|Pilot 1st Lt. Arthur L. McMullan, O-789192 (MIA / KIA) OH
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Howard G. Eberly, O-662764 (survived, later MIA / KIA Sept 15, 1943) Oregon City, OR
Navigator 2nd Lt. Mac Jilton Sargent, O-733470 (MIA / KIA) OH
Radio S/Sgt Robert L. Freeman, 37066408 (survived, MIA / KIA) Fort Smith, AR
Gunner Sgt. Wayne G. Sprecher, 13030648 (MIA / KIA) Gettysburg, PA
Gunner Cpl. Milburn J. Glanville, 19028619 (MIA / KIA) Wright County, IA
Gunner Pfc Hermann Bender, 12032743 (MIA / KIA) NY
Gunner Pvt James M. Grahl, 14049316 (MIA / KIA) SC
Passenger 2nd Lt. John M. Dawson, O-724145 (survived)
Ditched March 16, 1943 at 2:30am
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 3109. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17F-5-BO Flying Fortress serial number 41-24424. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 19th Bombardment Group, 28th Bombardment Squadron. Assigned to Captain Richard Ezzard. Nicknamed "Hell From Heaven Men" (in quotes) in yellow on the right side of the nose.
Steve Birdsall adds:
"[The crew photo depicts] Richard Ezzard crew, and I'm currently in touch with an Australian navigator who flew a few missions with them. I'd also be grateful for any contact with the Glenn Richards family - I'm particularly interested to know if he was awarded a Silver Star. The whole crew of this B-17, including the Australian navigator, were promised a Silver Star for their last mission in November 1942. But after a week's leave in Sydney the Americans went home and the Australian was ordered back to Townsville for reassignment, and never heard any more about the medal."
On October 5, 1942 one of nine B-17s from the 28th Bombardment Squadron led by Major Elbert "Butch" Helton that took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby at 1:50am on a bombing mission against Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul. Flying in bad weather, six of the B-17s including this bomber aborted the mission and returned to base.
On November 21, 1942 took off on a five hour mission against two destroyers. Crew members included Frank Hohmann from Jay Rousek's crew shows "a five-hour mission in 41-24424 on 11-21-42 against 2 Destroyers, lost 1 B17 Lt Frost' [41-2536]."
In November 1942, assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 65th Bombardment Squadron. During January 1943 transfered to the 64th Bombardment Squadron. Assigned to pilot 1st Lt. Arthur L. McMullan and continued to fly combat missions until lost in the middle of March 1943.
On March 15, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Arthur L. McMullan on a mission over Wewak. Facing bad weather and low on fuel, this B-17 ditched at sea at approximately 15-20 miles north of Buna at roughly 2:30am on March 16, 1943.
Fates of the Crew
It is presumed that six of the crew went down in the aircraft after the ditching. Three survived the ditching and attempted to swim ashore. Freeman allowed the tide take him to shore but was never seen again.
Two of the crew, Dawson and Eberly were able to swim ashore after 13 hours at sea and were later rescued. After returning to duty. Later, Eberly went Missing In Action (MIA) on September 15, 1943 piloting B-17F "Listen Here Tojo!" 41-24552.
The six missing crew members were officially declared dead on March 16, 1943. Bender was officially declared dead on July 16, 1943. All are memorialized on the tablets of the mission at Manila American Cemetery.
Eberly went went Missing In Action (MIA) on September 15, 1943 piloting B-17F "Listen Here Tojo!" 41-24552. He earned the Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, postumously. After his remains were recovered he was burial at Arlington National Cemetery in a group burial at section 60 plots 7814-7821. He also has a memorial marker at Mountain View Cemetery in Oregon City, OR at section J, block 1, lot 1, grave E.
Arthur McMullan, Jr (son of pilot) adds:
"[McMullan] returned to the US in November
of 1942, less than four months before his plane ran out of gas. I remember him telling me that he always felt that he had a
greater chance of crashing from lack of fuel than from being shot down."
World War II Army Enlistment Records - Howard G. Eberly
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17F-5-BO Flying Fortress 41-24424
"24424 to 28th BS, 19th BG, transferred to 64th BS, 43rd. BG. Ditched at sea returning from Wewak in bad weather Mar 15, 1943. Only two crewmen survived."
Missing Air Crew Report 15667 (MACR 15667)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17F Flying Fortress 41-24424
Pride of Seattle page 8
Flightpath August-October 2012 "Rabaul October" by Steve Birdsall page 54
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Arthur L. McMullan
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Howard G. Eberly
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Mac Jilton Sargent
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert L. Freeman
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Wayne G. Sprecher
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Milburn J. Glanville
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Hermann Bender
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James M. Grahl
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John M. Dawson
FindAGrave - 1Lt Arthur L Mcmullan (tablets of the missing)
Lieut Howard C. Eberly (group burial photo, photo)
FindAGrave - Howard George "Junior & Eb" Eberly (photo, obituary, memorial marker)
1Lt Howard G Eberly (tablets of the missing photo, photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Mac Jilton Sargent (tablets of the missing, photo)
SSgt Robert Lee Freeman (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Wayne G Sprecher (obituary, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Corp Milburn Jerome Glanville (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - PFC Hermann Bender (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Pvt James M Grahl (tablets of the missing)
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume 1 pages 153, 278, 315, 327-328, 344, 394 (index)
Thanks to Steve Birdsall and Mark Lewis for additional information
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June 3, 2020