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  B-24M-15-CO "Brief" Serial Number 44-42058  
USAAF
7th AF
494th BG
867th BS

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494th BG c1945

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494th BG May 4, 1945

Pilot  2nd Lt. Glen R. Custer, O-2058730 (KIA, BR)
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt Irving R. Brown, O-778710 (KIA, BR)
Navigator  2nd Lt Wallace F. Kaufman, O-931082 (POW, executed May 24, 1945) NY
Bombardier  2nd Lt Norbert J. Giese, O-929814 (KIA, BR)
Radio  T/Sgt James R. Tenney, 32677148 (KIA, BR)
Engineer  Sgt Richard E. Grimes, 32974352 (KIA, BR)
Nose Gunner  Cpl Victor B. Wilson, 13195222 (KIA, BR)
Top Turret  Cpl Irving Topp, 12177268 (KIA, BR)
Ball Turret  Cpl Robert N. Shillenn, 33576063 (KIA, BR)
Tail Gunner  Cpl Albin Rynkiewicz, 4205866 (KIA, BR)
Passenger  Sgt Floyd Collins Bennett, 14185619 (KIA, BR)

Crashed  May 4, 1945
MACR  14351

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Flown overseas to Hawaii.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 7th Air Force, 494th Bombardment Group, 867th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Brief". When lost, engines R-1830-65 serial number 45-5366, 45-5448, 45-5918, 45-5304. The bomber's 50 caliber machine gun serial numbers: 1665019, 1415253, 1266567, 1266886, 1540482, 1052918, 1220912, 1220827, 1266615, 1221313.

Mission History
On May 4, 1945 took off from Angaur Airfield flying in the no. 4 position on a bombing mission against anti-aircraft installations on Koror. Over the target, while on the bomb run, this B-24 was hit by anti-aircraft fire between the inboard #2 engine and fuselage, causing the left wing to fold, then break off. The fuselage fell in a flat spiral until it crashed.

Film footage appearing in "Mission to Koror and Arakabesan, Palau Islands" and a photograph record this B-24 hit and falling earthward. Also, several crew members aboard other B-24s witness the crash.

Fates of the Crew
The entire crew was killed in the crash with the exception of navigator Kaufman who successfully bailed out. Kaufman was captured by the Japanese and executed as of May 24, 1945.

Pat Scannon adds:
"In '01, working with Professor Donald Shuster and his wife at the University of Guam, we located his executioner in Japan and I was able to interview him there - quite an experience. [This interview is included in the documentary Last Flight Home]. None of these executed airman's remains, except for Lt. Kaufman, have yet been found.

Search
After the crash a US Navy PBY Catalina attempted a search, but the site was in close proximity to enemy installations and could not get close enough to search.

Wreckage
The wreckage landed just off shore and the wing into shallow water south of Koror at roughly 7° 20' N 134° 29' E, and remains 'in situ' to this day. Some of the wreckage is on Iberor Island.

The left wing of this bomber was identified by Pat Scannon in 1994 on the top of a small island about a mile from the wing of B-24J 44-40603.

Pat Scannon adds:
"There is a myth about an American bomb striking the wing. We dispelled when Dan got his superbly cleaned up version [of this footage]. When looking frame by frame (which I have done for hours), one can see no bomb strike the wing (although you can see plenty of bombs falling from above, as he points out) and one can clearly see the wing explode from below. Even the vets from 494th go back and forth on this but it all happened so fast that the only way to tell is by examining the cleaned up film. The wing streaming fuel in that footage is also from this same B-24. Dan O'Brien found that footage with the better known wing collapse footage."

Memorials
The entire crew with the exception of Kaufman were officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, the following crew members are buried together at Long Island National Cemetery on August 31, 1949 at section J at sites 13630, 13631, 13649, 13650: Rynkiewicz, Brown, Tenney, Grimes, Wilson, Shillenn, Bennett, Giese and Topp.

Kaufman is buried at Mount Hebron Cemetery in Flushing, NY.

Custer has a memorial marker at Crane Community Cemetery in Crane, IL at section II, row K, lot 6, grave 3.

Relatives
Charles A. Bennett adds:
"My uncle was Sgt Floyd Collins Bennett."

References
Missing Air Crew Report 14351 (MACR 14351)
NARA "Mission to Koror and Arakabesan, Palau Islands" B&W 35mm Film
NARA Records of World War II Prisoners of War - 2nd Lt Wallace F. Kaufman
FindAGrave - Glen R. Custer (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Glen Custer (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Irving R Brown (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Wallace F Kaufman
FindAGrave - Norbert J. Giese (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - James F. Tenney (Norbert J. Giese)
FindAGrave - Norbert J. Giese (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Victor B. Wilson (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Irving Topp (Irving Topp)
FindAGrave - Robert Neil Shillenn (Robert Neil Shillenn)
FindAGrave - Albin Daniel Rynkiewicz (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Floyd Collins Bennett (photo, group burial photo)
Last Flight Home
tells the story of this bomber and execution of Kaufman
Bent Prop "The '058 B-24"
Thanks to Pat Scannon / BentProp.org for additional information

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
May 3, 2016

 

Tech Info
B-24

POW
POW
1 Prisoner

Photos
Photo Archive

Map
7° 20' N
134° 29' E

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  Pacific Wrecks Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to bringing home those Missing In Action (MIA) and leveraging new technologies in the study of World War II Pacific and the Korean War.  
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