Pacific Wrecks
Pacific Wrecks    
  Missing In Action (MIA) Prisoners Of War (POW) Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)  
Chronology Locations Aircraft Ships Submit Info How You Can Help Donate
 
  B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-2434  
USAAF
5th AF
19th BG
30th BS

Former Assignments
7th BG
88th BS

Click For Enlargement
USAAF December 1941
or January 1942
Pilot  Major Dean C. "Pinky" Hoevet, O-22248 19th BG, 30th BS (MIA / KIA) Fairfield, NB
Passenger  Sgt Coy Adams, 6882642 (KIA, BR) Baileysville, WV
Passenger  T/Sgt Stephen A. Androkovich, 6881199 19th BG, 30th BS (MIA / KIA) PA
Passenger  2nd Lt William T. Chesser, O-423468 19th BG, 30th BS (MIA / KIA) TX
Passenger  1st Lt. Paul M. Lindsey, O-406701 (MIA / KIA) Canon City, CO
Passenger  T/Sgt Hermon T. Randall, 69246702 (KIA, BR) GA
Passenger  2nd Lt Arthur F. Sorrell, O-426202 19th BG, 30th BS (MIA / KIA) NY
Passenger  2nd Lt Maxwell D. Stone, O-426204 19th BG, 30th BS (MIA / KIA) MA
Passenger  1st Lt George W. Hammersmith, O-364669 450th Ordnance Company (KIA, BR)
Passenger  S/Sgt Bernard Merker, 32110191 (KIA, BR) New York, NY
Passenger  T/Sgt Ralph Tarod, 35032421 450th Ordnance Company (KIA, BR) Columbus, OH
Crashed  August 16, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. On November 29, 1941 delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2434. On November 30, 1941 took off from Boeing Field piloted by Frederick Eaton and flown to Salt Lake City. Assigned to 7th Bombardment Group (7th BG), 88th Reconaissance Squadron (88th RS).

Wartime History
On December 6, 1941 took off piloted by 1st Lt. David G. Rawls as part of an unarmed ferry flight that departed Hamilton Field bound for Hickam Field. On the morning of December 7, 1941 incoming Japanese aircraft detected on radar were dismissed as the expected flight of B-17s. The formation of B-17s arrived during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu.

This B-17 was fired on by U.S. Navy anti-aircraft guns and attempted to land at Hickam Field, then Wheeler Field, but both were burning from the attack. Finally, the bomber landed at Hickam Field but was strafed by an A6M2 Zero while landing.  On the ground the crew fled the B-17 while Zeros continued to strafed, but none were wounded. One of the crew fired his pistol at the strafing fighters.

Afterwards, this B-17 flew reconnaissance over the Pacific Ocean around Hawaii. On February 8, 1942 departs Hickam Field on a ferry flight across the Pacific arrives Garbutt Field at Townsville on February 19, 1942. Assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG), 30th Bombardment Squadron (30th BS). No known nose art or nickname. Possibly, assigned to the 28th Bombardment Squadron (28th BS).

On February 22, 1942 in the evening while taxiing at Garbutt Field at Townsville the left wing tip of this bomber hit B-17E 41-241 damaging its right wing and no. 4 engine.  As a result, both bombers were unable to participate in the first American bombing mission against Rabaul. This plane got a replacement wing tip from B-17E 41-2416 and by the next day was returned to flying condition.

On March 13, 1942 participated in a bombing mission against Rabaul. Over the target, this bomber claimed one Zero.

On March 16, 1942, this B-17 piloted by Major Richard H. Carmichael was to be the bomber that would evacuate General Douglas MacArthur from Del Monte Airfield, but the engines were unable to start due to mechanical problems. After the three B-17s arrived, Charmichael flew MacArthur on last leg of journey from Bachelor Field southward where he boarded a train.

On June 2, 1942 took off piloted by Frederick Eaton and Tower on a bombing mission. During the mission gunners claimed two Zeros south of Lae and the bomber was hit by bullets but nobody aboard was injured. Due to a Japanese air raid, this bomber was unable to land at Horn Island Airfield and instead landing at Coen Airfield. During the landing, the tail wheel assembly was damaged. Afterwards, Captain Spieth flew in replacement tail wheel assembly, and it took two days to clear a runway, then Spieth flew it back to Garbutt Field at Townsville.

Mission History
On August 16, 1942 took off piloted by 1st Lt. Dean C. Hoevet on flight to tests a new flare dropping mechanism. Aboard were several passengers to test the mechanism. During the flight, the mechanism malfunctioned and a flare exploded inside the bomber and caused it to crash into the sea and exploded on impact roughly a mile off Yorkeys Knob north of Cairns.

Recovery of Remains
Many of the bodies were not recovered including Hoevet.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Afterwards, Mareeba Airfield was renamed "Hoevet Field" in honor of the pilot, Major Dean C. Hoevet.

The six missing crew: Hoevet, Androkovich, Lindsey, Sorrell, Stone and Chesser remain Missing In Action (MIA). All six are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Hoevet earned the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.

Androkovich earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Air Medal.

Chesser earned the Silver Star and Air Medal.

Lindsey earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Soldier's Medal. He also has a memorial marker at Evergreen Cemetery in Braymer, Missouri. After his death, his community raised $300,000 to purchase a bomber nicknamed "Royal Gorge No. 1" in his honor.

Sorrell earned the Air Medal.

Stone earned the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and Air Medal.

After the crash, the remains of five of the crew: Merker, Tarod, Hammersmith, Randall and Adams were recovered and buried at Townsville US Cemetery on August 23, 1942. On August 6, 1945, they were all reburied at Ipswich Cemetery (USAF Cemetery Brisbane). Postwar, these remains were transported to the United States for permanent burial. Four of the crew are buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). Adams at A 133 Randall at B 503. Hammersmith at B 1101. Tarod at C 1262.

Merker is buried at the United Hebrew Cemetery in Richmond on Staten Island, NY.

References
Some sources incorrectly state the date of the crash as August 17, 1942
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2434
"2434 delivered Salt Lake SAD Nov 30, 1941. Assigned to 7th BG, 88th RS. Was one of the planes that arrived over Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941. Was able to land at Hickam Field."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Dean C. Hoevet
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Stephen A. Androkovich
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William T. Chesser
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Paul M. Lindsey
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Arthur F. Sorrell
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Maxwell D. Stone
FindAGrave - Maj Dean Carol "Pinky" Hoevet (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Coy Adams (photos, grave photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Stephen Andrew Androkovich (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt William T Chesser (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Paul Marion Lindsey (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Paul Marion Lindsey
(memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - TT Hermon T Randall (grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Arthur Francis Sorrell (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Maxwell D Stone (photos, obituary, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt George William Hammersmith (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Bernard Merker (grave)
FindAGrave - Sgt Ralph Tarod (grave photo)
Fortress Against The Sun (2001) pages 14, 19, 153, 210, 249, 428
Echoes From an Eagle (2016) page 55-56, 117
Oz@War - 16 August 1942 crash of B-17 Flying Fortress into the sea near Cairns

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

Last Updated
July 8, 2021

 

Tech Info
B-17

MIA
MIA
6 Missing
  Discussion Forum Daily Updates Reviews Museums Interviews & Oral Histories  
 
Pacific Wrecks Inc. All rights reserved.
Donate Now Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram