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TSgt George Prezioso
43rd BG, 63rd BS Radio operator

Prezioso joined the CCC at age seventeen and then joined the U.S. Army in 1939. Assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 63rd Bombardment Squadron he was sent overseas to Australia.

Trained as a radio operator, he remembers being able to achieve roughly 35 words per minute in Morse Code. Prezioso flew combat mission from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby as a radio operator and gunner on a variety of B-17 crews beginning on April 5, 1943.

On the April 20 1943 he flew a mission against Wewak, flying with Captain Folmer Sogaard in B-17F "Fightin' Swede" 41-24520 that skip bombed a tanker which was "burning fiercely" and "definitely sunk", then bombed the airfield. Only other shipping damage claimed on that mission was Lt William O'Brien in B-17F "Talisman" claiming two "very near misses" on another ship.

While flying as as a radio operator during a night bombing mission on the night of July 10-11, 1943, he survived the ditching of B-17F "Black Jack / The Joker's Wild" 41-24521 off Cape Vogel and was rescued along with the entire crew.

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Later, was assigned to the 317th Troop Carrier Group, 39th Troop Carrier Squadron, flying B-17s converted to armed transports, with their lower turret removed and cargo bins installed in the bomb bay. They participated in missions dropping supplies to Allied troops beyond the reach of fighter escort.

In total, he flew 72 combat missions totaling over 500 combat hours. In late 1944, he returned to the United States and spent the remainder of the war stateside. Postwar, he worked for Wright building engines. Now, he lives in retirement in his hometown in New Jersey.

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References
Thanks to George Prezioso and Steve Birdsall for additional information

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