Joseph George Siegler
(June 28, 1918 – July 25, 1994)

by Brooke Styles

Joesph Siegler
Place of Birth: Dumont, New Jersey
Place of Death: Palmdale, California
Basics of Military Service

Joe Siegler entered the Army in 1942 when the US entered the war.  He was based in Texas and was assigned to field artillery.  When the bombing campaign started over Germany, Joe signed up so he would end up in infantry.  He was shipped to Great Britain and was assigned to an 8th Air Force wing of B-17s and was based close to London.  Joe flew 29 missions over Germany and his crew did not loose one person.  Very few crews could claim this.  Joe left the service in 1945 after the end of the war in Europe.  He returned to his wife in New Jersey and then moved to Northridge, California to raise a family.
Role in World War II

Joe was a gunner in his B-17.  He stood in the back part of the plane and next to another gunner.  They protected the plane from being attacked for the side by German fighters.
Waist Gunner

This is a waist gunner.

Gunner wings

This is the pin of the radio gunners.
Gunner Wings

Joe’s accounts of the missions where very dramatic.  The worst missions were those when his plane flew in the lead of his group.  This meant they were the first to be shot at as they were the first over the target.  Joe typed a summary of each mission he flew.  A lot of what he describes has to do with engine problems, equipment malfunctions, getting knocked around by turbulence caused by other bombers, and really cold weather at 10,000 feet.  On one mission, his plane had to return because of engine trouble.  The plane that took their place in the formation collided with another bomber and crashed.  On another flight, flak ripped through the plane and almost killed him.  On many raids, he watched as other bombers were shot down.  Joe always watched to see how many of the crew bailed out.

The Plane

Joe Siegler flew a Boeing B-17 bomber. The 70-foot, four-engine heavy bomber was built to fly long distances at high altitude.  It could drop a three-ton load of bombs and was well armed.  Each plane had more than a dozen 50-caliber machine guns.
  Each B-17 was crewed by a team of ten men.  On Joe’s plane, the pilot, co-pilot, navigator, and bombardier were all lieutenants.  These were Robert Nicholson from Belmont, New York, Edward Jena from Tangent, Oregon, Harold Russell from Portland Oregon, and Richard Johnson from Langley, Washington.  On the top of the Flying Fortress and directly behind the pilot in a rotating bubble were mounted twin guns in the top turret.  The aircraft engineer, staff sergeant Lawrence Branstetter from Billings, Montana, manned this position.  Further back in the fuselage was the radio operator, George Guidi from Springfield, Massachusetts.  When the bomber was under attack, George manned his own gun from the radio room hatch.  Behind the radio room and beneath the fuselage hung the clear sphere of the ball turret gunner.  This was staff sergeant Charles Cooper from Batesville, Arkansas.  Above the ball turret the two waist gunners manned their own guns, defending against attack from the left or right.  One was Joe Siegler and I could not find the name of the other waist gunner.  Further back in the tiny crawl space beneath the vertical stabilizer, the tail gunner, staff sergeant William Cavander was located. Inside of Plane

This is the inside of a B-17, and the positions of the fighters.


This is a Target where my Great Grandpa hit.

World War 2 collage
Anderson, Brooke P. “B-17G and B-24J pictorial.” “Index of wings part 2.” 14 Dec. 2005.  29 Jan. 2008 <‌wings/‌part2/>.
Nored, Ed. Hell’s Angels. 31 Jan. 1998.  29 Jan. 2008 <‌uniforms-gear3.html>. Path:
Siegler, Diane Lynn, and Joel Siegler. Telephone,E-mail,instant messanger interview. 5 Jan. 2008.
“Welcome to Marcus Garvey Library.”  5 Jan. 2008 <‌alliedbombing.htm>.
A Target

Hamburg Germany after it was completely destroyed by American and British bombers:
Joe’s plane bombed Hamburg on December 31, 1944 (New Year’s Eve) and again on January 17, 1945.  On both occasions, they had heavy flak and Joe saw other bombers go down in flames.  By that time in the war, most of the German fighters had been shot down so there was not anything to shoot at.  Earlier in the war, fighters attacked bombers all the time and Joe had plenty to do.