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Joe Palatas

 

Date and Place of Birth: June 24, 1921 Cleveland, OH
Date and Place of Death:    April 11, 1944 Altengrabow, Germany
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Outfield
Rank: Flight Officer
Military Unit: 325th Bomb Squadron, 92nd Bomb Group, Eighth Air Force USAAF
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Joseph M. Palatas, the son of Michael and Anna Palatas, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals' organization in 1942 He was assigned to the Springfield Cardinals of the Class C Middle-Atlantic League, where he played center field under manager Walt Alston. In late May, he was optioned - along with Johnny Griggs and Ed Moran - to the Washington Red Birds of the Class D Penn State Association and batted .278 with 56 RBIs in 107 games. Palatas was expected to join the Springfield Cardinals of the Class C Western Association for the 1943 season but entered military service in September 1942.

Palatas trained as a bombardier with the Army Air Force, and after earning a commission as a Flight Officer, he trained other bombardiers in the United States.

In January 1944, he was assigned to the 325th Bomb Squadron of the 92nd Bomb Group, Eighth Air Force at Poddington, England. On April 11, 1944, on only his second mission, Palatas was the bombardier on a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress (#42-97240), piloted by Second Lieutenant Robert Rasmussen, that was headed for a bombing raid over the industrial center of Stettin, north of Berlin, Germany. Severe anti-aircraft fire was encountered over the target area, and the B-17 was crippled, forcing the crew to bale out. Critically wounded, Palatas was captured by German troops and taken to the hospital at Stalag 11a Prisoner of War camp in Altengrabow, Germany, where he succumbed to his wounds the same day.

His remains were later returned to the United States and now rest in Calvary Cemetery, Ohio.

 

Team

League

Class

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

AVG

1942 Springfield Mid-Atlantic C - - - - - - - - -
1942 Washington Penn State Assoc D 107 395 80 110 11 5 4 56 .278

 

Joe Palatas

Joe Palatas (back row, third from left) with his B-17 Flying Fortress crew

B-17G

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress

Thanks to Barb Blystone and Cheryl Palatas for help with this biography.

Date Added February 4, 2012 Updated May 28, 2016

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