B-17F/G BALL TURRET GUNNER
410th Bomber Squadron /94th Bombardment Group
Leon Moutsos pose happily, maybe because he returned safely for one more time. Leon was a waist gunner, firing his guns from the side of his bomber, repelling enemy attacks. The waist guns on the earliest B-17Gs were fired through completely open windows, as on the B-17F. In order to reduce the cold and discomfort felt by the gunners, closed Plexiglas windows were added. Initially, this was a framed three-piece unit as seen here but, later, an improved single-piece clear-vision item was introduced, with the gun mounted on the lower sill rather than on a swivel post. It was not until Boeing and Vega -50, and Douglas -25, series aircraft that the problem of gunners obstructing each other in combat was solved by the introduction of staggered waist gun positions. Due to the infrequency of beam attacks in actual combat and the limited field of fire of the guns, the waist position was one of the least effective defensive stations, and also statistically one of the most dangerous due to its exposed nature. ((Dimitris Emanuel Volakis & Paul Eden)
Roy Crosland crew in front of their bomber, for the official crew photo. Standing Left-Right: Sgt Leon E. Moutsos (gunner), Sgt John B. Isaacs (radio operator), Sgt J. G. Reif (engineer/top turret gunner), Sgt Robert Thornbro (gunner), Sgt Leo Bombalicki (gunner), and Sgt Richard Wien (gunner). Kneeling Left to Right: 1/Lt Roy T. Crosland (pilot), 1/Lt Archie A. Parks (navigator), 2/Lt Dale T. Sarrett (bombardier), 2/Lt Harry W. Clement (co-pilot). These ten men were more than just the "crew of an airplane"--they were a team. "One word explains how we got through the hell over Europe 25 times--and back home without a casualty," stated Bob Morgan who piloted the famed Memphis Belle. (Dimitris Emanuel Volakis)
Leon Moutsos was the son of the Greek immigrant couple, Emanuel (Volakis) Moutsos and Jasmine Moutsos. Emanuel gave the nickname of Moutsos when he came through Ellis Island (as he did not speak English). Later his real last name was appended as a middle name. He immigrated from Samos in 1908. He came over in 1908 via Ellis Island, worked on the railroads in Tennessee, worked his way over to Chicago. Entered the draft at 18 years of age and was gassed fighting the Germans in WW I, was given an honorable discharge and awarded the Purple Heart. He remained a barber for the rest of his life and retired in Colorado. Leon was born in Colorado, fought in WW II and during the Korean War, was debriefing Greek Generals as he spoke fluent Greek and English. They flew him to Cyprus during the Korean War as a translator (he had a top secret security clearance). He was also involved in aerial photography and continued his photography pursuits (as a hobby) after the war. It appears that Leon completed 30 combat missions flying as a gunner with the B-24 Liberators of the 707th bomb squadron, 446th Bomb Group which completed a total of 273 missions, 7259 sorties, and lost 58 aircraft, suffered 450+ KIA and 51 MIA. They claimed 34 enemy aircraft confirmed destroyed with an additional 11 probably destroyed. The 446th Bomb Group, who came to be known as "the Bungay Buckaroos" after the name of their Suffolk base, flew B-24 Liberators on strategic, support and interdictory missions over Europe. The Group led the Eighth Air Force and 2nd Bomb Division on the first heavy bomber mission on D-Day, 6 June 1944, and continued to support the ground forces move eastwards, dropping airborne troops into Wesel, north-west Germany, as part of the advance across the River Rhine. His son Demetrios heard a story from his mother which cannot be confirmed according to which his father and the pilot (Roy Crosland) returned after a bombing raid where the remainder of the crew had been killed in action. In another incident, he describes that his oxygen mask froze up and he passed out only to be revived by another crew member who just happened to check on him. Had the other fella not checked up on him, he would have asphyxiated. Close call!! Leon Moutsos awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal....and the three Bronze Oak Clusters, and 5 citations for Valor in battle, as well as the European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal with 4 battle stars along with a Good Conduct Medal. During the Korean War, he was recalled into service as a Technical Training Instructor in photo intelligence and camera repair and armament. His son didn't trace an official documentation regarding his debriefing assignments as a translator for Greek Generals stationed at Cyprus....but he did tell him all of that was Top Secret and he was required to pass additional security clearances to discuss the following: aerial and ground photography, aerial and ground camera repair, aerial photo intelligence, aircraft bomb-sight & armament systems, logistics, biological warfare, psychological warfare, & chemical warfare. It appears he served a total of 9 years and 4 months in the military. After his military career (9+ years) he began working with computers at United Airlines where he worked for over 25 years. He then retired from UA and worked for BofA for another 25 years as a senior programming consultant where he helped develop the ATM system. He lived to be 92 years old and passed away peacefully at his home in Napa CA in 2014.
JAMES EMANUEL VOLAKIS TESTIMONY
My Father and I had a tumultuous relationship....alternating between very close....and quite distant. In his later years, we were estranged for some time. When he passed away I buried him at sea (from my Kayak) in the Pacific Ocean ( a wish he had conveyed to me decades before as he loved the ocean and sailing and always desired to be buried at sea). He was a proud man and was not quick to forgive or forget. He was especially stubborn when it came to our relationship. But after researching his accomplishments and seeing what he went through, I have deeper insight and compassion for him. I honored him the best I could when he passed....and will continue to do so.