Paul S. Biggart, World War II CasualtyPorter County Data on World War II Casualties . . . .

Paul Stephen Biggart
Staff Sergeant, 716th Bomber Squadron, 449th Bomber, US Army Air Force
Date of Death: February 25, 1944
Cause of Death: Missing in Action
Date of Enlistment: October 15, 1942
Monument: Sicily and Rome, Italy
Awards: Purple Heart, Air Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross
Hometown: Valparaiso

Newspaper Notices:

One Dies, And One Lives Is War's News

Both bad and good news were received by two Valparaiso families from the European war theater on Monday, it became known today.

The ill tiding came to Mrs. Doris A. Stewart, living with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Lutz at 482 Park avenue.

It was to the effect that her husband, 2nd Lieutenant Edwin Dick Stewart, had been killed in action during an air raid on Feb. 10 over Germany.

The good tiding came to the Charles E. Thorgren family, 506 Oak street, from their son, Staff Sergt. Ernest R. Thorgren, in the shape of a postal card from a German prison camp. He had been reported missing following a bomber raid over Germany on Jan. 5.

Word of the death of Lieut. Stewart was received by his wife from her father-in-law, Ohmer L. Stewart, of 6 Falls street, Williamsport, Ind. The latter had been informed of his son's death through International Red Cross.

Lieut. Stewart was a bombardier on an English AAF Flying Fortress, and had been awarded an Air Medal and Oak Leaf Cluster for "courage, coolness and skill" displayed while participating in an additional five combat bomber operations over Europe.

Before entering the AAF on April 4, 1941, he was deputy clerk in the Warren county circuit court at Williamsport. He was commissioned May 13, 1943. He attended Indiana university.

Sergt. Thorgren's card to his parents was mailed from Germany on Jan. 12, 1944, just one week after he was reported missing in action in Germany. HE was a chief armor waist gunner and photographer on a Flying Fortress. It read as follows:

"Hello folks. Just want you to know I am well. Being treated O. K. Shall write more when I get to my permanent camp. Give my best regards to entire family and friends. Keep well and happy and not worry. Love, Ernie."

Mr. and Mrs. Steven D. Biggart, 112 Brown, parents of Staff Sergt. Paul Biggart, reported missing in bombing missions over Italy, received a letter Monday from the War Department telling them to have hope until further word can be received, as there is a possibility he may be a prisoner of war.
Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; February 28, 1944; Volume 17, Page 1, Column 4

Sgt. Biggart Missing In Europe Action

Staff Sgt. Paul Biggart, son of Mr. and Mrs. Steve Biggart of 112 Brown avenue, who has participated in a number of bombing missions over Italy, has been reported as "missing in action."

His parents received the war department's telegram yesterday.

In Italy since the middle of December, Sgt. Biggart who was an aerial waist gunner on a B-24 Liberator, has been in action a number of times over the German lines in Northern Italy.

Once he wrote back to his parents that he was grounded because of a frost bitten face. Bad weather also kept his ship and crew inactive for several weeks.

Sgt. Biggart entered the service on Oct. 15, 1942. He took armament training at Lowrey Field, Denver, Colo., and his gunnery training was taken at Tucson, Arizona, Alamogordo, N. M., and Bruning, Neb.
Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; March 21, 1944; Volume 17, Page 1, Column 4

Sgt. Paul Biggart Bags 4 Nazi Planes Before He Dies On Heroic Flight

WASHINGTON, May 4. -- (UP) -- Her guns knocked out one by one and two of her four motors disabled, the Liberator bomber "Pistol Packin' Mama" didn't lay that pistol down until she had written across the German skies a flaming valedictory which the war department hailed as a record aerial feat of war -- the destruction of 15 enemy planes in a single combat.

The saga of the battered bomber and her gallant crew of 10 was disclosed with announcement that the Distinguished Flying Cross has been awarded to each of her crew -- one posthumously to Staff Sgt. Paul S. Biggart of Valparaiso, Ind., who shot down four German planes before an enemy shell killed him.

As befits her name Pistol Packin' Mama went down fighting. And only after she had fought off every enemy plane in sight and carried her crew back over friendly territory.

The Mediterranean-based bomber went out last Feb. 25 in a bombing mission against Regensburg, Germany. Set upon by swarms of enemy fighters and hit by rockets and cannon-firing fighters, she nonetheless flew on to the assigned target -- an aircraft factory.

Her bombardier loosed explosives that destroyed enemy planes in the making. Then, escorted by another Liberator that shot down three more tormentors, "Pistol Packin' Mama" headed for home, but just couldn't make it and her crew were forced to bail out.

