A Second War American Ploesti Oil Fields KIA Group $5,500
WWII Technical Sergeant Elijah D. Johnson USAAF, KIA on The Liberator Raid on the Ploesti Oil Fields, Romania, 1943 - Distinguished Flying Cross (bronze gilt, engraved "T. SGT. ELIJAH D. JOHNSON A.C." on the reverse, 43.3 mm, original ribbon with brooch pinback); Purple Heart (bronze gilt and enamels, engraved "ELIJAH D. JOHNSON" on the reverse, 34.7 mm x 43 mm, original ribbon with brooch pinback); and Air Medal (bronze gilt, engraved "T. SGT. ELIJAH D. JOHNSON A.C." on the reverse, 42 mm, two oak leaf clusters on the original ribbon with brooch pinback, accompanied by a 3.7 mm x 17.2 mm enamelled Ribbon Bar with button hole attachment). Extensive gilt wear evident on the DFC, light contact, better than very fine. All three medals come in their original hardshelled cases of issue, the cases having experienced extensive wear from storage, the DFC case with part of its wooden framework having separated from body but remain with the case, fine. Accompanied by an Army Air Force Aircrew Badge (bronze gilt, unmarked and likely "field-made", 18 mm x 75 mm, horizontal pinback), a Disposition of World War II Armed Forces Dead Booklet (twenty-four pages plus cover, printed in black ink, 85 mm x 142 mm, with Change of Address Card), various Letters of Correspondence between Johnson's Parents and Assorted Branches of the Military (including: the War Department in Washington, D.C.; the Headquarters Second Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colorado; the Office of Special Settlement Accounts in New York, New York; the Kansas City Quartermaster Depot in Kansas City, Missouri; the War Department Office of Dependency Benefits in Newark, New Jersey, the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C.), a Guardian Life Insurance Company of Texas Insurance Policy ($1,000 on the life of Elijah D. Johnson, with his father, Walter L. Johnson, named as the beneficiary, dated June 1, 1942 at Dallas, two double-sided pages joined at the head, printed in black, blue and red inks, gold embossed seal, 228 mm x 305 mm), a Letter from the Guardian Life Insurance Company of Texas (dated August 24, 1944, notifying Johnson's father that the policy had lapsed and that no payout was to be issued), seven Letters with Transmission Envelopes Forwarded Through the War & Navy Departments V-Mail Service (various dates in 1943), nineteen Envelopes with most containing Letters from Johnson and Addressed to his Mother (some with "Passed by Army Examiner" stamps), six Letters from Johnson to his Mother (dated 1942-1943), one Letter from Johnson to his Sister (dated July 16, 1943), a Photograph of Johnson in Uniform (black and white, matte finish, addressed postcard backer identifying him, 81 mm x 135 mm), a Group Photograph (black and white, gloss finish, taken at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, 205 mm x 252 mm), a Photograph of a Soldier (black and white, gloss finish, inscribed "Elijah's Friend" on the reverse, 76 mm x 103 mm), a Photograph taken at Sea (black and white, gloss finish, 78 mm x 84 mm), a Photograph of a Mountain Scene (black and white, matte finish, 61 mm x 85 mm), two Group Photographs taken in Front of the B-24 Liberator "Aire Lobo" in the Libyan Theater (black and white, gloss finish, one of the entire flight crew of ten, the photo marked "A M Crown Copyright Reserved" on the reverse, the other with six members of the crew with their identification in pencil on the reverse, 105 mm x 128 mm each), three Photographs taken at Johnson's Grave Site in Dry Fork, Virginia (two black and white, one color, gloss finish, 77 mm x 78 mm, 88 mm x 90 mm and 60 mm x 84 mm, respectively), three Addressed Postcards, three Newspaper Articles (one of which includes a photograph of Johnson's parents receiving his Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters from Major Frank Sloan), a copy of the War Department Missing Air Crew Report (dated August 3, 1943) and assorted research papers. Footnote: 13035637 Technical Sergeant Elijah David Johnson was born in 1921 in Virginia, the son of Walter Lee Johnson and Mary Carter Johnson of Dry Fork, Virginia. He completed four years of high school and was single, when he enlisted with the Army Air Force as a Private, on January 16, 1942 in Richmond, Virginia (Enlistment for the duration of the war or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law). He was posted to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, with Basic Training Group 3730, Squadron 3731. In 1943, now a Technical Sergeant, he was sent to the Mediterranean theater, where his key responsibility was the tripping of bombs while in the belly of a B-24 Liberator aircraft. Johnson was with 9th Bomber Command, 98th Bomber Group, 345th Squadron, aboard the "Aire Lobo" (serial number 44-40312) and stationed at Benina, in northwestern Libya. The crew of ten adopted two characters to place on the fuselage of the B-24 Liberator: the Walt Disney character José Carioca (parrot) and a