A True Hero – John F. Cummings

This is a post from my blog section “Profiles of True Heroes – Military and Law Enforcement”.  I love to go cycling.  As I started getting serious about it, I decided to name my routes after people – and who better to dedicate my routes to than the heroes in military and law enforcement?  

After completing a route, I would select a hero I had heard about and then write about them.  There are three types of people in this post: some gave their service for America and served in the armed forces.  Some have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.  And some protected the local community and died in the line of duty.  

After their story, I included information about the route I dedicated to these heroes.  I hope you can learn more about them and gain an understanding of what they have done for us.

US Army Air Corps 2nd Lieutenant John F. Cummings, WWII – B-24 Bombardier, 515 Squadron, 376 Bombing group (heavy)

John Frederick Cummings is my ex-wife’s great uncle.  He was born on May 1, 1918 in Denver, Colorado; the first born to Irish immigrants John and Elizabeth.  After being very active in the 1930’s designing advertising logos for local businesses, he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps on March 25, 1942 and trained as a bombardier.

There was a requirement of 25 missions before heavy bomber crew members had the option of rotating home.  However, John completed a total of 50 combat missions!  Among them the famous Operation Tidal Wave.  Operation Tidal Wave was an air mission conducted by B-24 Liberators based out of Libya and Southern Italy.  The targets were nine oil refineries around Ploiesti, Romania on August 1, 1943.  

Operation Tidal Wave was one of the most catastrophic for the US Army Air Forces in the 1280px-b-24d27s_fly_over_polesti_during_world_war_iiEuropean Theater.  There were a total of fifty-three aircraft and six hundred and sixty crew lost.  This was the second heaviest loss ever experienced by the USAAF on a single mission.  August 1, 1943 would go down in history as “Black Sunday”.  There were a total of five Medals of Honor and multiple Distinguished Service Crosses awarded to crew members following the operation.  One of those Distinguished Service Crosses was handed to John F. Cummings on September 1, 1943 along with oak leaf clusters, meaning he had received other consecutive awards of the same merit.

Lieutenant Cummings returned home for some rest and relaxation early in 1944 and was later assigned to pilot training at Goodfellow Field, San Angelo, Texas.  There, he became a test pilot for one of the very early (proto-type) American jet fighters – possibly either the P-59B Airacomet or the P-80 Shooting Star.  On July 20, 1945, John died in a plane crash during takeoff.  John was not married and did not have any children; he was only 28 years old.

As a commemoration, the Cummings-Prather VFW Post #193 located on 5193 S. Morrison St. and Sheridan in Denver, Colorado, was named after him.

Route

Distance: 32.52 miles

Duration: 2 hours, 40 minutes, 20 seconds

Average Pace: 12.2 mph

Date: 04/15/2014

After my last route, my rear tire was punctured, so I had to pay a visit to my local Bike Source before I began.  I had never ridden this part of the Cherry Creek Trail before.  I rode a bit of it in an earlier route but this time, I started at the Babi-Yar Park on Yale and Havana and went just past E-470.  On the way there and back, part of the trail was blocked off due to some construction…so I had to be creative!  I clocked some extra mileage getting back to the trail but it was alright.  It was an all around awesome route…more uphill on the way there…rode through Cherry Creek State Park which was amazing!  I think for my next route, I’ll try and conquer the northern part of Cherry Creek Trail! I am also honored to dedicate this route to a man who will now never be forgotten!

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