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43rd BG 1943
Janice Olson 1992
Justin Taylan 2007
Lt. Howard G. Eberly, O-661764 (MIA / KIA, BR) OR
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Edgar L. Townsend, Jr., O-799101 (MIA / KIA, BR) NY
Navigator 2nd Lt. George L. Stacy, O-804891 (MIA / KIA, BR) PA
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Charles E. Ranker, O-738729 (MIA / KIA, BR) OH
Engineer TSgt Delmar Dotson, 6941704 (MIA / KIA, BR) VA
Assist Engineer Sgt Jennings B. Messer, 15040321 (MIA / KIA, BR) WV
Radio Sgt Joseph Ferraiolo, 11041353 (MIA / KIA, BR) CT
Gunner SSgt Theodore J. McCartney, 33290785 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Gunner SSgt Watson C. Hall, 34389661 (MIA / KIA, BR) SC
Ball Turret Sgt Arthur Jingozian, 31036871 (MIA / KIA, BR) MA
Tail Gunner / Photo TSgt Peter S. Owens, 12023894 (MIA / KIA, BR) NY
Crashed September 15, 1943
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 3237. On August 4, 1942 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17F-25-BO Flying Fortress serial number 41-24552. Ferried overseas via Hawaii arriving in Australia during November 1942.
During November 1942 assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 65th Bombardment Squadron. Assigned to pilot 1st Lt. Howard G. Eberly with crew chief Gombert. Nicknamed "Listen Here Tojo!" painted in yellow with the nose art of a figure gremlin holding a blunderbuss rifle, wearing red shorts and yellow gloves on the right side of the nose. Also known as "552" for the last three digits of the serial number.
Below the co-pilot's window was a scoreboard that by early 1943 had 48 bombs indicating missions flown (in three rows of 20, 20 and 8 bomb marks painted in yellow) plus yellow silhouettes of ships claimed as sunk and yellow silhouettes of aircraft with rising sun markings on the wings for enemy aircraft claimed as shot down.
Possibly, this B-17's first combat mission was November 22, 1942 against Lae.
On July 29, 1943 during an attempted take off from 7 Mile Drome piloted by 1st Lt. Hal C. Winfrey armed with ten 100 pound bombs on a mission against Salamaua and Kela Point. During take off, the airspeed indicator failed and Winfrey cut the throttles and applied the breaks but the bomber slid into vegetation at the end of the runway damaging both wings, tires and the ball turret. None of the crew were injured and the bombs did not detonate during the accident.
When lost, engines R-1820-97 serial numbers 42-77913, 41-24798, 42-88937 and 42-78654. Aboard were eleven .50 caliber machine guns plus two .30 caliber machine guns. Weapon serial numbers are listed in Missing Air Crew Report 648 (MACR 648).
On September 15, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Howard G. Eberly armed with 1,000 pound bombs between 8:00am to 9:00am as one of twelve B-17s from the 63rd Bombardment Squadron and 65th Bombardment Squadron on a mission to bomb Lae. This B-17 was flying on the left wing of the second element led Major Cromer with B-17E 41-2472 pilot 1st Lt. McDonnell on the right wing. On take off, the weather was reported as high thin stratus clouds with base about 15,000' and broken cumulus clouds with base at 8,000' with good visibility.
Inbound, the formation encountered bad weather including a solid overcast and poor visibility. Over the target, poor visibility obscured the ground compelling three bombers in the formation not to release their bombs because Australian Army troops in the same vicinity. Three of the B-17s never spotted the target due to clouds and did not release their bombs. Between 10:20am to 10:41am the formation experienced inaccurate anti-aircraft fire before the formation bombed the Chinatown area near Lae.
During the return flight, this element climbed to 11,500' to cross the mountains and entered a dense thunderstorm roughly ten miles southwest of Wau. Entering the storm at 11:15am, Major Cromer and and 1st Lt. Gibbs observed this B-17 climb up and away. When the element exited the storm 30 seconds later this bomber was gone and did not respond to radio calls. When it failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). This was the last B-17 Flying Fortress lost on a combat mission in the Pacific.
When this B-17 was reported as missing, 1st Lt. John Gibbs was placed in charge of the search and took off from 7 Mile Drome at 4:24pm on the first search mission but failed to find any trace and returned with nil sightings of their search along the Francisco River inland from Salamaua before returning to land at Dobodura at 7:45pm. During the flight, they did observe two lights that were unrelated: the first was a stationary light along the Francisco River and the second was a blinking light on the Markham River between Lake Wanum and Labu Island.
