Ernest J. Koger, Jr.

Eau Claire Gunner Gets Nazi, Rides Riddled Bomber Home
U. S. BOMBER BASE IN BRITAIN, January 18 (AP)—The Flying Fortress, Spirit of '44, came home from Oschersleben on two engines, last Tuesday, with 250 bullet holes and a crew claiming destruction of 10 Nazi fighters, it was disclosed Monday.

The pilot, Lieutenant Eldridge V. Greer, 29, of Houston, TX, roared the big craft down the main streets of German towns, using trees as a cover from pursuing enemy fighters. 

The Texas airman avowed his ship finally crossed the coast so low that "the flak towers had to shoot down on us." 

The Fortress landed with its nose shot away, a 16-inch hole in the radio room, the bomb bay doors partly open, and the rest of the ship pierced like a sieve. The crew escaped injury.

Greer's Fort had a part in one of the greatest aerial battles of the war—a mission in which sixty big bombers, five fighters were lost, and 152 enemy fighters were destroyed, as the U.S. Eighth Air Force went after German aircraft factories.

Bombardier Lieutenant Louis R. Dobbs of Katemcy, TX claimed destruction of three FW-190s from the chin turret. Top turret gunner, Sergeant Casmer W. Lwowski of Peninsula, OH, also claimed three. Sergeant Robert A. Mueller of Wood Ridge, NJ claimed two from his tail gun position, and Sergeant James E. Purton of East Liverpool, OH and Sergeant Ernest J. Koger, Jr., of Eau Claire, WI one each.

"Over the target, we lost two engines and our oxygen system," said Lieutenant William D. Wood of Pleasureville, KY, the co-pilot. "We dropped down, fighting all the way, to begin a race with two Messerschmitts that stayed with us to the coast."

"Whenever possible, we flew below tree-top level,'' added Greer.

"Every time we saw a village, we'd pull over and fly down the streets, so the fighters would have to shoot up their own towns to shoot at us."

Three times the exhausted crewman prepared for a crash landing. The bombardier smashed his precious bombsight and gunners put on their walking shoes and divided their cigarettes, but Greer and the Spirit of '44 brought them safely home.

Sergeant Koger, a ball turret gunner, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest J. Koger, 1903 Clairemont Avenue. He is a veteran of many raids over Nazi-held Europe, including two on Schweinfurt, and holds the Air Medal with several Oak Leaf Clusters.

Gets Air Medal
AN 8TH AAF BOMBER COMMAND STATION, England—Staff Sergeant Ernest J. Koger, Jr., 19, flying Fortress ball turret gunner, has made 17 daylight bombing raids over Nazi Europe. For the destruction of an enemy fighter plane and meritorious achievement in combat, he has been awarded the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters. 

He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest J. Koger, 1903 Clairemont Avenue, Eau Claire, WI.

Sergeant Koger has been on two raids to Schweinfurt, including the October raid, which was one of the war's greatest air battles, as the Germans fought running battles with the determined Fortress crews, bent on crippling Hitler's ball-bearing industry. 

First, single-engine fighters gave the Forts all they had. These were reinforced by a belt of twin-engine fighters, lobbing rocket shells. Sergeant Koger, from his ball turret, fired hundreds of rounds of .50-caliber ammunition to discourage the determined Nazi pilots. 

During his tour of bombing operations, Sergeant Koger has been over industrial and military targets at St. Nazaire, Hamburg., Flushing, Gilze Rijen, Villa Coublay, Evereux, Rommily, Nantes, Emden, and Wilhelmshaven.

Gets DFC, Trip Home After 50 Bomb Missions
The Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster have been awarded to Technical Sergeant Ernest Koger, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Koger, 321 Tenth Avenue.

Technical Sergeant Koger was recently home on a 15-day leave, after completing his 50 missions.

During his tour of bombing operations from bases in England, he was over industrial and military targets at Schweinfurt, St. Nazaire, Hamburg, Flushing, Gilze Rijen, Villa Coublay, Evereux, Rommily, Nantes, Emden, Wilhelmshaven, and  other cities.