The young men assigned to the Memphis Belle represented a typical Eighth Air Force heavy bomber crew. They ranged in age from 19 to 26 and came from states across the US, including Washington, Indiana, Texas, and Connecticut. Like their Eighth Air Force counterparts—and contrary to a popular myth—they flew most, but not all, of their missions together.
During the course of the combat tour, the Memphis Belle crew had three different top turret gunner/engineers (Leviticus “Levi” Dillon, Eugene Adkins, and Harold Loch) and three waist gunners (Harold Loch, who later moved to the top turret position, Bill Winchell, and E. Scott Miller). Several different copilots also flew with the Memphis Belle’s normal crew.
Memphis Belle crew early in the combat tour: (top, l to r) Robert Hanson (radio operator), Vince Evans (bombardier), Robert Morgan (pilot), James Verinis (copilot), Charles Leighton (navigator); (bottom, l to r) Cecil Scott (ball turret), Eugene Adkins (top turret), Harold Loch (waist gun), John Quinlan (tail turret), and Bill Winchell (waist gun).
SSgt E. Scott Miller joined the Memphis Belle crew in February 1943, flying 16 missions as a waist gunner. Miller had to stay in England to finish his 25 missions—SSgt Casimer “Tony” Nastal took his place on the war bond tour.
The original copilot, James Verinis, flew five missions with the Memphis Belle crew then commanded his own aircraft. He is pictured here (standing, 1st from left) with the crew of his B-17, Connecticut Yankee. Verinis rejoined the Memphis Belle crew for the war bond tour.
“If you want in just one word how we were able to go through the hell of Europe 25 times and get back home…the word is TEAMWORK.”
“Now that the boys know they only have 25 raids to go before they get a let-up, morale is good.”
“American bombing skill and equipment are the best the world has ever seen. There is no question about that.”
“When you are the lead navigator, the whole formation depends on you. The responsibility is frightening sometimes.”
“When you cross into enemy territory, you have a tense expectant feeling. You never know just what you are getting into.”
“We have been in some pretty tight spots. There was the time that six Focke-Wulfs appeared from nowhere, and all six cut loose on us…and [we] had to slug it out with them.”
“A bullet from an enemy airplane went right through my little compartment…If I had still been leaning forward in shooting position that bullet would have gone straight through my head.”
“It’s always a great thrill to get a fighter in your sights and let him have it. I don’t know how many I have hit, but I have two confirmed.
“Before the attack, you are usually scared, but when the planes start coming up and attacking you are all right.”
“We had some luck. We had a good crew, and what’s just as important, we had absolute confidence in each other.”
“I went to my Squadron Commander and told him I’d like to fly combat. He didn’t bat an eye. He seemed happy to hear it.”
Bob Morgan: Pilot and Aircraft Commander
Captain Robert “Bob” Morgan led the Memphis Belle crew. After the war bond tour, he volunteered for additional combat duty and flew B-29s against Japan. Morgan was promoted to major at a ceremony at Patterson Field (now Wright-Patterson AFB) in July 1943.
Morgan’s B-29, Dauntless Dotty.
Morgan (left) flew with Maj Gen Emmett O’Donnell (center) on the first raid on Japan by B-29s based in the Marianas. Capt Vince Evans (right), Memphis Belle bombardier, flew with Morgan in the Pacific Theater.
Vince Evans: Bombardier
Captain Vincent “Vince” Evans’ uniform jacket worn during his second combat tour flying with pilot Robert Morgan in B-29s in the Pacific Theater.
Jim Verinis: Copilot
Capt James “Jim” Verinis flew five missions on the Memphis Belle before taking command of another B-17 called the “Connecticut Yankee.”
Chuck Leighton: Navigator
Captain Charles “Chuck” Leighton flew his whole tour with the Memphis Belle crew.
Capt Charles Leighton (left) with pilot Capt Morgan (middle) and tail gunner SSgt Quinlan (right) shortly after completing the crew's 25th mission on May 17, 1943.
Bob Hanson: Radio Operator
TSgt Robert “Bob” Hanson flew his entire tour with the Memphis Belle crew.
Scott Miller: Waist Gunner
SSgt E. Scott Miller joined the Memphis Belle late but flew 16 missions with the crew. He remained in England after the crew went back to the US and completed his 25th mission on July 4, 1943.
Miller’s identification card.
Bill Winchell: Waist Gunner
SSgt William “Bill” Winchell flew his entire combat tour with the Memphis Belle crew. After the war bond tour, he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant.
Col Stanley Wray: 91st Bomb Group Commander
Colonel Wray flew with the Memphis Belle crew on two missions while leading the group in combat. He later achieved the rank of major general, retiring from the Air Force in 1962.
Related Fact Sheets
The Memphis Belle: American Icon and 25th Mission
Memphis Belle Crew
The “Memphis Belle” and Nose Art
26th Mission: War Bond Tour
“Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress”
Heavy Bomber “Firsts”
Combat Aircraft to Museum Artifact
Crippling the Nazi War Machine: USAAF Strategic Bombing in Europe
Early Operations (1942 to mid-1943) - Eighth Air Force in England
Ninth/Twelfth Air Forces in the Mediterranean
Combat Box/Communication and Life at 25K
Keeping them Flying: Mechanics and Armorers
Combined Bomber Offensive: Summer 1943 to Victory
Bigger Raids, Bigger Losses, and Crisis
Deadly Skies over Europe (Luftwaffe defense)
Bomber Crew Protection
Operation Tidalwave (Ploesti, 1 Aug 43)
Regensburg/Schweinfurt (17 Aug 43)
Black Thursday/Schweinfurt (14 Oct 43)
Fifteenth Air Force (created Sep 43)
Women’s Army Corps
Fighter Escort: Little Friends
Big Week (20-25 Feb 44)
Operation Frantic: Shuttle Raids to the Soviet Union
Strategic Bombing Victorious
Return to B-17F Memphis Belle Fact Sheet
Return to WWII Gallery List