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USAAF March 1942
United Press Aug 11, 1942
|Pilot 1st Lt. Wilson L. Cook, O-417007 (MIA / KIA) Bradley,
Co-Pilot F/Sgt George S. Andrews, 6694 RAAF (MIA / KIA) Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Navigator 2nd Lt. Hubert S. Mobley, O-441131 (MIA / KIA) Tampa, FL
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Joseph R. Cunningham, O-433008 (MIA / KIA) Travelers Rest, SC
Engineer SSgt Elwyn O. Rahier, 6566980 (MIA / KIA) MN
Asst. Engineer SSgt John J. Dunbar (MIA / KIA) Tujunga, CA
Radio TSgt Irving W. McMichael, 6580398 (MIA / KIA) Lincon, NE
Asst Radio Cpl Charles M. Hartman, 6583190 (MIA / KIA) Gettysburg, SD
AVS / Gunner Pvt David B. Beattie, 16039053 (MIA / KIA) Glasgow, Scotland
Gunner Cpl Richard K. Pastor, 12007946 (MIA / KIA) Lynbrook, NY
MIA August 14, 1942
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2467. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2656. This B-17 was paid for by citizens of Seattle during a war bond campaign sponsored by a local newspaper to raise $280,535 to pay for a single B-17 Flying Fortress. Nicknamed "Chief Seattle from the Pacific Northwest" in yellow lettering with black shadow. Also known as simply "Chief Seattle", in honor of American Indian "Chief Seattle" after whom Seattle was named.
On March 5, 1942 at Boeing Field delivered to the U.S. Army on behalf of Major General F. L. Martin in a ceremony attended by Seattle mayor Earl Millikin P. G. Johnson, Mrs. Edward C. Teats and others. Afterwards, ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG), 435th Bombardment Squadron (435th BS) "Kangaroo Squadron". At Charleville Airfield took off piloted by Lt. Morris Friedman and his crew from the 93rd Bombardment Squadron (93rd BS) on a ferry flight across the Pacific bound for Fenton Airfield near Darwin. Unable to locate the airfield, they landed instead at Daly Waters Airfield and the next day arrived at Fenton Airfield.
On August 5, 1942 assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG), 64th Bombardment Squadron (64th BS) as their first B-17, but the next day transferred back to the 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG), 435th Bombardment Squadron (435th BS). On August 8, 1942 in the afternoon took off from Fenton Airfield on a flight to Garbutt Field near Townsville to stage for a bombing mission the next day.
On August 9, 1942 took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Lt. Morris Friedman on a reconnaissance mission over Rabaul and Kavieng. The mission lasted 8 hours and 40 minutes.
On August 11, 1942 took off from 7 Mile Drome piloted by Lt. Morris Friedman on a reconnaissance mission over Rabaul and Kavieng. After an hour and a half, aborted the mission due to a problem with the no. 2 engine and returned after three hours. When it landed, United Press (UP) correspondent Frank Hewlett, interviewed the crew and a photographed the crew and bomber while the ground crew worked on the issues related to the no. 2 engine. Two days later, the repairs were completed.
A second crew from the 435th Bombardment Squadron was assigned to fly the next mission. The new crew was experienced in the ways of war in the Pacific. Many were veterans of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Some had been on the ground dodging bombs and bullets, and some had been in the air over the island in unarmed B-17s trying to save. When lost, engine and weapon serial numbers unknown.
On August 14, 1942 at 6:02am took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Wilson L. Cook on a solo reconnaissance mission. The flight plan was to follow the southern coast of New Guinea and at 6:17am over Round Point near Rigo turn to the northeast climbing to roughly 11,000' to cross the Owen Stanley Mountains. Then, the B-17 would fly over Buna at 8,000', then to proceed to Gasmata and Rabaul on New Britain. Finally, fly over Kavieng on New Ireland. Returning, this bomber would search the Solomon Sea for enemy shipping then return to Port Moresby.
After take off, nothing ever heard from this bomber and it was presumed lost sometime between 10:00am to 7:00pm near Gasmata. When this B-17 failed to return, entire crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
In fact, this B-17 was intercepted and claimed by A6M3 Model 32 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai (Tainan Air Group). That morning, the nine Zero took off from Lae Airfield on a flight bound for Buna to escort a convoy. The formation included: 1st shotai: Lt(jg) Joji Yamashita, FPO2c Ichirobei Yamazaki and FPO3c Hiroshi Okano. 2nd shotai: Lt(jg) Takeyoshi Ono, FPO1c Sadao Yamashita, FPO3c Masami Arai. 3rd shotai: WO Sahei Yamashita, FPO2c Enji Kakimoto, F1c Kihachi Ninomiya.
According to Japanese records, the Zeros intercepted a single B-17 at 7:35am over the Solomon Sea south of New Britain. The bomber's defensive fire severely damaged A6M3 Zero piloted by Lt(jg) Takeyoshi Ono. At 7:40, the three Zeros of the 1st shotai claimed the B-17 as shot down. Afterwards, the 2nd shotai escorted Lt(jg) Takeyoshi Ono's damaged Zero and all three land Buna Airfield.
As B-17E "Chief Seattle 41-2656 was the only B-17 lost that date and planned to fly over the same area at the same time, the Zero claim corresponds this bomber. Likely, this B-17 crashed into the open sea and it is unlikely any wreckage will ever be found.
Australian Andrews was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized at Bomana War Cemetery on the Port Moresby Memorial, panel 9.
The American crew was officially declared dead December 7, 1945. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Cook earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Mobley earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Cunningham earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Rahier earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Dunbar earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.
McMichael earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Maxwell, NE.
Hartman earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.
Beattie earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Pastor earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2656
"2656 'Chief Seattle' MIA Buna, PNG Aug 14, 1942."
Post-Intelligencer "Chief Seattle" c1942 via Steve Birdsall "Once a crew member of Flying Fortress Chief Seattle, T/Sgt. George Ryan Jr. pays his respect to the statue of the Indian chief for whom the plane was named."
Missing Air Crew Report 16345 (MACR 16345) was generated retroactively, circa 1945
Kodochosho, Tainan Kōkūtai, August 14, 1942
RAAF Casualty File (NAA A705, 163/87/247)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Wilson L. Cook
CWCG - George Stewart Andrews
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Hubert S. Mobley
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joseph R. Cunningham
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Elwyn O. Rahier
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John J. Dunbar
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Irving W. McMichael
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles M. Hartman
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - David B. Beattie
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Richard K. Pastor
FindAGrave - 1Lt Wilson Luther Cook (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Hubert S Mobley (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Joseph Ralph Cunningham (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Elwyn Owen Rahier (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt John J Dunbar (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Irving Wenman McMichael (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Irving Wenman McMichael (photo, memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Corp Charles Max Hartman (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Pvt David B Beattie (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Richard K Pastor (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
50th Anniversary: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress 1935-1985 (cover photo)
Chief Seattle from the Pacific Northwest by Glen Spieth, 1988 (self published)
Oz@War - Chief Seattle a B-17 of the 435th Bomb Squadron crashed 14 Aug 1942
Clemson University Alumni Class of 1939 - Joseph Ralph Cunningham (photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2656
Eagles of the Southern Sky (2012) pages 121 (artwork) 247-249, 300 (artwork), 302, 318, 337, 388
Thanks to Steve Birdsall and Edward Rogers for additional information
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Aug 14, 1942
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