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19th BG c1942
Brian Bennet, 2001
CILHI April 2001
|Pilot 1st Lt John S. Hancock, O-417619 (MIA / KIA) Haileyville, OK
Co-Pilot Sgt Robert H. Burns, 6999729 (MIA / KIA) Belleville, IL
Navigator 1st Lt. James W. Carver, O-725946 (MIA / KIA) Eagle Pass, TX
Engineer Cpl Hiram D. Wilkinson, 16014049 (MIA / KIA) Grand Rapids, MI
Radio Sgt Edward R. Cipriani, 13012501 (MIA / KIA) Monessen, PA
Gunner Sgt Mac S. Groesbeck, 19011114 (MIA / KIA) American Fork, UT
Gunner Sgt Raymond A. Maxwell, 18037760 (MIA / KIA) Stephenville, TX
Gunner Cpl Curtis F. Longenberger, 6890994 (MIA / KIA) Berwick, PA
Crashed November 1, 1942
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 19th Bombardment Group, 30th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. During May 1942 ferried overseas via Fiji to Australia arriving on June 21, 1942 and sent to Wagga Wagga Airfield. In June 1942, flown to Garbutt Field at Townsville.
On February 24, 1999 a hunter located a the crash site roughly eight hours walk from Nigila and Gopai, inland from Alotau. Later, he reported the site to a Red Cross worker and took them to the site. Together, they discovered a watch, comb and the dog tag of James W. Carver.
They also discovered larger wreckage which had the numbers '12635' stenciled in yellow, and painted on a background of what appeared to be a red vertical stripe and human remains. Afterwards, the Red Cross worker reported the site and provided photographs including the tail serial number to the U. S. Embassy in Port Moresby who relayed the information to U. S. Army CILHI.
During April 2001, another team from U. S. Army CILHI undertook a full recovery at the crash site to locate additional remains. At the site, team recovered additional remains and personal effects including a sidearm with initials carved into the grip, two women's rings, a clear glass bottle filled with a red liquid that could be men's hair tonic or cologne, still fragrant. And a gold bracelet with "John Hancock" embossed upon it. Carver's navigation kit and a cigarette lighter with his initials on it were also recovered.
On December 21, 2004 Hancock's relatives were informed his remains were identified and his gold I.D. bracelet returned to them.
After the identification of the remains, the crew were permanently buried in the United States.
On January 29, 2005 Caver was buried at Maverick County Cemetery in Eagle Pass, TX.
The remains of the crew that could not be individually identified were buried on April 28, 2005 in a group burial at Arlington National Cemetery at section 60, Site 8245. The grave is incorrectly inscribed "downed aircraft Solomom [sic] Islands December 7, 1945". This burial includes remains believed to be Cipriani, Burins, Longenberger, Wilkinson, Groesbeck, Maxwell, Hancock and Carver.
Burns barely knew his wife, Mildred. They had met at a Moose Lodge dance in Belleville, IL, and married before he went to war. A fan of big-band music who played the trombone, he had brought his instrument mouthpiece with him overseas to keep his lips in shape for when he returned home, says his sister, LaVerne Artnak, 78, of South Park, PA. That he vanished without a trace stunned his family. "My mother grieved. I think she grieved until she went to her death, and she was 95 when she passed away," Artnak says.
Carver was nicknamed "Scootie" and turned 22 just a few weeks before the mission when he was lost. Assigned to the 30th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group, Lt. Carver was a navigator but substituted as co-pilot on his final mission. Previously, he flew 19 combat missions. In a letter to his father, James told of missions where they fended off Japanese fighter planes. "Don't breathe a word of this to mama." At war's end, his mother still held out hope that he was alive in a Japanese POW camp. He played football, he was co-captain of the team at Eagle Pass High School, and enjoyed hunting, fishing and roping. To pay the tuition at A&I College in Kingsville (today Texas A&M University-Kingsville) his father sold his horse "Ernesto". He was a sophomore majoring in petroleum engineering at Texas before he joined the Army Air Corps in January 1942. Sent to navigation school at Mather Field in California, Carver graduated third in his class. He was sent to Australia and was promoted to a 1st Lieutenant before his loss. He earned the Purple Heart postumously.
Sgt. Edward Cipriani was 21. His local paper eulogized him as an honor student, Class of 1939, and a champion debater. He urged his parents not to worry. "Whatever happens will happen," he wrote.
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