Memories of Joseph Charles Crispino
1Lt Joseph Charles Crispino, O-799946
Joseph Charles was born on Feb. 23, 1920 in the tiny village of Painted
Post, NY, west of the city of Corning, the second son to Peter and Mary
Faulisi Crispino. Two sisters followed for a total of four children in
the Crispino family.
With his high school years behind him, Joseph "Joe" was tested by the
Army and was assigned to flight school. After training to fly A-20 Havoc
Aircraft, 2Lt Joseph C. Crispino joined the 670 Bomb Squadron as a pilot
on September 24, 1943.
Two months later on November 6, 1943, five pilots, one
bombardier-navigator, six gunners, one radio operator and one
mechanic from the 670 Bomb Squadron left Laurel, Mississippi as part of
a group of 18 A-20's to participate in a two-week demonstration tour.
The 670 BS participants were Capt Finley MacGillivray, Lt William Greene,
Lt Joseph Crispino, Lt John Hillerman, Lt Robert Gruetzemacher, Lt
Vernon Powell, SSgt Wilmar Kidd, SSgt Royden Conopask, SSgt
Robert Riley, SSgt William Donahue, SSgt Ralph Stobert, Sgt F. P.
Glynn, Sgt James Bodiford, and SSgt Robert J. Snyder. The tour covered
various Army camps, including Ft Benning, Ft Sill, Ft Riley and Camp Hood.
The crew of Pilot 1Lt Joseph C. Crispino, Gunner SSgt Thomas I. Walsh and Gunner SSgt Royden E.
Conopask flew a total of 17 missions together in various A-20s.
Until May 19, 1944, they had managed to avoid flak, thick black gun
powder walls around targets and Germany fighter planes. Mission #49 would
be their last as a team. It was the 18th mission for Lt. Crispino.
The bombing destination was the coastal installations at Benerville,
France. The 416th Bomb Group had sent thirty-eight bombers to destroy
the defense battery. All bombs were released with fair results. 43-9696
took her place in formation and headed back to the base through a thick
overcast. Suddenly Lt Joseph Crispino's ship went into a spin and spun
out of control. He could not save the plane and ordered his two gunners,
SSgt Thomas I. Walsh and SSgt Royden E. Conopask to bail out.
Then Lt Crispino jumped, his body was thrown against the plane's tail
assembly fracturing his leg. He parachuted to earth hoping to land on
his uninjured leg. The gunners never got out of the aircraft and were
killed when the plane crashed near Biggen Hill, England.
Lt Crispino fell into friendly hands and was taken to a local hospital.
To convalesce and allow ample time from his broken leg to heal, he was
transferred to an Evacuation Hospital.
The following was taken from the 670 Bomb Squadron record: "Sadness
descended upon the organization on May 19th, when after 369 sorties
without loss the squadron was deprived of two of its best known and best
liked members. SSgt Royden E. Cocopask, of Bristol, Connecticut and SSgt
Thomas I. Walsh of Chicago, Illinois, two veteran gunners were killed in
action returning from a raid on the Bennerville Costal Defense
Batteries. The ship, piloted by Lt. Crispino, went into a spin at 5,000
feet over Biggenhill, England. Lt. Crispino was able to bail out and
parachute to safety. He was injured in the decent and hospitalized.
However, SSgt Conopask and SSgt Walsh were unable to get out the
aircraft and met death with its crash. The loss of these two men was
keenly felt by the organization. They had been among the first gunners
assigned to the squadron after its activation."
The remains of the two gunners were interred at the Cambridge American
Military Cemetery, Cambridge.
After being hospitalized on May 19, 1944, when he bailed out of his
aircraft returning from a mission, Lt Crispino was reassigned and
welcomed back to the squadron in September 1944, after months of being
On May 25th, 1944 Lt Crispino was awarded the Purple Heart for the
injuries sustained on the 19th.
Lieutenant Crispino departed from the squadron on November 25th, 1944.
He was transferred to the 63rd Fighter Wing.
He and Mary Beth Cooper, a girl he met while training as a pilot in the
state of Oklahoma, had corresponded regularly during his tour of duty in
Europe. They were married in Oklahoma City November 29, l945.
After the service, Mr Crispino graduated from Alfred University with an
engineering degree and took employment with the Corning Company. He
retired from Corning as a Senior Sales Associate in Scientific Glassware
after 43 years of employment in 1980.
Mr Crispino passed away on August 5, 2007, leaving children Cheryl, Peter, Mary
Lynne and Anne and several grandchildren and great grandchildren. Mary
Beth, his life's co-pilot, would be forced to continue on without him.
Thank you Mr. Crispino for your love of country and your service to it.