Listen to the podcast of this article at Second Lieutenant John Clarence “Jack” Blickensderfer
John C. Blickensderfer was born on April 12, 1924 in Lebanon, MO to John and Ruth (Hufft) Blickensderfer. John C. appears to be the only child of John and Ruth.
John Clarence was named after his father, John, and his maternal grandfather, Clarence Hufft. The Huffts were early pioneers of Laclede County. 2LT Blickensderfer was of the 6th generation of Hufft descendants to live in Laclede County. His 3rd great grandfather, Benjamin F. Hufft, was born in 1796 in Virginia and had moved with his family to Tennessee in his youth. As an adult, Benjamin set out with his young family and came to Missouri sometime between 1841 and 1850. His son Lewis, 2LT Blickensderfer’s 2nd great grandfather, would volunteer with Missouri’s 16th Cavalry in 1863, enlisting as a Private. He was discharged at the close of the war with the rank of Sergeant.
After completing high school, second Lieutenant John Clarence Blickensderfer would follow in his 2nd great grandfather’s footsteps and enlist to serve his country. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on December 15, 1942 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the age of 19. He was assigned to the VIII Bomber Command, 390th Bomb Group, 570th Bomb Squad. The VIII Bomber Command would later become the 8th Air Force.
The 390th “was engaged in strategic missions until the invasion of Europe when its role became more of a tactical one. This tactical role was more attuned to the needs of ground forces. For instance, the Group bombed the coast near Caen fifteen minutes before the landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944. The Group also carried out humanitarian missions, dropping food supplies for the Dutch in the final weeks of the war. The only man to fly 100 missions, Hewitt “Buck” Dunn, did so with the 390th Bomb Group.” (390th Bomb Group)
Blickensderfer had flown four missions before the one that would be his last on July 7, 1944. He was serving as co-pilot on B-17, serial number 42-97983, on the 7th of July as it made its way, in formation, toward Merseburg, Germany, southwest of Leipzig. At about 08:00, Blickensderfer’s B-17 collided mid-air with another B-17, serial number 42-107070. The collision happened just west of Hoorn, Netherlands.
Blickensderfer’s B-17 “came down in pieces at hamlet Keern at farm ‘De Gare Goedsbogert’, address Keern no. 217[, i]n the cabbage fields between Keern and the road to Den Oever… Both bomb loads were not armed yet and all bombs went unexploded deep into the soft ground.”
According to Missing Air Crew Reports, five members of the plane’s crew perished in the crash and eight of the 107070’s crew lost their lives. Both of the surviving members of the 107070 crew were captured by the Germans. Of the five surviving members of the 97983 crew, four became prisoners of war and one, Arthur Brown, evaded capture. Brown was able to evade capture and worked with the Dutch resistance until December of 1944 when he made his way back to the Allied lines and then back to England.
Back home, 2 Lt Blickensderfer was reported as missing on July 23, 1944. The reports were printed again in September of ’44. By late October, Mr. and Mrs. Blickensderfer received the official word that their son had been killed in action.
The five members of the 97983 crew who perished near Hoorn were buried in Hoorn’s city cemetery. After the war, the remains were moved to the U.S. War Cemetery in Margraten. In 1950, as part of the U.S. Government’s Repatriation program, John C. Blickensderfer’s remains were brought home to Lebanon, Missouri and reinterred at the Lebanon City Cemetery. 2 Lt Blickensderfer is laid to rest near his parents, who passed away more than 20 years after their son.
Find a Grave memorial https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/19805955/john-clarence-blickensderfer
U.S., WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940 – 1947, Ancestry
The Laclede County Republican Lebanon, MO, July 20, 1923, p 1 col 6, newspapers.com
WWII Army Enlistment Records, fold3.com
Zuyder Zee Air War http://www.zzairwar.nl/dossiers/158.html
42-97983B-17 FLYING FORTRESS – American Air Museum in Britain
Sunday Times Democrat, Okmulgee, OK, Jul 23, 1944, p 7, newspapers.com
Springfield Leader and Press, Springfield, MO, Sep 23, 1944, p 2, newspapers.com
The Parsons Sun, Parsons, KS, Oct 20, 1944, p 6, newspapers.com
390th Bomb Group, American Air Museum in Britain, Accessed 22 Aug 2021, https://www.americanairmuseum.com/unit/336
Census records and info on ancestry
 There is some discrepancy regarding Blickensderfer’s particular bomb squad. Some sources indicate the 570th and some indicate the 571st.