Captain Joseph D. Rebo (1924 - 2000)

8th Army Air Force, WWII - Europe, B17 Pilot, Air Medal

Veteran Joseph Rebo
Veteran Joseph Rebo Crew

Remembering - Captain Joseph D. Rebo - MZHS "Hero of Air Power"

Joseph O. and Pearl Rebo of Weedville had five sons that served in WW2. Captain Joseph D. Rebo and Lt. Michael G. Rebo were both pilots. Their other sons that served were CWO (ret) John Rebo, T/Sgt Andrew Rebo, and Private Alex Rebo. After graduating from Jay Township High School in 1942, Joseph Rebo joined the AAF in February, 1943. He completed his flight training receiving both his wings and his 2nd Lt bars in April, 1944. In December, 1944, after completing B17 crew training, his air crew was assigned to the 8th AAF, 351st Bomb Group, 510th Bomb Squadron (the “Devils”) at Polebrook Airfield in Northamptonshire, England. 

From Polebrook, his crew flew over 35 combat missions over Germany from January through April, 1945. These included railroad yards and airfields over such noted areas as Berlin, Dresden, and Cologne. They played an active role in the 8th AAF’s March blitz on the enemy, when they flew an average of one mission every two days. Like most B17 crews, they did not fly any one special plane, but whatever was available. Some of the B17s they flew included “The Uninvited Guest”, “War Hawk”, “April Girl II”, and “John Silver”. Of all their missions Capt Rebo’s crew returned on each flight with relatively few problems even though they encountered enemy aircraft and lots of flak especially over Berlin. This is a testament to Captain Rebo’s flying abilities and an excellent crew. He received the Air Medal with a silver cluster, V-E victory medal, and various campaigns medals and other ribbons. 

One interesting mission involved the crew in a flight that spared all their lives. One engine was lost due to flak while en-route to the target and a second engine after bombs away. Unable to keep up with the group they were now alone on their return. Over France the flight engineer called out “Two fighters-One o’clock high.” The German pilots were attacking from different directions. There was a cloud formation below them and Lt Rebo told the crew to hang on as he nosed the B-17 down in a steep dive. The fighters and the B17 began firing at each other. One fighter was hit and went down. Engine #3 of the B17 was hit, and had to be shut down. Flying on only one engine they had a 50% chance of reaching England. They decided to land their B17 in an open space along the French coast. They broke out the rafts and jumped into the Channel. Fortunately, they were picked up by a British Destroyer and made it back to fly another day.

Joe returned home, graduated from Penn State in 1950, and started his career in California working for the Department of Defense. In 1956 he married Trudy Pollock, raised a family with 2 sons-David and Alan, and retired in 1980 after a very successful career aviation. After retirement Joe continued to promote aviation by being a charter member and in command of the Air Force Association of Northern California and also the Quiet Birdman (a pilot fraternal organization). He enjoyed hiking, running marathons, and spending time with his family. Joe passed away April 9, 2000 and is buried in San Carlos, CA. It is with pride that the MZHS honors Joseph Rebo as one of its “Heroes of Air Power” along with Michael, his brother. 

Lest We Forget…