Birthday: November 01, 1923
Birthplace: Greenwood, Wisconsin
Family: Loretta and Homer Potter
Branch: Army Air Force
Unit: 15th Army Air Force
Post: 450th Bombardment Group, 723
Raymond Potter entered the Army on January 13, 1943. He was twenty years old and single.
At this time in Europe the Allied troops had landed in Casablanca and were fighting to secure access into Sicily and Italy by gaining control of North Africa. In preparation for the next phase of war against Hitler, the 450th Bomb Group was activated on May 1, 1943. Their mission was to weaken the Nazi war effort by taking out enemy communications, oil supplies, transportation and industrial sites. Raymond Potter was assigned to the 450th "Cottontails" Bombardment Group and began training in Boise, Idaho.
After training Mr. Potter was attached to a ten man crew of a B-24 as the left wing gunner. His crew traveled to Brazil, on to Maraketch and Tunis, and finally to Manduria, Italy.
The B-24's had been flying missions out of Manduria to Romania beginning in April 1944. One of the main objectives were to disable the Ploesti and surrounding oil refineries which provided the Nazis with one third of their fuel. Raymond Potter's first four missions were bombing raids on refineries in Vienna and Ploesti, Romania. Thirty-eight B-24's dropped 156 tons of bombs on these two targets during the raids.
Enemy fighters were fierce and the enemy flak was heavy. The refineries were the third strongest defended sites within Nazi held territory. Five B-24's were shot down by enemy fire. Twenty-six aircraft were holed by flak. Eight crew members among the thirty-eight B-24's were injured. In spite of the risk, Raymond Potter and his crew continued to play a vital role in the campaign to cut off Hitler's fuel supplies.
In August of 1944 General Twining called for an around the clock barrage against Ploesti in an effort to knock it out for good. Mr. Potter's crew flew on August 17th, the first day of this three day campaign. Thirty of the B-24's were shot down, twenty-three of them due to heavy flak. This, in spite of the now thirty Mustang fighter planes that flew as escorts for the large bombers. 45,000 rounds of flak were fired at our planes during the smoky three day siege.
Ploesti oil production was permanently shut down. After this Raymond flew five more missions ending September 4th, 1944 with a run Trento, Italy. As part of the 450th Bomb Group Mr. Potter received the Flying Medal award having flown 31 missions into heavily defended enemy territory. He was discharged on October 11, 1945.
under Learn and Serve American Grant #00LSFWI104