caricature of Dorothy Lamour in a bikini. The crew of ten was selected to participate in Operation Tidal Wave, an air attack by bombers of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) based in Libya, on nine oil refineries around Ploesti (AKA Ploiesti), Romania on August 1, 1943. The attack is also known as the Raid on the Ploesti Oil Fields. It was a strategic bombing mission and part of the "oil" campaign, to deny petroleum-based fuel to the Axis and was the longest bombing mission ever undertaken byAmerican airmen. On the day of the mission, the weather and visibility was good. Flying from Libya, the armada made their way to Romania. Johnson's aircraft was singled out for low level work. At 3:12 PM, the "plane came in on the target run straight as an arrow, oblivious to the flying fragments from anti-aircraft shells. The bombs were seen to strike home by the pilots of other planes but before the Liberator could gain altitude, it sloughed off, lost altitude and disappeared in the haze of smoke which covered the area," with the plane crashing to the ground. The aircraft was one of those disabled by the fierce ground defense which cost the United States Army Air Force many of its elements of assault. Johnson, along with his entire crew of ten, were lost near the target at Ploesti and declared Missing in Action initially, and it was not known whether he or any others had bailed out. After one year, nine members of the crew were declared Killed in Action, counted among the casualties of the raid, while the tenth member was declared a Prisoner of War that had later died of his injuries. Along with 13035637 Technical Sergeant (Engineer) Elijah David Johnson, also lost were 0-659415 First Lieutenant (Pilot) John Blakeslee Thomas, 0-736539 Second Lieutenant (Co-Pilot) David Murrel Lewis, 0-732643 Second Lieutenant (Bombardier) George McCandless, 39313315 Staff Sergeant (Assistant Engineer) George Edward Davies, 35107007 Technical Sergeant (Radio) Ernest Eugene Gough, 16092647 Staff Sergeant (Assistant Radio) William Arthur Kneial, 11016927 Staff Sergeant (Gunner) Richard Gerald Salsbury and 34352519 Staff Sergeant (Armored Gunner) Eldon Legrant. The lone survivor of the crash was 0-667418 Second Lieutenant (Navigator) Robert Dana Nash but he died soon after in a Romanian hospital. The attack was to leave the valuable oil production center, which supplied fuel to the Axis planes, blazing and wrecked. However, the mission resulted in "no curtailment of overall product output" and therefore, was deemed unsuccessful. The mission was one of the costliest for the United States Army Air Forces in the European Theater, with 53 aircraft and 600 aircrewmen lost. It was the worst loss ever suffered by the USAAF on a single mission, with the date of August 1, 1943 later referred to as "Black Sunday". Five Medals of Honor and numerous Distinguished Service Crosses were awarded to Operation Tidal Wave crew members. Johnson's grave site was designated at Dry Fork Pentecostal Holiness Church in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Major Frank S. Sloan of the Virginia Induction Station arranged to bestow honors upon the missing man through his mother, Mary Johnson. She said she would prefer the gratitude of the government to be exemplified in the church where her boy was raised, on the Sunday before Christmas, which was to have military officers present. The medal evidences of heroic action was bestowed by Colonel Leland Skaggs, Recruiting and Induction Officer for the State of Virginia. For the attack on the Ploesti Oil Fields, the War Department announced on November 16, 1943, that Technical Sergeant Johnson had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. His personal effects were returned to his mother from the Kansas City Quartermaster Depot in Kansas City, Missouri, via parcel post. After one year, Johnson was declared Killed in Action as of August 2, 1944. A life insurance policy had been taken out by Johnson with the Guardian Life Insurance Company of Texas, in the amount of $1,000, on June 1, 1942. After his death, his father, Walter, wrote to the company enquiring about payout on the policy. In the letter, his father stated that Johnson was presumed to be dead as of August 2, 1944, as per notification from the War Department. The company responded in a letter, dated August 24, 1944. It was discovered that "Private Johnson discontinued his Class E Allotment for payment of his monthly premium as of November 30, 1942. The policy lapsed and terminated in accordance with its provisions for nonpayment of the premium that was due January 1, 1943." Therefore, no payout was issued to his stated beneficiary, his father. In a letter addressed to his mother, Mary, from Veterans Administration in October 1944, it was acknowledged that she was the beneficiary of insurance in the amount of $3,000 from the the National Service Life Insurance and that she was entitled to monthly payments of $14.94 beginning August 1, 1943 and to continue for the rest of her life.