Lest We forget-Vet Special
(Please share similar stories with us)
Remembering: Staff Sargeant Eugene B. Taggart Jr. (1919-2010)
8th Army Air Force, WW2-Europe, B17 Tail Gunner, Purple Heart, POW "MZHS Hero of Air Power"
REMEMBERING..........Staff Sergeant Eugene B. Taggart Jr.
Eugene Taggart Jr. (1919-2010), son of Eugene B. and Zelia Schrecongost Taggart Sr., was born in Indiana, Pa and
graduated from high school there, and attended Carnegie Technical Institute. However, the world war was escalating
after Pearl Harbor, and Eugene soon joined the Army Air Forces in January, 1942, was trained as a aircrew gunner,
and was soon to be deployed as a B17 tail gunner to the 8th Air Force, 92nd Bombardment Group, 407th bomber squadron
in RAF Podington Airfield, North Bedfordshire, England. The 92nd bombardment group was known as -"Fame's Favored
On February 24, 1944, Eugene's first mission (and the crew's first) of the war in Europe was as the tail gunner of
his B17 during the famous campaign called "Big Week". From February 20-25, 1944, the Army Air Forces
launched "Operation Argument", a series of missions against the Third Reich that became known as Big Week.
Missions 237, 238 and 239 were flown against the German aircraft industry; 7 B-17s are lost. Heavy clouds caused
over half the bombers dispatched to return without bombing. The B17G piloted by Lt John W Rapp in which Staff
Sergeant Taggart flew was one of those B17s that continued on. Their targets were industrial centers in
Their B17 was shot down by a German fighter by direct hits after crossing the German border inbound, and had to
make a forced crash landing near Cloppenburg, Germany. Three crew members were killed in action and the 7 others
were captured by the Germans and were held as Prisoners of War in Germany. Eugene Taggart was one of the POWs
and was held for 14 months in three different POW camps including the infamous German POW camp in Poland- called
Stalag Luft IV. The POWs were evacuated in February, 1946 by a "Death March" which lasted about 89 days and over
600 miles. Victory-Europe (VE) day was approaching (May, 1945). Eugene with the other POW crew members was
liberated in April, 1945. Though often overlooked by history, the Death March (aka- the "Shoe Leather Express")
across Germany ranks as one of the most outrageous cruelties ever committed against American fighting men. Another
POW on the Death March was fellow Valley AAF aircrew member and Hero honoree-Clark Ingram. The war was over, and
soon Eugene was on his way home.
Eugene's tour of duty was quick but couldn't be called easy with 14 months in the Stalag Luft IV POW camp and the
Death March through Germany. He earned the Purple Heart and a POW medal for his services. After the war he
returned home, in 1950 married Donna Mae Compton, and after she died he married Nancy Lynn Najarian. He worked as
a draftsman for Reuter-Stokes. He was a member of the Valley American Legion, Weedville UM Church, enjoyed his
children and grandchildren, and his Honda (see picture above). Around 1990 he moved to Benezette, then Weedville
with his family. Eugene recently passed away in February, 2010 with burial in Greenwood Cemetery in
Indiana, Pa. We are pleased to honor Eugene Taggart as one of the Mt Zion Historical Society's "Heroes of
Eugene B. Taggart Jr. 03/01/2010 Eugene B. Taggart Jr., 90, River Road, Weedville, a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Force, died Sunday at DuBois
Regional Medical Center.Born July 23, 1919 in Indiana, he was the son of the late Eugene B. and Zelia Schrecongost Taggart Sr. He was
married to Donna Mae Compton in 1950. She preceded him in death in 1977. He later married Nancy Lynn Najarian of
Glencliff, N.H.He was a graduate of Indiana High School and the Carnegie Technical Institute. He worked as a draftsman for
Reuter-Stokes, Inc. of Cleveland. He was a member of the Weedville United Methodist Church and the Weedville
American Legion.He was a Staff Sergeant with the Army Air Force 92nd Bomb Group, 407th Bomb Squadron, where he served as a tail
gunner on a B17 which was shot down over Germany where he was held as a POW for 14 months. Born and raised in
Indiana, he lived in New Hampshire from 1983-90, some years in Benezette, and has been a Weedville resident since
1992.He is survived by two daughters, Mary (Jan) Stewart of Weedville, and Jean R. Taggart of Boston; two stepsons,
James Weikert of Bozeman, Mont., and Jeffrey Weikert of Crestview, Fla; a stepdaughter, Shannon Weikert of
Florence, S.C.; a sister, Dorothy Coney of Juno Beach, Fla; and one granddaughter.
He was preceded in death by a brother, his twin, S. John Taggart.
TAGGART: Eugene B. Jr., Weedville, died Feb. 28, 2010. Friends will be received from 10-11 a.m. Tuesday at the
Ralph M. Geer Funeral Home in Penfield. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home
with Pastor Tim Rogers officiating. Burial will be in Greenwood Cemetery in Indiana. Memorial donations may be
made to the Weedville United Methodist Church or the Weedville American Legion.