Plymouth County

Lt. Robert M. Koenig


Letters Link





Lieutenant Robert Koenig is now stationed at the bomber base in Sioux City. Mrs. Koenig has gone down to join him and they are living in the Sioux apartments.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, April 9, 1943


Mrs. Robert M. Koenig has received a cablegram from her husband, Lt. Robert Koenig, who is in England, stating that he has received an air medal for having successfully completed five air missions. Lieut. Koenig is a member of a bomber crew.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, July 12, 1943

Parents Here Relieved; Haven’t Heard From Him for 2 Weeks

Mr. and Mrs. George Koenig were overjoyed Monday night when they learned that their son, Lieut. Bob Koenig, had returned safely from the dangerous mass raid on Hamburg, Germany. The Germans had claimed to have shot 27 of the planes down. American flyers reported that the anti-aircraft fire was terrific.

Lieut. Koenig was the navigator on a 4-motored bomber, which was said to have done exceptional work against military targets, and returned safely to base. Lieut. Koenig’s wife, the former Miss Jean Kistle, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Percy Kistle, is making her home at LeMars.

News that Bob Koenig is still in there flying was especially welcomed because it has been two weeks since any mail was received from him and he is a pretty reliable writer. And while two weeks is not a long time, a lot can happened in that time during active bombing. In the last letter received from him, Lieut. Koenig said “so far I haven’t received a scratch.”

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, July 29, 1943


As far as The Globe-Post has heard, the only LeMars military flyer to be going on almost daily bombing missions is Lieut. Bob Koenig, who, with his crew and the Flying Fortress, The Joker, has been in thick of the hottest bombing fights in which American flyers have participated. With the exception of the big raids on Hamburg, most of these flights have been practically unreported in this country, although the English papers have covered them with great detail.

Lieut. Koenig has written very interesting letters to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Koenig, and his wife, the former Jean Kistle. The following are excerpts from two of these letters which deal with the raids:

July 30: We are closing out another week in the ETO—and what a week it has been. Six missions in 7 days—rough! The enclosed clippings will give you an idea of what we have been doing to cut the length of time until I shall be with you again. But our luck has not held out as I had hoped it would—in fact, we have been having nothing but bad luck the past week.

In one of the Hamburg raids, Lieut. Edwards was wounded in the leg by a shell fragment. It was not serious, but it did put him in the hospital for a few weeks. About that time we began to fear for the security of our old crew, for we knew that some time before Ed got on his feet again, some of us would have to flying with someone else.

That is one of our biggest worries over here. We want more than anything else to keep our original crew intact. And so it happened. Two days later Lt. Gerdy and Sgt. Geldman went on a haul with Lt. Roberts—and that is the last we have seen of them.

Circumstances have led us to believe that they are safe somewhere, but we can’t help worry about them. Lt. Kelly was sent to the Army rest home for a week, so here I am all alone now with five of my enlisted men. We are wondering what the future will have in store for the remaining members of The Joker’s Crew.


I think I shall go to London this weekend. I have a 48-hour pass coming up, and I can think of no better place to spend it. Never having been there, I am anxious to see the second largest city in the world.

Besides, I shall have to get away from this field for awhile, or I shall go batty. Getting back to the barracks at night and finding the same empty beds tends to have a nervous effect on most of us.

You remember the English family I told you I had been entertained by several times? Well, they have a son living in London, who they insist I look up and stay with during my visit there. I am very glad for this opportunity, because American soldiers can really get clipped in London if they don’t watch their step.

The last time Lt. Edwards went to Long, he spent all of 27 pounds ($100) and didn’t have a thing to show for it. He still doesn’t know where it all went.

We now have six bombs (one for each mission) and six swastikas (one for each fighter downed) painted on our ship. I certainly wish there were 25 printed there—but I guess that will take some time yet.
In a later letter to Mr. and Mrs. Koenig, Lieut. Koenig wrote:

Aug. 3: All in all, our old crew has really been split up. WE have a good many shell holes in the planes we have been bringing back. BUT THE GOOD OLE FORTRESSES HAVE REALLY BEEN TAKING IT IN GRAND FASHION!