On September 16, 1943 1st Lt. John Gibbs departed Doboudra at 8:40am on another search mission over the Wau Valley flying up to the coast and south into the mountains with nil sightings and landed at 7 Mile Drome at 11:02am.
In fact, this B-17 crashed at at roughly Lat 7.27 Long 146. into a mountainside at an elevation of 8,300' in the Hidden Valley near the Black Cat Pass roughly 10-13 miles southwest of Wau.
The crash site was known to locals in the area. In October 1992 David Beebe visited the crash site and recovered a wrist identification bracelet with the name "Howard G. Eberly " inscribed in it. Learning of the discovery and bracelet, Richard Leahy informed Janice Olson.
In March 1993, Janice Olson flew by helicopter to the area and climbed the mountainside to visit the crash site. She observed human remains and identified the wreckage as this B-17. She was also able to return the identification bracelet to the pilot's widow, Billie Jean Haley.
Recovery of Remains
During August to September 1993 a team from Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI) conducted a recovery mission at the crash site and recovered the remains of the crew. They designated the site as CILHI number 0173-93 and S&R number 113CL94. Afterwards, the site was declared closed. Five years later, in 1998 the Department of Defense (DoD) announced the crew were identified.
The entire crew was declared dead on the day of the mission. All were memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
After the 1998 identification, the entire crew was buried in a group burial at Arlington National Cemetery at section 60 plots 7814-7821. Eight of the crew had individual markers. Dotson at section 60 site 7813. Jingozian at section 60 site 7814. Messer at section 60 site 7815. McCartney at section 60 site 7816. Owens at section 60 site 7817. Stacy at section 60 site 7818. Townsend at section 60 site 7819. Ferraiolo section 60 site 7821.
Eberly earned the Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Mountain View Cemetery in Oregon City, OR at section J, block 1, lot 1, grave E. Previously, Eberly survived the March 16, 1943 ditching of B-17F "Hell From Heaven Men" 41-24424.
During the 1983 CILHI investigation at the crash site, PNG Museum modern history director Bruce Hoy recovered a portion of the right side of the nose with a fragment of the nickname and a portion of the nose art figurine became part of the PNG Museum in storage in at the modern history branch.
Peter Owen (nephew of Peter S. Owens)
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Howard G. Eberly
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Edgar L. Townsend, Jr.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Charles E. Ranker
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Jennings B. Messer
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Joseph Ferraiolo
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Theodore J. McCartney
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Watson C. Hall
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Arthur Jingozian
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Peter S. Owens
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17F-25-BO Flying Fortress 41-24552
"24552 (43rd BG, 65th BS, *Listen Here, Tojo*) MIA Sep 15, 1943 after mission to Lae, Papua New Guinea. MACR 648 Wreckage found in 1992."
Missing Air Crew Report 648 (MACR 648) created September 17, 1943
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17F Flying Fortress 41-24552
Pride of Seattle page 14, 18
Fortress Against the Sun pages 365-366, 392
Tribute to a World War II Tail Gunner by Peter Owen (via Wayback Machine September 14, 2005)
Australian Military History "Listen Here Tojo" by Brice Hoy Number 1, April-May 1994
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Howard G. Eberly "remains have been recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Edgar L. Townsend Jr. "remains have been recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George L. Stacy "remains have been recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles E. Ranker "remains have been recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Delmar Dotson "remains have been recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Jennings B. Messer "remains have been recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joseph Ferraiolo "remains have been recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Theodore J. McCartney "remains have been recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Watson C. Hall "remains have been recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Arthur Jingozian "remains have been recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Peter S. Owens "remains have been recovered"
FindAGrave - 1Lt Howard G Eberly (tablets of the missing photo, photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Howard C. Eberly (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Howard George "Junior & Eb" Eberly (photo, obituary, memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Lieut Edgar L. Townsend (grave photos)
FindAGrave - 2Lt George L Stacy (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut George L. Stacy (grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Charles E Ranker (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Lieut Charles E. Ranker (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Delmar Dotson (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Jennings B Messer (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Jennings B. Messer (photo, group burial)
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume 1 pages 175 (photo ops board "552"), 250, 278-279, 322, 328, 344, 381, 396 (index)
Thanks to Bruce Hoy and Janice Olson for additional information
Sept 15, 1943
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