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Max Ammer 2003
|Pilot 1st Lt. Thomas R. Grimes,
O-805814 (MIA / KIA, BR) IL
Gunner SSgt Frank J. Kramerich, 36120826 (MIA / KIA) Detroit, MI
Force Landed September 10, 1944
Built at Douglas. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-20G-25-DO Havoc serial number 43-9180. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF). Possibly, assigned to the 312th Bombardment Group (312th BG) with tail letter J. Afterwards, assigned to the 417th Bombardment Group "Sky Lancers" (417th BG), 675th Bombardment Squadron (675th BS). No known nose art or nickname. When lost, engines R-2600-23 serial numbers 43-103574 and 43-107270. Armed with eight .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers unknown.
On September 10, 1944 at 8:35am took off from Kornasoren Airfield on Noemfoor Island piloted by 1st Lt. Thomas R. Grimes with gunner SSgt Frank J. Kramerich armed with bombs on a low level strike against Amahai Airfield. This aircraft was flying in the no. 2 position on the right wing of A-20G pilot Captain George W. Young who was leading the the second element. The weather was reported as cloudy with cumulus clouds from an altitude of 1,200' to 8,000'.
At approximately 1:00pm, when the formation flying at 7,000' over Waroe Bay approaching Boela (Bula) on the coast of Ceram Island (Seram), this aircraft contacted Captain George W. Young by radio stating that an engine was not functioning properly and that he was turning back to base in the vicinity of Parang Island and Boela Airfield. Afterwards, this A-20 was seen to make a 180° turn and opened his bomb bay doors and jettison its bomb load. This was the last radio contact or sighting with this aircraft and was last seen headed back to base. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Afterwards, a search was coordinated by Major Robert M. Nelson who contacted the 34th Fighter Sector was given details about the aircraft and a search was requested for the remainder of the day. Also PBY Catalina "Daylight II" was sent to search MacClure Gulf and the surrounding areas for the missing plane after receiving a report that an A-20 was down in that area but returned with nil sightings.
In fact, this aircraft reached western New Guinea then force landed or crashed near Tofoy (Tofo) on the Senindara River near Otawir Airfield. During the crash, pilot Grimes was killed on impact. Reportedly, gunner Kramerich survived the crash but later died near the aircraft.
After the crash, native people visited the crash site and soon afterwards the Japanese Army arrived. Possibly, they located or captured Kramerich who remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
During June 1947, this A-20 was located by RAAF Searcher Team led by F/Lt. Martin T. O'Shea.
Recovery of Remains
During June 1947 when the A-20 was located the remains of pilot Grimes were recovered turned over to the U. S. Army and transported to the Philippines.
Extracts from report by S/L Keith Rundle Serial No. 58, (c) Babo Area:
"A native names Lewakabessi has seen this plane... he went with the Japanese to the aircraft. They brought a body back (probably Grimes) and this native should know where it is buried."
Grimes was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He was buried at the Manila American Cemetery at plot A row 7 grave 180.
Kramerich was officially declared dead on February 15, 1946 and remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA). He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. It is believed Kramerich's remains are located between Tofo village and the A-20 crash site, but have never been located.
Other sources list the target of this mission as Babo Airfield.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - A-20G-25-DO Havoc 43-9180
"9180 (417th BG) lost Sep 10, 1944, SW Pacific."
Missing Air Crew Report 9128 (MACR 9128) created September 12, 1944 lists target at Amahai Airfield on Ceram Island [sic Amahai Island]
Extracts from report by S/L Keith Rundle No. 58, (c) Babo Area, 6-1947
[Newspaper article, details unknown] "Special RAAF Search Mission... aircraft that failed to return from wartime operations over the NEI and found the remains of 85 Australian, American and Dutch airmen" [published mid-1947]
"Up the Senindara River the party found an American Havoc in the jungle. The pilot was dead under the wing. The gunner had apparently survived and walked to the village of Tofo which was deserted at the time. There was no water in the vicinity so the gunner began to walk back to the wreck. Some distance before reaching it he committed suicide."
AGRS Sheet No. 4 / Explanations to the attached overlay map: 13, Location: Tofoe, District of Babo, Type of plane: A-20, Date of crash: on or about 10 September 1944. Date investigated 28 June 48"
Rampage of the Roarin' 20's (2009) does not list this serial number in the appendix as assigned to the 312th BG
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Thomas R. Grimes
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank J. Kramerich
FindAGrave - 1Lt Thomas R Grimes (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Frank J Kramerich (tablets of the missing photo)
Thanks to Bruce Fenstermaker and Max Ammer for additional information
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