, 2022-08-17 15:49:37,
Seventy-nine years and one day after Grafton native son and 1st Lt. Roy Harms was killed in the ill-fated Operation Tidal Wave during World War II, Harms’ remains were identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Harms’ nephew Slade Gerholt said Monday while reflecting on the call the family received notifying them of the news. “It was a surprise. Everyone’s pretty excited about it.
“I’m glad our uncle’s remains have been identified and there’s hopefully going to be some closure for the family, his friends, the Village and Town of Grafton and beyond.”
Slade’s wife Linda called the news “totally amazing.”
“I can’t get over it,” she said. “It’s a shock. It’s amazing — the whole family does feel astounded by it.”
Roy Harms was 26 when he died in the ill-fated attack on nine oil refineries around Ploesti, Romania, Allen Buchholz, vice president of the Ozaukee County Historical Society, said. Those refineries provided about 30% of the fuel needed by the Axis powers.
The battle was one of the costliest for the Army Air Force during the war, with 53 aircraft and 660 crewmen lost. Five Medals of Honor were awarded to soldiers for their actions that day, more than on any other single day in any war, as well as 56 Distinguished Service Crosses, among them one given to Harms.
Harms was a member of the 329th Bombardment Squadron, 93rd Bombardment Unit, who piloted a B-24 Liberator during Operation Tidal Wave. Of the 183 bombers that left Benghazi, Libya, on the mission, only 175 reached Romania, Buchholz said.
The attack was to be a surprise, with the planes flying at treetop level to evade radar, but the surprise was on the Americans, he said. Whether because of spies who notified the Germans ahead of time or whether the surprise was lost when the Allied planes crossed mountains in Yugoslavia hasn’t been determined, but the Germans were waiting for the planes and decimated the ranks of the Allies.
Harms’ plane, Hell’s Angel, was among those shot down, Buchholz said.
“It was a horrific crash,” he said. Harms and seven of the crew members were killed and one crew member parachuted out and was quickly captured.
Romanians in the area buried the bodies and remains they found in the Ploesti area, Buchholz said. After the war, the U.S. Graves Commission moved the unidentified remains to the Ardennes American Cemetery near Liege, Belgium.
Harms’ names was also listed on the Tablets…
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