December 2, 2010 - Robert W Sternfels - WWII B-24 Pilot
During the famed August 1, 1943, low-level bombing mission against Ploesti, Romania,
Robert Sternfels piloted the Bomber named "Sandman,"
which was photographed at smoke-stack level and which became one of the most identified photographs of that historic mission.
One of the most recognized photographs of the air war in Europe during WW II,
is a B-24 Liberator emerging from the fire and smoke of the burning Ploesti Oil Refinery on the Low Level Raid of 1 August 1943.
This B-24D, was The Sandman, serial number 42-40402 with Robert Sternfels at the Pilotís controls.
Luck certainly was with them that day as The Sandman had taken AAA and small arms weapons fire from a famous Q Train,
as well as making contact with a barrage balloon cable just before entering the smoke and fire and then having to dodge smoke stacks in their path on their way out...
Details of this action are recorded in Bob Sternfelsí book "Burning Hitlerís Black Gold."
The Sandman survived the action this day to fly a total of 47 and one half missions.
First Lieutenant (Air Corps) Robert W. Sternfels, United States Army Air Forces,
was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force
while serving as a Pilot of the Fifteenth Air Force during World War II.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926,
presented the Distinguished Flying Cross to First Lieutenant (Air Corps) Robert W. Sternfels, United States Army Air Forces,
for distinguished and meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight against the enemy
in operations against the Ploesti Oil Refineries of Romania on 1 August 1943.
These men of the 345th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group were all members of aircrews of
heavy bombardment aircraft which assaulted the major fuel supply of the Axis on the above date.
In a mission which involved extraordinary difficulty of execution and very great danger,
they performed their tasks assigned to them with such efficiency,
application to duty and fearlessness that in the face of almost overwhelming odds,
the operation was successfully accomplished.
Flying through enemy flak, bursting bombs, flaming, smoking oil tanks, and a balloon barrage,
they bombed and strafed their objective with such satisfactory effect as
to destroy the source of more than one third of the enemy's refined fuel.
Their achievement adds a new and brilliant chapter to the record of the Army Air Forces.
"Bob Sternfels, 89, of Laguna Beach, is shown next to a B-24 Liberator "Witchcraft" parked outside the Lyon Air Museum.
Sternfels was the pilot of the B-24 Liberator "The Sandman" that was made famous with the August 1, 1943 photo of
the bomber clearing the smoke stacks of a Romanian oil refinery after dropping its bombs.
The photo became the iconic image of the low-level bombing mission known as the Ploesti Raid." LEONARD ORTIZ, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
December 9, 2010 - Malcolm Campbell - Vietnam War Pilot
Mr. Malcolm Campbell is retired Chief Warrant Officer with the United States Army.
Mr. Campbell flew both medivac and assault helicopters during the Vietnam War and continued flying the Cobra Attack helicopter
until his retirement from active duty in 1994.
He has logged 6000 hours in a variety of jets and helicopters.
Malcolm Campbell will present his personal home movies from 1965-66 of his tour in Vietnam with a narrative to go along with them.