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1st Lt. Gilbert E. Erb
B-17 Pilot in Java and New Guinea

Background
Click For EnlargementBorn in Chicago, IL and joined the US Army Air Force on February 12, 1940 and attended Spartan School of Aero at Tulsa, OK until May 1940. Next, Randolph Field from May-July for advanced flying school, followed by Kelly Field during October for squadron school. Assigned to the 7th Bombardment Group, HQ Squadron on October 4, then to Salt Lake City and was assigned to the 28th Bombardment Squadron on November 30 and served with them until December 1941.

Wartime History
Click For EnlargementAfter the attack on Pearl Harbor, Erb deployed on December 11, 1941, flying cross country to Hamilton Field, Hickam Field, and overseas to Australia.

He flew LB-30 and B-24s during the February 1942 from Java.

Afterwards, assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group, 28th Bombardment Squadron based at Melbourne, then with flight "A" in Western Australia, then Queensland and New Guinea flying combat missions.

During February LB-30 AL572, LB-30 AL573, LB-30 AL515 and LB-30 AL508.

During May-June flew B-17E "Monkey Bizz-Ness" 41-2417

During July flew B-17E 41-2437 plus B-17E "G.I. Issue" 41-2421 and B-17E "The Last Straw" 41-2432

During August 1942 flew B-17F "Miss Carriage" 41-24428 and B-17E "Tugboat Annie" 41-2599.

During September 1942, flew B-17E 41-2663 until lost on September 12 on a bombing mission over Buna.

Afterwards, he earned the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), the citation reads:
"For meritorious achievements while participating in aerial flight over enemy territory on September 12, 1942. Captain Erb was pilot of a B-17 type airplane, which bombed enemy installations in the Buna area. During this attack, one hostile anti-aircraft battery was silenced and 17 enemy airplanes and other installations destroyed. While over the target, the airplane sustained a direct anti-aircraft hit in the fuselage, causing fire and explosion of a gasoline tank. Although shrapnel also destroyed the rudder cables, Captain Erb was able to make an emergency landing in rough sea. Captain Erb then led three of his crew, including one who was badly wounded, 125 miles through swamp and jungle to a friendly base. The actions of Captain Erb during the mission reflects the highest credit on the military forces of the United States."

Click For EnlargementStateside Service
Returned to the United States and served at Pyote Airfield with the 333rd Bombardment Group, 467th Bombardment Squadron. Next to Dalhaar Airfield with HQ and finally, Fort Leavenworth to Command and General Staff School from September to November 1943. During 1944, to AAFSOC in Washington DC and Command and General Staff School until June 1, 1945 when he returned to Washington DC.

Relatives
Jeff Erb (son)

References
Fortress Against the Sun pages 245-246
Thanks to Jeff Erb (son) and Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
July 23, 2017

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