To mark the Fourth of July in 1942, the Eighth Air Force flew its official first combat mission, identified as “Mission One” in Eighth Air Force documents. In six Douglas A-20 Bostons, borrowed from 226 Squadron, Royal Air Force, these Americans from the 15th Bombardment Squadron (Light) flew in formation with six RAF crews in low-level strikes on four Luftwaffe airfields in occupied Holland. This Independence Day mission also marked the first USAAF Prisoner of War (Marshall D. Draper) and first Distinguished Service Cross awarded to an Eighth Air Force airman (Charles C. Kegelman). Kegelman’s A-20 was hit by flak on the starboard engine that blew off the propeller, causing Kegelman to scrape the tarmac at the Nazi occupied De Kooy Airdrome in Holland. He managed to regain control, jettisoned his bombs, and strafed a flak tower. He then headed back to England and his base at Swanton Morley. No one on his crew was injured.
The Museum’s Collection includes a Giclée Print of Nixon Galloway’s The First Mission / July 4th 1942 showing Kegelman’s damaged A-20.
Article by Dr. Vivian Rogers-Price