|Pilot 2nd Lt John E. Titus, O-435715 (MIA / KIA) IA
Observer Major Thomas N. Charles, O-277364 C. O., 403rd BS (MIA / KIA) FL
Crew 2nd Lt Randall O. Cotton, O-726194 (MIA / KIA) TX
Crew 2nd Lt John E. Titus, O-435715 (MIA / KIA) IA
Crew 2nd Lt Harry O. Davis, Jr., O-725056 (MIA / KIA) PA
Crew 2nd Lt James R. Ozanne, Jr., O-726014 (MIA / KIA) IL
Crew S/Sgt Merle L. Hartburg, 12024069 (MIA / KIA) NY
Crew Sgt Omar B. Benson, 18060281 (MIA / KIA) TX
Crew Sgt Alvin D. Futhey, 18052685 (MIA / KIA) OK
Crew Sgt Charles Goldsmith, 13046011 (MIA / KIA) PA
Crew Cpl Jay C. Asher, 17024475 (MIA / KIA) WY
Crew Cpl Richard J. Evans, 17038314 (MIA / KIA) NE
MIA November 29, 1942
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army on August 1, 1942. Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 403rd Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
On November 29, 1942 took off from Turnbull Airfield near Milne Bay at 11:45 piloted by Titus on a mission to shadow a Japanese convoy of four destroyers sent to reinforce Buna, that had been bombed earlier in the day. At 5:30pm, this B-17 radioed that it had made contact with the convoy near Umboi Island (Rooke, Rook) in the Vitiaz Straight. This was the last contact with the B-17, and it failed to return from the mission. The entire crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
Officially, the entire crew was declared dead on January 7, 1946. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. After the loss, the 2nd Lieutenants aboard were posthumously promoted to 1st Lieutenants.
Don Dreyer (nephew of Jay C. Asher)
Steve Edwards adds:
"They put a stone up for him in the vet section of the cemetery in Kearney, NE. I’m getting the personal letters located. It was interesting that back when his Mom was still alive, in her eighties, I had a keen interest to know more about him because it was the end of that family line. Everyone in her family said she didn’t want to talk about it and had shunned the thought. Nothing could have been father from the truth, she retrieved all his letters and the MIA records, talked at length and that’s how I, at least, had a bit of working knowledge. The letter’s are classic, and read like a 1940’s movie script. You really got the feel for the time, his commitment, and his frustration with the guys at home that criticized the war effort then and how he chastised them for big talk and no action."
No Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) was generated for this loss
43rd Bomb Group History microfilm, frame 244
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17F Flying Fortress 41-24546
Pride of Seattle page 14
Fortress Against The Sun page 300
Tuluvu's Air War, Chapter I by Richard Dunn
Thanks to Steve Birdsall for additional information
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February 14, 2020