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Brian Bennett 1986
Lt. Daniel W. Fagen, O-398681 (MIA / KIA, BR) Oklahoma City, OK
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Robert R. Meyer, Jr., O-416325 (MIA / KIA, BR) AL
Navigator 2nd Lt. Ralph Howard, O-431678 (MIA / KIA, BR) CA
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Jim Sam Grant, O-419265 (MIA / KIA, BR) AR
Crew Sgt Joe A. Carter, 6579316 (MIA / KIA, BR) La Jolla, CA
Gunner Sgt Edward L. Hargrove, 6580643 (MIA / KIA, BR) Imperial County, CA
Gunner Sgt. Paul A. Reimer, 6580519 (MIA / KIA, BR) CA
Gunner Sgt. Elton J. Rose, 6241916 (MIA / KIA, BR) CA
Crashed April 25, 1942 at 4:46am
During November 1941, Fagen, Meyer, Howard, Hargrove and Rose flew in another B-17 Flying Fortress on a ferry flight from from Hickam Field across the Pacific via Rabaul to the Philippines. Reportedly, Grant had dream in 1942 about the name "Owen Stanley Mountains". Fagen was the great-great-great-grandson of Blue Jacket, the last War Chief of the Shawnee Indians in the Northwest Territory. His maternal grandparents were Willis George Bluejacket and Elizabeth Jane "Eliza" Blackfeather.
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2316. This was the first B-17E built with a Sperry ball turret. On January 14, 1942 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2505.
Assigned to the 7th Bombardment Group (7th), 9th Bombardment Squadron (9th BS). No known nose art or nickname. Flown from the United States via the Africa Route to Java. Afterwards, flown to Australia.
On February 10, 1942 assigned to the 5th Air Force, 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG), 30th Bombardment Squadron (30th BS). No known nose art or nickname.
On April 24, 1942 took off took off from Cloncurry Airfield piloted by 1st Lt. Daniel W. Fagen as one of four B-17s led by Major Montgomery mission that first landed at Garbutt Airfield at Townsville for a briefing and to have bombs loaded. In the middle of the afternoon, took off from Garbutt Airfield and flown northward landing at 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby in the early evening to avoid Japanese air raids with a mission planned early the next morning.
On April 25, 1942 at 3:30am took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby on a bombing mission against Rabaul. After take off, this bomber was heard circling Port Moresby before heading away. When this bomber failed to return from the mission it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). In fact, this B-17 cashed into the southeastern upper slopes of Mount Obree at an elevation of roughly 9,000'.
During November 1942 while the searching for C-47 "Flying Dutchman" 41-18564, this B-17 was seen from air, but identity of wreckage was not determined. The aircraft was described as complete from the trailing edge of the wing to the tail.
After the loss of this B-17 the Meyer family offered a reward of one million dollars to find bomber, but were discouraged by U. S. Army's Missing Air Crew Report 15500 that presumed this B-17 was lost over the Coral Sea.
During March 1961, the wreck was again spotted from the air during a search for missing Piaggio P.166 "Mount Clarence" VH-PAU.
This B-17 cashed into the southeastern upper slopes of Mount Obree at an elevation of roughly 9,000' killing the entire crew on impact.
On September 2, 1961 a team from U. S. Army consisting of Lt. Joseph Wheeler and Sergeant Henry Paolillo with Australian Patrol Officer (Kiap) David Marsh trekked to the aircraft crash sites reported during the search for Piaggio P.166 "Mount Clarence" VH-PAU. Arriving at this aircraft, the team identified it 41-2505 based off the tail serial number that was still clearly visible. Marsh who gave erroneous information that the plane was associated with a B-17 which a war correspondent had bailed out. The team incorrectly concluded the crew bailed out and survived.
During 1984, Bruce Hoy modern history curator from the PNG Museum convinced U.S. Army CILHI that this crash site was worthy of another investigation. With the assistance of Saunom villagers, a helicopter pad was cleared on a ridge above the wreck at an elevation of 11,000'. On June 15, 1986 Bruce Hoy landed at the pad and walked to the crash site to reconfirm the site.
