Bernie Kellenyi, USA Air Corps

Red Bank, NJ

Bernie attended both Red Bank (N.J.) HS and Red Bank Catholic. He had been in college for a year or two when the Japanese attacked. He joined the Army Air Corps and completed B-17 pilot training. He was assigned to a squadron in the UK by 1944. He flew 33 missions with the same aircraft and most of the same crew. Bernie spoke to local high school students in 2007. He appeared with his pilot hat and headset. 1,200 kids in the auditorium and you could hear a pin drop.
He told them about his most dangerous mission. They had to bomb Berlin, the most heavily guarded city. They left the UK in formation with fighter escort. The flew at 25,000 feet with flak jackets and oxygen masks. There were 10 in the crew including two pilots, navigator, bombardier, radio operator and gunners. with 30- and 50-caliber machine guns. As they approached Berlin the anti-aircraft flak started, as well as German fighter aircraft.
All the planes in the formation took hits and some went down. Bernie's plane was hit in the nose cone, taking out the bombardier. Cold air was rushing in and the crew pulled the bombardier to the rear and gave first aid. He dropped the plane from 25,000 to 10,000 feet for oxygen and warmer air. They hada bomb site and a full load of bombs. Bernie let the bombs go over farms and managed to land in Holland for rescue and repair. After 33 missions they never lost a crewman or plane.
They had holes in the plane after every mission. One hell of a plane for sure. One hell of a crew as well. The teachers remarked they had never seen the students so quiet and attentive.

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