|Pilot 1st Lt James R. Harp, O-433838 5th BG, 31st BS (MIA / KIA) OK
Co-Pilot 1st Lt Omar D. Thomas, O-433930 5th BG, 394th BS (MIA / KIA) WV
Crew 1st Lt Thornton H. Lewis, 0-432384 (MIA / KIA) CA
Crew TSgt Elwood E. Miller, 6940866 (MIA / KIA) PA
Crew TSgt Charles M. Noble, 6993807 (MIA / KIA) MD
Crew SSgt Howard L. Krantz, 6978501 (MIA / KIA) DE
Crew Cpl Sanford S. Caviness, 17030232 (MIA / KIA) MO
Crew Cpl Walter E. Stephanik, 13011049 (MIA / KIA) PA
Crew Pfc Henry Majeski, 7025106 (MIA / KIA) Philadelphia, PA
MIA December 28, 1942
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2239. On November 26, 1941 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2428 to Salt Lake City then to Sacamento Air Depot (SAD).
Assigned to the 11th Bombardment Group, 98th Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
During late May 1942 flown from Hickam Field to Midway Airfield in anticipation of the Battle of Midway.
On June 4, 1942 took off from Midway Airfield on Eastern Island at 4:05am piloted by Lt. Jack Whidden with tail gunner Sgt Frank Plunkett on a mission against to bomb the Japanese fleet.
Maury Hurt (nephew of Frank Plunkett)
"Sgt Frank Plunkett, served as a B-17 tail gunner, and flew in the Battle of Midway (with pilot Lt. Jack Whidden on B-17E 41-2428) prior to being transferred in August 1942 to the 5th AF, 19th BG, 30th. One of the rewards of my research was that I was able to find Lt. Jack Whidden, who retired as a colonel and is alive and well at 87. He remembers Sgt Plunkett well, as Plunkett was one of the members of his first crew in 1941-42. Col Whidden is the only person I've ever been able to talk with who knew him in the service. His memory is no less than incredible, and he loves to talk about 'the old days'."
Afterwards, flown across the Pacific to Espiritu Santo. Assigned to the 42nd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Ole Sh'asta" with quotes around 'Shasta' with a small star after the last letter painted on the right side of the forward nose in block letters. No known nose art.
On December 28, 1942 took off from Espiritu Santo piloted by 1st Lt James R. Harp with co-pilot 1st Lt Omar D. Thomas on a mission over the northern Solomon Islands. The pilot and co-pilot were assigned to the 5th Bombardment Group, while the rest of the crew were from the 11th Bombardment Group, 42nd Bombardment Squadron. This B-17 reportedly crashed in sea off Choiseul Island. When this bomber failed to return, it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Ewan Stevenson adds:
"Yes, the Colonel [Edward M. Lavin] and myself visited Choiseul in November 2011 and I surveyed a number of wrecks in the southern part with the Col. tagging along. I really admire Colonel Lavin he is 60 odd years in age but he had the right exploratory spirit and we had a lot of fun. We did not find the particular B-17 41-2428. We were shown were it went in by eyewitness Reverend Bosetto and I GPS recorded the position but it is out in the slot and way too deep. We had an emotional ceremony over the site. It provided the colonel some peace."
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Noble also has a memorial marker at Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville, FL at section A.
Edward M. Lavin (nephew of Henry Majeski)
"My uncle PFC Henry Majeski was a machine gunner aboard a B-17 which was shot down December 28, 1942 off the northwest coast of Choiseul Island, the Solomons, most likely pretty close to shore since one body washed up. The rest of the crew and the aircraft have never been found."
Maury Hurt (nephew of Frank Plunkett)
"Sgt Frank Plunkett, served as a B-17 tail gunner, and flew in the Battle of Midway (with pilot Lt. Jack Whidden on B-17E 41-2428)."
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2428
"2428 ("Ol' Shasta") delivered to Salt Lake SAD Nov 26, 1941; transferred to 11BG/98BS at Hickam-Clarke [sic], HI Oct 26, 1942. MIA Dec 28, 1942."
Missing Air Crew Report 16271 (MACR 16271) was created retroactively and does not note bomber serial number
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James R. Harp
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Omar D. Thomas
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Thornton H. Lewis
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Elwood E. Miller
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles M. Noble
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Howard L. Krantz
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Sanford S. Caviness
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Walter E. Stephanik
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Henry Majeski
1Lt James R Harp (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Omar D Thomas (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Thornton H Lewis (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - TSgt Elwood E Miller (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - TSgt Charles M Noble (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Charles MacIntosh Noble, III (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Howard Linwood Krantz (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Sanford Sherwood Caviness (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Corp Walter E Stephanik (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - PFC Henry Majeski (tablets of the missing photo)
Fortress Against The Sun pages 319, 384
Grey Geese Calling page 319
Edward M. Lavin, Maury Hurt and Ewan Stevenson for additional information.
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February 14, 2020