Iowa History Daily: On March 14, 1945, Sergeant 1st Class Marvin Steinford, a native of Keystone, Iowa (Benton County), was part of a 10-man crew of a B-17 bomber in the 2nd Bombing Group’s 429th squadron downed during one of the final air engagements of the Second World War.
The 15th Air Force sent 150 bombers on the run, aiming to destroy the Daimler-Benz tank plant in Berlin. The hazardous route took the crew over German defenses including 394 heavy-flak guns, numerous anti-aircraft artillery nests, and the first jet-powered fighters (German ME-262) to see action in the conflict. After the B-17s crossed the Alps in clear weather, the Nazi defenses challenged the run, ultimately damaging at least eighteen American planes. Despite the challenge, the American airmen proved successful: they left the tank plant in ruins before turning for the return run to Italy.
Steinford’s B-17 was one of the damaged bombers, and as the plane veered east over the Russian front the crew bailed out before the aircraft crashed. While parachuting through the hostile zone, the crew members received fire from both the German and Russian lines. The small arms fire killed Steinford and one other airman, while the rest of the crew was captured and placed in a Nazi POW camp for the remaining seven weeks of the war. A veteran of eight missions, the twenty-two year old Steinford left behind his bride of a year and half, as well as a baby daughter.
Nearly 65 years later, the American government positively identified Sergeant Steinford’s remains in a cemetery with Russian soldiers nearly 400 miles from the crash site in Zirc, Hungary. On June 21, 2011, Sergeant Marvin Steinford finally returned home and was laid to rest in the Cedar Memorial Cemetery with full military honors. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar #IowaHistoryDaily