The medals and Badges John Liekhus probably earned
John H. Liekhus entered the Service from California. First Lieutenant Liekhus was a pilot with the 91st Bombardment Group, 323rd Bomber Squadron Heavy. Liekhus’ plane, Boeing built silver G model (B-17), was named after the girl painted on the nose of the plane, “Bomber Dear”. She was portrayed fully dressed in a flight suit and parachute harness, waving a flying helmet. The plane’s first combat flight was to Brussels three days after assignment to the group.
Leonard Liekhus on the left and John Liekhus on the right. Leonard had flown his B-26 from France over to Bassingbourne air base to visit with John. They were going to a party on-base the day this picture was taken. Mr. Michael D. Cushing said: "Leonard told me that John was wearing a borrowed flight jacket, hence the mix-up as regards the names. It was the last time that anyone from our Family saw John alive. This was in August, 1944."
1st Lt. Leonard Liekhus
387th Bombardment Group
557th Bomber Squadron, Medium
“Bomber Dear” was one of 13 Forts from the group which were lost during the disastrous mission of November 2, 1944. The mission was to bomb the oil facilities at Merseburg. The stream of bombers flew at about 26,000ft when they were attacked by a Sturmgruppe of about 50 to 75 German fighter planes. In huge waves the German fighter planes attacked the formation in a though battle that lasted about 20 minutes. 1/Lt. John H. Liekhus’ “Bomber Dear” was hit after 10 minutes in battle, on her 66th sortie. It was hit very badly and was reported as peeling away from the group at 12.57 Hours encased in a ball of flame. The plane crashed near the town of Barby, Germany. 1/Lt. Liekhus and four of his crew were killed, but miraculously four others survived the inferno. The bombardier 2nd Lt. Robert H. Sambo, along with 2nd Lt. Robert Wisor and Sgt. Bruno Lombardi were taken prisoner. Mr. Cushing said: "My great-uncle, 1st Lt. John H. Liekhus, was the pilot of Bomber Dear, and he went down with the plane after ordering the crew to bail out. His brothers and sisters, and my Mom, thought he was a great guy, and he was sorely missed when he was killed in action."
John Liekhus' Purple Heart and Purple Heart Ribbon
John Liekhus on the left and Leonard Liekhus on the right
Mr. Micheal D. Cushing told me that Leonard survived the war and is now living in California with his wife, Jane.
Leonard flew with his plane named "Contrary Baby" with the 387th Bombardment Group, 557th Bomber Squadron Medium. His first mission was on March 26, 1944 to Ijmuiden, Holland. It was apparently a rough mission. "Sadly, Uncle Len is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He loved flying the B-26, he felt like he was flying a "hotrod"!"
John H. Liekhus
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery
Tablets of the Missing at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, Belgium
(Picture courtesy of Rick Demas)
Mr. Michael D. Cushing, MD