Major Figures from Bombing Hitler's Hometown
First Lieutenant Ellsworth Croissant, a bombardier in the 459th Bomb Group, survived the mission and the war without a scratch. On the way home to Webster Park, Illinois, in September 1945, Croissant—the uncle of Mike Croissant—perished in a senseless plane crash. He was 22 years old.
Tech Sergeant Dale Shebilsky was wounded over Linz, and his B-24 crash landed in Hungary. He gave himself up to America's Soviet "allies," who tortured and abused him before returning him to US custody. He was repatriated with the rest of his 456th Bomb Group crew through Odessa in the Soviet Ukraine.
Corporal Hal Millett, a ball turret gunner in the 99th Bomb Group, developed a personal credo during the war that “the best that can happen is that the worst won't happen.” He survived the Linz mission, stayed in the Air Force, and retired as a Senior Master Sergeant.
Staff Sergeant and ball turret gunner John Dominey injured his shoulder the night before the Linz raid but went on the mission anyway, only to be shot down and captured with the rest of his 455th Bomb Group crew. He was captured and held as a prisoner of war until liberated by advancing US Army units.
Achilles Kozakis, a nose gunner in the 451st Bomb Group, completed his 35-mission combat tour over Linz. Twice-decorated with the Purple Heart, the son of Greek immigrants watched the aircraft in front of him go down in flames over Hitler's hometown.
Second Lieutenant Frank Diederichs was filling in as another crew's bombardier over Linz. Their B-24 was severely damaged and made an emergency landing in Hungary, and the men spent the rest of the war as guests of the Soviets.
Second Lieutenant Richard Halliday, a B-17 pilot in the Second Bomb Group, was wounded over Linz when flak struck his oxygen regulator and pierced his hip. A quick-thinking crew mate hooked Halliday up to a portable oxygen bottle, saving his life.
Flight Officer and navigator Herbie Westerlund was shot down over Linz. He and his surviving 483rd Bomb Group crew mates were taken to Mauthausen, the most notorious Nazi concentration camp in Austria, where they were mistreated by the SS.
OSS officer Jack Taylor was captured during a spy mission into Austria and imprisoned at Mauthausen. There, he witnessed the mistreatment of Herbie Westerlund and his crew mates after the Linz raid. Taylor is widely considered one of the first sea, air, and land commandos—known today as Navy SEALs.