, Elizabeth Joan Glaser of White Bear Lake, MaDonna Jean McCollum of Brighton, Colorado, Catherine (Dick) Treichel of Stillwater, Bea Geng, and Kay Barry Janisch; five children, Jeanne (Mark) Pringle, Don Geng, Elizabeth Kringle, Tom (Nancy Ferrell) Geng, and Kate Jonas, and eleven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Heartfelt thanks go to Don's Wellesley Avenue neighbors for their kind care and genuine concern for his welfare, especially during his last few years in his home. In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to Medical Behavioral Services at Bethesda Hospital, St. Paul; Camp Courage; Cretin-Derham; Disabled American Veterans; or Nativity Grade School. Don's family and friends will share memories at O'Halloran & Murphy's from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, to celebrate Don's faith and resurrection at a Mass of Christian Burial at Nativity of Our Lord Church at 10 AM on Tuesday, May 3, and to bid farewell to Don at Fort Snelling National Cemetery at 1:30 PM.
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