Joseph Roderick "Rod" Myshrall

USAAF   Staff Sgt.

Tail Gunner

DFC,   Air Medal x13

Born 13 July, 1920 in Millinocket, Maine
Son of S. Albert & Catherine N. Myshrall.
Rod was the Stearns High School (Millinocket, ME) 1939 Sr Class President, outstanding student and star athlete.
He played semi-pro football, baseball, basketball; played college football, baseball, basketball at Higgins Classical Institute (Charleston, ME), NE Missouri State Teachers College (Kirksville, MO).
In June of 1941 Rod had a successful tryout at Ebbetts Field with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the watchful eye of Pee Wee Reese. They offered him a contract, he went back to Millinocket to get his fathers blessing. When he got home the town doctor, Doc Morey, was in their living room. He told Rod if he agreed to go to medical school, after he graduated he'd come back to Millinocket to intern with him and when he retired he'd give his practice to him. Having come from an extremely poor family this was an offer he couldn't refuse. He called the Dodgers and told them he got a better offer.

Rod Myshrall
He went to NE MO State Teachers College in Kirksville, MO (today's Truman State University) to study osteopathic medicine (the precursor of today's chiropractic medicine). He received a full academic and athletic scholarship, played football and had just made the basketball team when Pearl Harbor was bombed. After finals, he went back to Maine and enlisted in Portland on January 02 (or 10th), 1942.
He served with the 8th, 12th and 15th USAAF's, 97th BG (Heavy), 341st BS.
He arrived in England in June 1942, but didn't begin missions until 1943 when they moved to N. Africa.
He was stationed in N. Africa from 1 January to 13 September 1943.
His combat mission record indicates that he flew with the 414th at least once on 4 Apr 1943, Naples, Italy.
He flew his first 26 missions on the B-17F "Flying Patch" & his last 25 aboard the famed B-17F "Thunderbird" (41-24437).
Total of 51 Daylight Combat Missions in the MTO.
He was reported MIA 18-21 June 1943 along with the rest of the crew of "Thunderbird".
One of only twenty-seven WWII Aerial Bomber Gunner Aces in US military history.
He spent his active career with his name misspelled as "Myshall" instead of "Myshrall". After returning to the States it took over a year to get the military to correct his records before his discharge in July 1945. So you will see his name most often as "Myshall."
Unfortunately after the war both opportunities had passed. He married Lucille Paris of Bloomington, IL (while he was stationed at Chanute Field. He often said the moment he saw Lucille "Lu" Paris he knew he was going to marry her), they moved back to Maine where he attended Colby College in Waterville, ME playing all 3 sports, then they moved back to Bloomington where Rod attended and graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University, he also starred on the baseball team that featured 3 future major leaguers, including the great Arizona State head coach and major league manager Bobby Winkles.
He graduated in 1952 and went to work for State Farm Insurance.
They Moved to Baton Rouge, La in 1960.
President of Fairwood Country Club and it's Men's Golf Association.
Volunteered many years promoting the LSU-Fairwood Women's Collegiate Golf Tournament.
Hit a hole-in-one !
He played in the New Orleans Open Pro-Am with Tom Watson.
He retired from State Farm in 1995 after 43 years of service.
He died 2 February, 2013 at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital (92 years old) and Lu followed in 2015.
He and Lucille were married for 67 years. They had 4 children, 13 grandchildren, 17 greatgrandchildren ... and counting ...

Rod & Lu



Millinocket Man Downs Two Nazi Planes Off Sicily

An Associated Press dispatch from Allied Headquarters in North Africa reports Tall Gunner Sgt. J. R Myshrall of Millinocket got two German fighter planes in an attack on Messina in which the Flying Fortress "Thunderbird" was reported missing, but limped to safety on two of its four engines.
The Thunderbird, with 140 holes in its green metal body, reached the safety of Pantelleria Island after setting a record for bombers in the North African war theatre by destroying five of 15 ME-109's which attempted to send it flaming into the sea. The Thunderbird had been officially reported missing after being badly damaged during an attack against Sicily's chief communications center last Friday.
Sgt. Myshrall was recently awarded two oak leaf clusters and an air medal in addition to a campaign ribbon.


