T/Sgt Steve H. Kovacik
568th Bomb Squadron, 390th Bomb Group (H)

Awarded Distinguished Service Cross for actions on 6 March 1944 aboard B-17G 42-31339 Schifless Skonk

Kovacik's Distinguished Service Cross citation reads:

STEVE H. KOVACIK, 33248652, Technical Sergeant, Army Air Forces, United States Army. For extraordinary heroism in action with the enemy, 6 March 1944. On this date Sergeant Kovacik was serving as Engineer Top-Turret Gunner on a B-17 airplane on a bombardment mission against Berlin. Soon after entering enemy territory, Sergeant Kovacik's airplane was viciously attacked by three enemy fighters. In the ensuing battle Sergeant Kovacik destroyed one enemy fighter but was himself painfully wounded by a 20MM shell, which also started a fire in the cockpit and forced him momentarily to leave his guns. Completely disregarding the pain of his wounds, Sergeant Kovacik refused aid, extinguished the fire, and returned to his gun position where he fought fiercely throughout a long running battle, during the course of which he destroyed another enemy airplane. The heroism, determination to destroy the enemy, and devotion to duty displayed by Sergeant Kovacik upon this occasion were inspiring to his fellow flyers and reflect highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States. Entered military service from Pennsylvania.

USSTAF General Order #29
19 May 1944

born: 1 April 1921
died: 15 February 1973

 

Kovacik's cased Distinguished Service Cross, Air Medal, and Purple Heart

 

Official engraving on Kovacik's Distinguished Service Cross

 

Unofficial engraving on his Purple Heart

 

Unofficial engraving on his Air Medal.

 

Kovacik's Air Crew wings, ribbon bars, DI's, and Sergeant stripes

 

Letter from 390th Bomb Group S-2 officially crediting Kovacik with the destruction of a JU-88 on 11 December 1943.

 

Letter from 390th Bomb Group S-2 officially crediting Kovacik with the destruction of two ME-109's on 6 March 1944.

 

Kovacik's high school graduation portrait

 

Two photos pf the crash site of B-17G 42-39813, Yankee Rebel. On 16 November 1943, Kovacik was the flight engineer/top turret gunner aboard Yankee Rebel.  During assembly over England, Yankee Rebel's #4 engine caught fire, forcing the crew to bail out.  Kovacik and seven other crew members survived.  Two crew members went down with the aircraft.

 

Kovacik, shaking hands with unknown officer.

 

Unknown crew photo. It appears that Kovacik is standing on the far right.

 

Newspaper clipping announcing the award of an oak leaf cluster to the Air Medal to Kovacik.

 

Newspaper clipping describing the action in which Kovacik was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

 

Local newspaper article regarding the 6 March 1944 mission to Berlin, which specifically mentions Kovacik and his actions, which would earn him the Distinguished Service Cross.

 

Kovacik's "Rocker Club" membership card.

 

Article about Kovacik from the Winter 2006-2007 edition of Square J Bulletin, the journal of the 390th Memorial Museum Foundation