On the raid that Lt. Edwards was wounded, we had our glass nose shot almost off, but the only ill effect on us was that the blast of cold air at high altitude almost froze us.

We were all pretty much in need of a rest, so we had a 48-hour pass last weekend, and we went to London—they really treated me royally.
Newspaper clippings enclosed by Lieut. Koenig gave the dates and places on which raids were made, and he had those marked in which he took part. These flights were not necessarily in the same bomber. The dates circled are July 4, 10, 14, 24, 25, 26, 28 and 30. This makes 8 flights, but apparently 6 were credited to The Joker.
For example, reconnaissance photographic checkup of the flight of July 10 showed: 
“Carpiquet airfield at Caen, France. Barracks buildings and two small bomb dumps destroyed; storage shed hit by high explosives; one storage building destroyed and another gutted; one direct bomb bursts on building and bomb on railroad near the airfield; 77 storage area.”

(A lot of work for Fritz—that’s sure.)

“Ducat airfield at Abbeville: hangar and dispersal areas damaged.”
Raids participated in by Lt. Koenig include the bombing of Gnome and Rhode aero engine works at Le Mans, France; U-boat base at La Pallice, on the French coast; SNCA de L’Oest Aircraft factory at Nantes; aircraft repair plant at LeBourget, Paris; FW190 repair shops at Villa Coublay, France; Glisy airfields at Amiens; Aluminum factory, Heroya, Norway; Naval and submarine base at Trondhelm, Norway.

Reported heavily damaged were Rerik-West airport, Wustrow, Germany; naval dockyards, Hamburg; severe damage to Blohm & Voss shipyards, largest U-boat builders in Germany; Kriegsmarine Worft, Kiel, Germany; Deutsche Werke, Kiel, Germany; Howaldswerke, Kiel; at Hannover, Kontinental Gummiwerke (synthetic rubber); at Hannover, Guter Bahnhof Nord, August Seegers gear factory; T. Angers Crudenofenfabrik; Lindenfer Eisenund Stahlwerke.

At Oscherslebaen, Germany; large workshops, aircraft factory; airport.

On July 30, a bomber navigated by Lieut. Koenig hit industrial targets at Kassel, Germany. An explosion which sent a plume of black smoke towering thousands of feet into the air indicated direct hits on a possible ammunition dump or gasoline storage supply. The report ends: “Detailed assessment of damage in Kassell unavailable yet.”

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, August 19, 1943 (photo included)

Mrs. Robert Koenig Presented Air Medal Awarded Her Husband

In a simple, but impressive ceremony at the army air base, Sioux City, Thursday, the air medal was presented to the nearest next of kin of two of America’s heroes, Lieut. Robert M. Koenig, LeMars, and Lieut. Norbert Koll, Mapleton.

The ceremony was held on the parade grounds of the air base before a formal review of the base personnel. In reading the citations, Capt. E. S. Cram, base adjutant, read of the meritorious service to their country by the two fliers.

Lieut. Norbert D. Koll, missing in action, over Germany, and Lieut. Robert Koenig, now a German prisoner of war, Capt. Cram read from the citation, “For exceptionally meritorious achievement while participating in five separate bomber missions over enemy occupied Continental Europe. The courage, coolness and skill displayed by these officers upon these occasions reflect great credit upon themselves and the Armed Forces of the United States.”

The air medals were received by Mrs. Robert Koenig, wife, and Mrs. Albert Koll, mother, of the fliers.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, November 9, 1943 (photo included)

NOTE:  Mrs. Robert Koenig is second from the right in the above photo.


The Globe-Post has just received a postcard, sent by Lieut. Robert M. Koenig, German prisoner of war No. 2215, and dated Nov. 30. On the card Lieut. Koenig says:
“This is probably a novel form of Christmas card—even to The Globe-Post.  With the aid of the Red Cross, the Kriege dance band, and some (possibly) German beer, we are planning a big holiday celebration.