Thunderbird Crew
The ground crew of Thunderbird


Heading out on a mission
The crew of Thunderbird heading out on a mission


Receiving the DFC
Rod (on the left) receiving the DFC


B-17F "Thunderbird" #
Commissioned by Rod's son John (Mark Styling - artist), the caption for the piece says: The ‘Thunderbird’ flew more than 120 combat missions with the 8th, 12th and 15th United States Army Air Forces 97th Bombardment Group from July 1942 – November 1944. The plane is depicted after completing 65 missions when its tail gunner, Staff Sergeant Joseph R. Myshrall completed his 50th mission.
On 12 January 1943, ‘Thunderbird’ returned it’s ten member crew safely on a wing and a prayer from a mission to Tripoli after losing both starboard engines and was the subject of Ernie Pyle’s story, ‘Ten Men Come Back From the Grave On Flying Fortress.’ On 18 June 1943, ‘Thunderbird’ again miraculously returned it’s entire crew safely after losing both port engines, this time from a mission to Sicily. ‘Thunderbird’ was reported Missing In Action on this mission and it‘s story became the subject of The Army Hour Radio’s, ‘The Thunderbird Does It Again.’

Thunderbird close-up

The Crew of B-17 "Thunderbird"

Radio Operator
Engineer/Top Turret
Ball Turret Gunner
Left Waist Gunner
Right Waist Gunner
Tail Gunner
2nd Lt Eugene C Wayman, Little Rock, AR
2nd Lt R. I. Sims, Los Angeles, CA
1st Lt H. S. Jones, St Paul, MN
2nd Lt Donald J Malloy, Dayton, OH
Sgt J. E. King, Hartford City, IN
S/Sgt Melvin C “Bud” Bahnmiller, Ann Arbor, MI
S/Sgt Daniel E “Danny” Gabel, Platteville, WI
Sgt Benjamin E “Benny” Irvin, Pascola, MO
Sgt Eugene “Gene” “Flash” Light, NY City, NY
S/Sgt Joseph R “Rod” Myshrall, Millinocket, ME

Rod flew his last 25 missions in Thunderbird

If anyone has photographs of these planes or men, please email me

The Crew of B-17 "Flying Patch"

Radio Operator
Top Turret Gunner
Ball Turret
Waist Gunner/Engineer
Waist Gunner
Tail Gunner
Capt H.P. McConkle (McCorkle)
Lt Ed Neff Jr.
Lt Puglis
Lt Robinson
T/Sgt R. Troxell
T/Sgt Melvin "Bud" Bahnmiller
S/Sgt Danny Gable (Gabel)
S/Sgt Benny Irvin
S/Sgt Eugene "Flash" Light
S/Sgt Joseph "Rod" Myshrall

Rod flew his first 26 missions in Flying Patch

It would seem that all the gunners from Flying Patch moved on to Thunderbird together - without the rest of the crew.
Maybe they all decided to do another tour together. Also interesting is that it looks like Bahnmiller took over Irvin's job as Engineer.



Victories Include :

two Me109s destroyed (Attack on Messina)

5 / 10 / 0

Originally credited with 3 confirmed kills, two were confirmed after the war.

From John : "We knew he had 3 confirmed kills and 12 unconfirmed. However, in my research I found some new information thanks to Jan Safarik. He told me during the war both sides greatly exaggerated their number of kills. After the war historians from every country poured over the records to reach a consensus. One area of interest were gunners on bombers, they found only 27 gunners on bombers reached "ace" status. After the dust cleared, dad had 2 of his unconfirmed kills moved into the confirmed category to give him 5 confirmed kills. He had no idea. Being a bit hard of hearing, when I told him that he was an "ace", he looked real hard at me and said, "did you just call me an ass?" After we all quit laughing I explained and showed him again what I'd found. His reaction was mixed. He was honored, but also sad to find that two enemy pilots deaths had been confirmed, which he took no joy in."


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Related Sites :

Safarik's US Gunner Aces


Thanks go out to

Terri & John Myshrall for the photos & infos !

On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources; newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC); the Google News Archives; the London Gazette Archives and other sources both published and private.

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