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Military History/B-17 Flight Engineer in UK


QUESTION: Young lad working in a store that I met yesterday,  knows nothing about his grandfather. I offered to help. His Grandfather was named Oscar Kocher. He flew 25 missions in a B-17.

This is what I have found out so far:

Can you figure out what plane(s) he was in, locate a picture(s) of that plane(s), and perhaps, even a crew picture(s), missions flow, plus anything else his grandson might be best pleased to learn about him? I don't suppose some enterprising person has created a dedicated website by Bombardment Groups with stories, pictures, etc, such as the one for B-24s ?
Thank you for your help in this matter.

ANSWER: It would help for him to get his grandfather's service records. They are available to next of kin from the National Archives in St. Louis. He can find out how to go about that at

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QUESTION: I will ask, but I am not sure if this information is available to him; I noticed his Mother left IL a long time ago. As I do not know him personally, I have to wait until he shows up at his job, which is where I met him, so I can ask him. I did go thorough every single entry for and there are only two that look like his Grandfather. (I used this service photo of him: ) As we know Oscar L. Kocher was both an Flight Engineer and Top Turret Gunner, and he served his full term of 25 bombing flights before he opted to return home; to me, it looks like he might be part of either Crew 3276 324th Sqd. "Fly me to the Moon" or A-62737AC Ack Ack Annie, maybe you can figure this out by seeing if ether of these crews miraculously happens to have flown only 25 missions. I was unable to locate his name anywhere in the entire database, so perhaps the reason so many of the names are missing from the files towards the end, is somehow related to these being earlier flights, and perhaps a change in methodology was initiated to better capture the crew names, etc. ... Do you have access to a cross reference? As I recall, his grandson mentioned he had been called up for service, rather than volunteer. Are there different lists, that might explain why he is not listed anywhere? The only other thing I thought of that adds weight to his being called up early is, as you may notice in his service photo, he has a smaller circular medallion on the front of his hat, than most of the others do in their photographs online. Could this be a clue to help you? And last, he has two military jobs, both Flight Engineer and Top Turret Gunner are listed in his obituary, so again, this suggests that it may have been decided later on, that the majority would fare better concentrating just on one job, instead of two. So, I look forward to what you may be able to glean from all this to help.Thank you for your perseverance. Katherine

As far as being drafted versus joining, the military kept the same records on both categories. The only difference would be in the service numbers.

Sorry, but I don't recognize the medallion on his cap.

I'm certain a lot of this would be cleared up if he got his grandfather's military records. That would still be my recommendation.  

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Marc Leepson


I can answer most questions dealing with all aspects of U.S. military history. My expertise is the Vietnam War. I also have written extensively about the U.S. Civil War, World War II, World War I, The Philippine War, and the American Revolution. My books include a concise biography of the Marquis de Lafayette, the history of the American Flag, and the post-Jefferson history of Monticello, and therefore know a great deal about those specific subjects. I specialize in writing about matters of strategy--not tactics. And I also am interested in personalities. I have very little knowledge about ordnance or the value of old military memorabilia. Nor do I know a lot about uniforms and insignia--except about the Vietnam War. To repeat: I have no expertise in assessing the value of ordnance or uniforms or any type of military equipment. And my knowledge about military uniforms is only limited to those of the Vietnam War era. If you have questions on these topics, I recommend contacting an antiques dealer in your area who specializes in military uniforms, ordnance, etc.


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