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|Pilot Lt. Ralph K. De Loach, O-440981 (rescued) St. Petersburg, FL
Co-Pilot Lt Joseph H. Moore, O-426411 (rescued) Aliquippa, PA
Navigator Lt Charles H. Shaver, O-797085 (rescued) Lee, MA
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Herman J. Dias, O-729959 (rescued) San Francisco, CA
Engineer SSgt Delbert C. Smith, 39166314 (WIA) Anahiem, CA
Radio TSgt George Prezioso, 12009388 (rescued) Belleville, NJ
Ball Turret Joseph F. Wilson, 13052496 (rescued) Philadelphia, PA
Waist Gunner Private Daniel Clinton, 11037309 (rescued) Brockton, MA
Waist Gunner Cpl Jim Peterson, 17043264 (rescued) Mason City, IA
Tail Gunner SSgt Paul J. Blasewitz, 12028587 (rescued) AR
Ditched July 11, 1943
Built by Boeing at Seattle at the cost of $314,109. Constructors Number 3206. On July 23, 1943 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAF). This B-17 was flown to Lowry Field for outfitting then to Hamilton Field.
On August 30, 1942 this B-17 took off from Hamilton Field pilot by Lt. William O'Brien on a ferry flight via Hickam then across the Pacific to Australia.
On September 7, 1943 assigned to 43rd Bombardment Group, 63rd Bombardment Squadron. Assigned to pilot Captain Kenneth D. McCullar with crew chief was DeAngelis. McCullar nicknamed the bomber "Black Jack" because the serial number ended in "21". The right side of the nose had the nose art of two playing cards: a jack and ace that equal 21 in the card game of blackjack.
During late 1943, this B-17 was field modified by McCullar with an extra .50 caliber machine gun rigged into the nose to fire forward that was triggered from the pilot's control yoke.
On November 24, 1942 took off piloted by Captain McCullar on a mission against Japanese destroyers in the Huon Gulf. On the first bomb run, this B-17 performed a skip bombing attack from 200' with bombs impacting off the stern of Hayashio. Aboard this B-17, anti-aircraft fire hit ammunition and started a fire in the tail section that was successfully extinguished. On the second bomb run, this B-17 was hit again and three crew were injured. On the third run the left outboard engine was hit and the engine did not feather and controls damaged. McCullar made two more attacks from higher altitude and the right outboard engine failed due to a hit in the fuel system. Out of bombs, they departed. On the return flight the damaged left engine's propeller broke off and spun off. Loosing altitude, the crew jettisoned all equipment possible and managed to restart the right engine and managed to climb over the Owen Stanley Mountains back to Port Moresby. Later that night, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Beaufort crews reported a destroyer sinking. During the B-17 attacks, Hayashio was hit and later scuttled.
After being repaired from damaged sustained on this mission, assigned to McCullar's co-pilot Lt. Harry Staley, until he completed his tour of duty. Staley added to the left side of the nose the nickname "The Joker's Wild" with the nose art of a large joker playing card above the pitot tube.
Returning, this B-17 was caught in a violent storm, with the two engines on the right wing continuing to malfunction. The pilots could not hold a straight course and got lost and ran low on fuel. Since co-pilot Moore had previously ditched a B-17, DeLoach handed the controls over to him. The B-17 ditched into the sea off Cape Vogel near Kakau and the Makau Mission at Boga Boga.
Fates of the Crew
Nearby, Australian Coastwatcher Eric Foster observed the bomber sent a radio message to Milne Bay to notify air-sea rescue about the ditching and then went to Boga Boga where the crew had already been taken ashore by natives.
Afterwards, the unhurt crew members got two weeks leave in Sydney before returning to combat duties. Afterwards, the crew earned awarded awards for their role on the July 11, 1943 mission. DeLoach and Moore earned the Silver Star. The other eight Blasewitz, Clinton, Dias, Peterson, Prezioso, Shaver, Smith and Wilson earned the Air Medal for this mission.
Steve Birdsall adds:
On December 27, 1986 discovered by SCUBA diver Rodney Pearce. also present were David Pennefather and Bruce Johnson. Nearly intact, the nose is torn and crumpled from impacting the seafloor nose first. Aside from the two waist guns and radio transmitters, jettisoned prior to ditching, all other weapons and gear were still aboard.
Paul Blasewitz Account
Black Jack's Last Mission
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