This is her honor roll crew:

Pilot -- 2d Lt. Gilbert F. Bradley, Superior, Ariz.
Co-Pilot -- 2d Lt. Anson F. Hughes, Sac City, Iowa.
Navigator -- 2d Lt. Jospeh P. McMeniemen, Cambridge, Mass.
Gunner -- S/Sgt. Paul S. Biggart.
Nose Turret Gunner -- S/Sgt. Herman R. Clements, Sister Lakes, Mich.
Tail Turret Gunner -- S/Sgt. Irving J. Mills, Fall River, Mass.
Waist Gunner -- S/Sgt. Ronald J. Prescher, Route 1, Delavan, Mich.
Bombardier -- 1st Lt. Kenneth E. Ebersole, Duncansville, Pa.
Top Turret Gunner -- T/Sgt. Joseph W. Montagna, Metuchan, N. J.
Ball Turret Gunner -- S/Sgt. Franklin A. Grubaugh, Ida, Ohio.

And this is what "Pistol Packin' Mama", and her boys went through on that fateful day.

Approaching the target, the bomber was set upon by rocket planes and cannon-fireing fighters. Below, German anti-aircraft batteries sent up a terrifying curtain of flame and steel.

No. 2 engine was disabled, he bomber lost speed and enemy fighters were closing in on the straggler for a kill. But "Pistol Packin' Mama" blazed away with all she had.

Biggart methodically picked off three Junkers 88's and a Messerschmitt 210 as the bomber started her run over the target. A German shell pierced Biggart's compartment and he was killed.

In a matter of seconds, another shell exploded inside the plane under Clements' seat. It knocked out Clements' guns and the turret operating system. Then Prescher was hit. (He has since returned to duty.)

All the while, Mills fought off a score of enemy planes. He was holding his own until another shell disabled the tail turret hydraulic system. A machine gun bullet pierced Mill's coverails and struck the door. Undaunted, Mills then took over Prescher's post as right waist gunner.

After dropping his bombs, Ebersole manned Biggart's guns.

Montagna leaned from his top turret to check his ammunition. At that moment an enemy shell tore away half the turret dome -- where Montagna's head had been an instant before.

Another shell struck the ball turret elevation gear. It did not explode, but it disabled the automatic mechanism in the turret -- the last one in action -- and Grubaugh kept firing away by operating the turret manually.

A Liberator, piloted by 1st Lt. Edward V. Drinan, South Braintree, Mass. had completed its run. But, observing that "Pistol Packin' Mama" was having trouble, Drinan dropped back to offer what protection he could.

The two bombers fought side-by-side for more than an hour, with enemy planes swooping down like blizzards for the kill -- but failing.

Then, the heroic bomber's No. 1 engine gave out. Limping along on only two engines, "Pistol Packin' Mama" lost altitude rapidly. By now she was over friendly territory.

There her crew bailed out.

Moments later, "Pistol Packin' Mama" died like the great lady she was.

Sgt. Biggart was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen D. Biggart, of 112 Brown avenue, and had been with the U. S. Army Air Corps since his enlistment in October, 1942. His parents received official notification of his death on Saturday, April 22.
Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; May 4, 1944; Volume 17, Page 1, Columns 1 and 2 and Page 6, Column 5


A Valparaiso hero, Staff Sergt. Paul Biggart, son of Mr. and Mrs. Steve Biggart, of Valparaiso, killed on February 25 last in a dog-fight with German planes over reich territory, is featured in a new magazine, the American Air Forces, published by the Flying Cadet Publishing company, New York City.

The magazine, depicting the deeds of American airmen with illustrations of the cartoon type, gives a vivid story of the doings of "Pistol Packing Mama," a U. S. Liberator which played an historical role until it was shot down. Six photographs embellish the story which follows:

"Picking on us 'cause we're a lame duck, hey? We'll see," S-Sergt. Paul Biggart said. From a com man came the words, "Nice shootin' Paul."

"As the crippled ship left the target area, and her B-24 (piloted by Lieut. Edward C. Drinan) dropped back to help/ For over an hour, the bombers fought, side by side, with Pistol Packin' Mama bearing the brunt of the nazi attack.

"There goes No. 2 engine. Now we straggle . . . ., said one of the crew members.

S-Sergt. Paul Biggart alone shot down four nazis before a German shell killed him. But enemy planes kept coming. Yet Pistol Packin' Mama flew on, made her bombing run and hit the target.

"Bombs away! I'm going back to take over Paul's guns," one of Paul's companions said. "Okay Ken," came the reply.

"Over friendly territory at last, Pilot Gilbert F. Bradley gave orders to abandon plane. Pistol Packin' Mama was done, but her fighting team (each of whom received the Distinguished Flying Cross) had destroyed enemy planes -- a record for one engagement."
Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; September 27, 1944; Volume 18, Page 1, Columns 4 and 5

Return to List of Porter County World War II Casualties

Information abstracted and transcribed by Steven R. Shook


CSS Template by Rambling Soul