Recovery of Remains
On July 5, 1986 a team from U.S. Army CILHI flew by helicopter to the helipad and trekked to the crash site with an eight man team, including Bruce Hoy PNG Museum. After establishing a camp, the team began clearing the site and mapping the locations of the various parts of the aircraft. By early afternoon, the first portions of remains had been located. Three days were spent in searching the area, during which the remains of four others were located.
Between June 19, 1987 to July 12, 1987 a second team from U.S. Army CILHI flew to the crash site and performed a recovery of the remains and located the rest of the crew when the cockpit section was found in the bed of a small stream. Many personal effects were also recovered, including wallets, a camera with spare lenses, knives from Mindanao, and the remains of wrist watches. No dog tags were found. The cockpit clock was stopped at 04:46, confirming the precise time of the crash.
The left waist gun .50 caliber machine gun was recovered from the aircraft and the U.S. Army CILHI team member with Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experience field stripped the weapon and one night and fired the gun over a ridge using ammunition found at the site. Later, this machine gun was flown out aboard a helicopter and donated to the PNG War Museum.
During 1990, the entire crew was officially identified by the Department of Defense (DoD). Three of the crew: Fagen, Hargrove and Reimer could not be individually identified.
The entire crew was officially declared dead April 26, 1943. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
On November 15, 1990 the entire crew were buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Five of the crew were buried individually. Carter at section 60 site 4067. Rose at section 60 site 4068. Meyer at section 60 site 4069. Howard at section 60 site 4070. Grant at section 60 site 4071. Fagen, Hargrove and Reimer were buried in a group burial at section 60 site 4072.
Meyer also is memorialized at the Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, AL on the war memorial.
Howard also has a memorial marker at Golden Gate National Cemetery at section MA site 19.
Grant also has a memorial marker at Grants Chapel Cemetery in Bonnerdale, AR.
Mrs Fagen-Plover (widow of Daniel W. Fagen who remarried after his death)
Douglas Wilcox (nephew of Jim Grant)
"I was present along with other family members at Arlington National Cemetery in the internment of the crew that perished."
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2505
"2505 delivered Portland Jan 14, 1942. First E-model with Sperry ball turret. Assigned to 7th BG, 9th BS Java. Transferred to 19th BG, 30th BS Feb 10, 1942. Crashed into Mt Obree in New Guinea Apr 25, 1942. 8 KIA. MACR 15500. Wreck discovered in 1986."
Missing Air Crew Report 15500 (MACR 15500) created retroactively circa 1945-1946, lists loss location as over the "Coral Sea" incorrectly.
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2505
Bruce Hoy Diary October 31, 1987 (reference to coins recovered from 41-2505)
Paradise Magazine "Fortress on Mt. Obree" by Bruce Hoy via Wayback Machine June 21, 2006
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Daniel W. Fagen '"remains recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert R. Meyer, Jr. '"remains recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ralph Howard '"remains recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Jim S. Grant '"remains recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joe A. Carter '"remains recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Edward L. Hargrove '"remains recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Paul A. Reimer '"remains recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Elton J. Rose '"remains recovered"
FindAGrave - 1Lt Daniel White Fagen (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1LT Daniel White Fagen (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Robert R Meyer, Jr (tablets of the missing, war memorial)
FindAGrave - 2LT Robert R Meyer, Jr (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Ralph Howard (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Lieut Ralph Howard (Golden Gate National Cemetery memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Ralph Howard (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Jim Sam Grant (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Jim Sam Grant (Grants Chapel Cemetery memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Jim S Grant (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Joe A Carter (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Joe A Carter (Arlington grave)
FindAGrave - Sgt Edward L Hargrove (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Edward L Hargrove (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Paul Arlis Reimer (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Elton J Rose (news, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT Elton J Rose (Arlington grave)
Thanks to Bruce Hoy and Brian Bennett for details on the discovery and recovery of remains
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