2nd Lt. John Albert Friese
Bombardier, Hautman Crew
Did not participate in the Kassel mission
John Albert Friese was born to Emil Albert Friese and Laura Ovidia Odegaard. The oldest member of the crew, he was born on September 8, 1916 in Fargo, Cass Co., North Dakota. He, three of his four brothers, and one brother-in-law were all in the service at the same time. John also had one sister. He was a member of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, North Dakota Agricultural College, Fargo, North Dakota and was to be a 2nd Lt. in the 69th Infantry Regiment upon graduation. However, the 1940 census shows that he completed four years of college (Civil Engineering) and that his address at the time was ‘US Naval Air Station Cadet Quarters’. John had received an appointment for the Naval Academy but later left the service to work as a civil engineer for Babcock & Wilcox Co in Barberton, Ohio. He then enlisted in the Army Air Corps on August 29, 1942, became an aviation navigator and was certified as a bombardier (2nd Lt.) on January 15, 1944 at the bombardier school at Midland, Texas.
Lt. Friese was not assigned to fly the mission and did not fly again until October 3, 1944. By January 17, 1945 he had completed his thirtieth mission* and on February 5 was heading back to the United States where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for participation as the lead navigator on a bombing mission into Germany. He appears to have married within about a month after his return to the United States. Then, after a 21-day leave, he reported for duty with the 2nd Air Force.
From Sally Friese Hoffman on her father: “My dad was assigned to San Angelo (Project Lincoln) and Alamogordo (Stripped Eagle Crew) and at Davis-Monthan Field in Arizona (Very Heavy Bomb crews). Both involved secret new types of radar used on B-29s. However, to use this radar, the planes were stripped of most defensive guns to lighten them in order to carry heavier bombs longer distances.”
John was released from active duty on October 12, 1945 and married Dorothy Margaret Huset on February 8, 1946, in St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minnesota, but only after he finished the paperwork for his college degree. He and Dorothy had three daughters. He resumed working for Babcock & Wilcox, a company producing steam generators. His growing family moved frequently, but settled in Wadsworth, Ohio in 1955. He continued to work at B & W in nearby Barberton until his retirement in 1981.
John Friese was a champion golfer and bowler. He died on April 14, 1985 in an Akron hospital, Summit County, Ohio, and was buried in Grue Lutheran Cemetery, Buxton, Trail County, North Dakota. The church had been founded by his Norwegian great-grandfather, Johannes Odegard.
His widow, Dorothy, married Wesley Perry Lee after John’s death and died in 2012. John’s paternal grandparents were both born in Schwerin, Germany. By a twist of fate, that city was the object of his combat mission on August 4, 1944.