|Pilot Captain Robert S. Porter, O-364039 (MIA / KIA) NY
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Chester J. Kacmarcik, O-413642 (MIA / KIA) Shirley, MA
Navigator 2nd Lt. Robert C. Brown, O-432393 (MIA/ KIA) AR
Bombardier Cpl James E. Wood, 6296800 (MIA / KIA) TX
Engineer Sgt Robert E. Pledger, 6982126 (MIA / KIA) NY
Assistant Engineer Cpl Clifton C. Heath, 6720975 (MIA / KIA) VA
Radio-Gunner SSgt Melvin C. Staerk, 6940765 (MIA / KIA) PA
Radio-Gunner Cpl. Philip D. Barton, 16017370 (MIA / KIA) MS
Tail Gunner Cpl. Floyd J. McCormick, 16021426 (MIA / KIA) WI
MIA June 5, 1942
Built by Boeing at Seattle. On May 22, 1942 delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-9212 and flown to Cheyenne.
On June 3, 1942 assigned to the 7th Air Force, 18th Bombardment Wing, 5th Bombardment Group (5th BG), 31st Bombardment Squadron (31st BS). Flown from Hamilton Field to Hickam Field on Oahu.
On June 4, 1942 at 8:15am took off from Hickam Field piloted by Captain Robert S. Porter with an extra bomb bay fuel tank as one of six B-17s on a flight to Midway Airfield on Eastern Island in anticipation of the Battle of Midway. This bomber was part of the second element, second position.
On June 5, 1942 took off from Midway Airfield on Eastern Island piloted by Captain Robert S. Porter at 3:45pm as one of five B-17s of "Flight 93" led Capt. Donald E. Ridings that on a mission to the northeast to locate the Japanese fleet retreating after the Battle of Midway.
The weather was cloudy to the north with heavy overcast at 12,000' and the bombers were unable to find the carriers. At 6:25pm the bombers located a heavy cruiser at bearing 320° roughly 425 miles off Midway and made a bombing run from 11,000'. The cruiser (likely Mogami or Mikuma) maneuvered violently and responded with with anti-aircraft fire. The formation dropped thirty-two bombs and claimed two near misses during the first bomb run.
During their second bomb run, this B-17s bomb bay fuel tank was observed to fall from the bomber when it released its remaining bombs possibly as a result of anti-aircraft fire and left formation. When this bomber failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). Presumed lost in the vicinity of Midway. Also lost was B-17E 41-2529 (rescued, 1 missing). This B-17 was officially written off on August 8, 1942.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Each crew member earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. All are memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). Porter, Kacmarcik, Brown, Pledger, Barton Heath, Staerk and McCormick on court 7. Wood on court 5.
Kacmarcik also has a memorial marker at Saint Anthony's Cemetery in Shirley, MA.
Pledger also has a memorial marker at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Ogden Center, NY.
Note some wartime recordsa and published references incorrectly list Porter crew as lost aboard B-17E 41-2415.
Steve Birdsall adds: "41-2415 was definitely not lost at Midway although it appears that way in some official records. There must have been a late change but I don’t know why. The Porter plane was 41-9212."
Missing Air Crew Report
16541 (MACR 16541) created retroactively details both B-17E 41-9212 and B-17E 41-2529 Page 2: "Captain Kramer's plane [B-17E 41-2529], reported the following pertinent facts, as reported in the report: 2. Lt. Porter's plane on a bomb run dropped its bomb
bay tank. (As yet not a word has been heard of Lt. Porer and crew. Their ship is presumed down somewhere in the vicinity of Midway)."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert S. Porter
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Chester J. Kacmarcik
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert C. Brown
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James E. Wood
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert E. Pledger
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Clifton C. Heath
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Melvin C. Staerk
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Philip D. Barton
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Floyd J. McCormick
Capt Robert Streeter Porter (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Chester J. Kacmarcik (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Chester J. Kacmarcik (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Robert C Brown (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Corp James E. Wood (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Robert E. Pledger (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Robert Eric Pledger (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Clifton C. Heath (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Melvin C. Staerk (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Philip D. Barton (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Floyd J. McCormick (courts of the missing photo)
USAF Serial Number Search Results B-17E 41-2415
Fortress Against The Sun pages 180-190, 384 (lists Ports are lost aboard B-17E 41-2415 off Midway in error), 390
USAF Serial Number Search Results B-17E 41-9212
Thanks to Steve Birdsall for additional information
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June 4, 2021