Eshleman, Oscar F

Oscar F. Eshleman was born in 1917 and was raised in Caln Township, Pennsylvania. Oscar was the youngest of four children. He married Alice Lorena Skillman from Wilmington Delaware in 1942. They lived in Coatesville.

Oscar enlisted in the Army Air Corps on February 3, 1943. He received flight training as a bomber pilot, flying B-24 Liberator Heavy Bombers. He was assigned to the 836th Bomber Squadron, 487th Bomber Group Heavy. Oscar’s bomb group trained in Nebraska, New Mexico, and Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

The 487th shipped out to the European Theater of Operations in April,1944. They were stationed at Levenham, Suffolk, UK as part of the Eighth Air Force.
Eshleman
Oscar’s crew flew their first combat mission on May 7, 1944 against the railroad marshalling yards in Liege, Belgium, preparing for the upcoming D-Day landings in Normandy. Lee C. Hauenstein, the historian for the 487th bomb group website is quoted below:

The unit's first commander was Lieutenant Colonel Beirne Lay, Jr., a prominent Hollywood screen writer until he was shot down on 11 May 1944 in one of the group's earliest actions. He was shot down over enemy territory but evaded capture and was returned to duty. After the war, he wrote the screenplay for the 1949 film, Twelve O'Clock High. 

In July, 1944, the 487th transitioned to B-17G Flying Fortresses. During the Battle of the Bulge, most aircraft were grounded due to severe weather. When the weather cleared, the Eighth Air Force staged massive bombing missions in support of our beleaguered troops. On December 24th over 2,034 heavy bombers struck missions in support of our troops. This was the largest strike of the war.

Crew of the Weary Willy. Oscar Eshlemen, co-pilot (front row left). William Waldron, pilot (back row, 2nd from left).

WaldronCrew_Eshleman_900
Oscar was the co-pilot and William Waldron was pilot of B-17G serial number 43-38926 named Weary Willy. The 487th led the Eighth Air Force that day. Oscar’s target was an Airfield at Babenhausen, Germany, and it suffered its heaviest casualties on that day.

Second Lieutenant Oscar F. Eshleman was Killed In Action on December 24, 1944. Oscar received the Purple Heart and Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.

Credits

 
  • Research by Don Wambold, WCMSC
  • Crew Photo courtesy of William J. Waldron, Pilot