“I am writing a book called ‘Out of the Sack’ which I hope to publish on my return. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.  Bob.”

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, February 21, 1944


Red Cross Furnished “Makins” For Good Christmas Dinner

Lieut. Robert M. Koenig, who has been in a German prison camp since his plane was short down in the raid on Schweinfurt, Germany, last October, writes his parents, Mr. and Mrs. George W. Koenig under date of December 14, a letter they received February 29, which says:

“Christmas is fast approaching—a Christmas very different from any I ever spent before. By way of celebration we are getting special Red Cross boxes with which to prepare a big feed. The “Jerries” are going to give us some Christmas trees for the barracks. Unless I miss my calculation, I should be receiving my first package soon.

Please send the next package on receipt of this letter including chocolate, pipe, pipe cleaners, cigars, eversharp pencil with plenty of leads (no pens allowed), handkerchiefs, water color set, two decks of cards, box of shredded cocoanut and two pads of white typing paper.

We are getting plenty to eat here so far and in general are quite well off. The morale in the camp is quite high and most of us are making good use of our time here in such things as reading, studying text books on all subjects, writing or generally laying plans for the future. Have been offered a position in an advertising office business, which I may accept.—Bob”

Another letter dated December 25 was received in the same mail which said among other things:

“Christmas Day, my first wedding anniversary and I am a long from my home, my wife and my folks—and still I have much to be thankful for. We had a delicious Christmas dinner tonight, consisting of Spam, potatoes, peas, nuts, jellied crackers, fruit cake, toast and coffee. I could hardly move after eating. Lieut. Spivey is a truly wonderful cook. Our band held a jam session last night that lasted to 2 a.m. The band is beginning to play so well together, we are seriously considering going on tour after the war.

I have had positions after the war offered me by men here including one in San Francisco and another in Sioux City. Whatever I do will be subsequent to publishing my book, ‘Out of the Sack.’ Received your first letter along with Jean’s and Mrs. Kistle’s in time to make a grand Christmas present. Hope to spend next Christmas with you. Love—Bob”

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, March 3, 1944


Mr. and Mrs. George Koenig received a card from their son, Bob Koenig, in Stalag Luft 3, prison camp in Germany, dated December 24, 1944, which said:

Dear Dad and Mother:
As short note to let you know how we are spending Christmas. The combined cooks, cooking now for twelve men, having their larder increased by special Red Cross issue, have fashioned a dinner consisting of turkey with dressing, plum pudding, fruit cake, cranberry sauce, potatoes, beans, salad, soup and coffee.
The band will play again, we’ll carol a bit, and then pray that the war will end soon. Love, Bob

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, March 16, 1945


Mrs. Robert Koenig received a cablegram from her husband, Lt. Robert Koenig, on Wednesday stating that he is now in England which, he said, is one step closer to home.

He has been making attempts to get transportation home via plane but rather expects that he will make the trip by boat. No date was given as to the date he expects to arrive, but he is ready and waiting for transportation.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, May 25, 1945

LeMars Airman Home After Long Period in Prison

LeMars, Iowa – Special: Lt. Robert Koenig has arrived home in LeMars at the end of a long trail from Europe’s war and German prison camps. He arrived home Saturday and expects to get a discharge from the service within 90 days.

Lt. Koenig, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Koenig of LeMars, entered the service in January 1942. He received his wings at Monroe, La., and was sent overseas in May 1943. He had been a German prisoner of war since August 1943 when his plane was shot down in the attack on Schweinfurt Germany and in January 1945 was moved to Stalag 7A near Moosburg. He was released from the prison camp shortly after V-E day and arrived in the States several weeks ago.

Lt. Koenig and his wife, the former Jean Kistle, also of LeMars, plan to visit in California before making their future home in New York.

Source: The Sioux City Journal, July 12, 1945