George Prezioso was born May 24, 1919 in Belleville NJ. At age seventeen, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). On November 1, 1940 he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) and was trained as a radio operator was able to type roughly 35 words per minute in Morse Code.
Assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 63rd Bombardment Squadron and sent overseas to Sydney. then was assigned to 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby. His first combat mission was April 5, 1943. Flying as a radio operator and gunner and flew with a variety of B-17 Flying Fortress crews based at 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby. He achieved the rank of Technical Sergeant.
On April 19, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby as radio operator aboard B-17F "Fightin' Swede" 41-24520 piloted by Captain Folmer J. Sogaard, Jr. on a bombing mission against Japanese shipping off Wewak. Over the target, this B-17 successfully skip bombed a tanker that was hit and left "burning fiercely" and "definitely sunk", then bombed Wewak Airfield. Only other shipping damage claimed on that mission was B-17F "Talisman" piloted by Lt William O'Brien claiming two "very near misses" on another ship.
While flying as as a radio operator during a night bombing mission on the night of July 10-11, 1943, he survived the ditching of B-17F "Black Jack / The Joker's Wild" 41-24521 off Cape Vogel and the entire crew was rescued. Afterwards, he earned the Air Medal for this mission.
Later, was assigned to the 317th Troop Carrier Group, 39th Troop Carrier Squadron, flying B-17s converted to armed transports, with their lower turret removed and cargo bins installed in the bomb bay. They participated in missions dropping supplies to Allied troops beyond the reach of fighter escort.
In total, he flew 72 combat missions totaling over 500 combat hours. In late 1944, he returned to the United States and spent the remainder of the war stateside. Postwar, he worked for Wright building engines. After retirement, he continues to live in his hometown of Belleville, NJ.
On January 9, 2015 Prezioso passed away at age 95 in the VA Hospital, Lyons, NJ. He is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Bloomfield, NJ.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - George Prezioso
Fifth Air Force General Orders No 197 Air Medal citations for Blasewitz, Clinton, Dias, Peterson, Prezioso, Shaver, Smith and Wilson
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume 1 pages 175 (April 19, 1943 mission), 244-245 (photo), 401 (index Prezioso)
Obituary - George Prezioso May 24, 1919 – January 9, 2015
Thanks to George Prezioso and Steve Birdsall for additional information