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  B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-9220  
USAAF
13th AF
11th BG
431st BS

Former Assignments
7th AF

Pilot  Major Marion N. "Buzz" Pharr, O-22626 C. O. 431st BS (MIA / KIA) Newborn, GA
Crew  1st Lt. Robert O. Pate, O-416886 (MIA / KIA) Dallas, TX
Crew  1st Lt. Thomas N. Warren, Jr., O-391317 (MIA / KIA) Macon, GA
Crew  1st Lt. Richard R. Lehr, O-432385 (MIA / KIA) Lakewood, OH
Engineer  Sgt Cecil A. Rogers, 7000776 (MIA / KIA) Ravenwood, MS
Crew  TSgt Millard G. Hendrix, 6574573 (MIA / KIA) Marshfield, OR
Crew  SSgt James B. Winey, 6667864 (MIA / KIA) Toledo, OH
Crew  TSgt Raymond L. Nelbach, 6706490 (MIA / KIA) Utica, NY
Crew  T/Sgt Samuel E. McKee, 6296808 (MIA / KIA) AZ
Gunner  Pfc Edwin B. Decker, Jr., 7002217 (MIA / KIA) Columbia, LA
MIA  August 7, 1942
MACR  15885

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2692. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-9220. Delivered to Cheyenne on May 26, 1942. This bomber was ferried from the United States to Hickham Field.

Wartime History
On June 5 1942 assigned to the 7th Air Force (7th AF). On July 22, 1942 transfered to the 13th Air Force (13th AF), 11th Bombardment Group (11th BG), 431st Bombardment Squadron (431st BS). No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On August 7, 1942 took off piloted by Major Marion N. Pharr on a reconnaissance mission over the Solomon Islands. When this B-17 failed to return the entire crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

The location of this loss is listed as "vicinity of Tulagi". Another lists the loss as "east of Henderson Field". Yet another source lists the loss as over the "North Solomons" which could refer to anywhere in present day Western Province including New Georgia, Choiseul or Santa Isabel, Shortlands or Bougainville.

Administratively, this aircraft was officially written off on June 15, 1944. Steve Birdsall adds: "15 June 1944” entries on the Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC), that’s a catch-all date when they brought the paperwork up to date and didn't have a record of what had happened to the plane, but it wasn't around anymore."

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead on December 7, 1945. All crew remembers remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Three of the crew: Pharr, Rogers and Hendrix are memorialized at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing on court 7.

Seven of the crew: Pate, Warren, Lehr, Winey, Nelbach, McKee and Decker are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Pharr earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Purple Heart, posthumously. Pharr also has a memorial marker at Arlington National Cemetery at memorial section MH site 505.

Pate earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Warren earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, GA.

Lehr earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Rogers earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart, posthumously. He earned Salem Baptist Church Cemetery in Collins, MS.

Hendrix earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.

Winey earned Silver Star, Purple Heart

Nelbach earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Saint Josephs Cemetery in Yorkville, NY.

McKee earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Oak Lawn Cemetery Ravenwood, MS.

Decker earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.

Relatives
Chuck Young (nephew of Rogers)
"An excerpt from story submitted to Grey Goose Flyers magazine by M/Sgt Hubert B. Hinton - The Georgia Rebel 461 Sybil Lane, Marietta Ga 30067.) Cecil went down during the Initial 7 August 1942 invasion of Guadalcanal. Cecil was Engineer / Top Gunner during the Marine landing at Guadalcanal. The crew was shot down over Tulagi island. Tulagi is east of Guadalcanal (Henderson Field) that forms the south end of the slot in the Solomon Islands."

References
Note, many publish references associated the loss of Pharr and his crew aboard B-17E 41-2426 that was assigned to the same squadron but returned to the United States and were scrapped.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Robert O. Pate
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Richard R. Lehr
Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - B-17E 41-9220
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E 41-9220
"9220 delivered to Cheyenne May 26, 1942; assigned to 7th AF at Hickham, Hawaii Jun 5, 1942; transferred to 13th AF (Poppy), July 22, 1942; WO June 15, 1944."
Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 15885 was created retroactively and does not list the serial number. The location of this loss is listed as "vicinity of Tulagi". Another source states the loss was "east of Henderson Field". Yet another source lists the loss as over the "North Solomons" which could refer to either Bougainville or the Shortland Island
.
Fortress Against The Sun (2001) pages 224, 226, 390, 428
(Page 224) "Maj. Marion Pharr, the CO of the 431st BS, and Captain Sullivan took two planes out from Espirito Santo in the early morning hours. 'Someone cooked up the bright idea of three A.M. take-offs for search missions,' complained Lt. Wilkinson 'Pharr and Sully drew the first one on 7 Aug 42. Sully came back, but nothing was ever heard from Pharr.' Patrolling far to the north, it was assumed that Maj. Pharr, in B-17E (41-2426 [sic]), had run into enemy fighters and was shot down. Later, captured Japanese documents indicated that a B-17 had been downed by Zero fighters on the morning of August 7. (footnote 52)"
(Page 384) "B-17E 41-41-2426 [sic] 431/11 Missing on reconnaissance mission of Northern Solomons. 7 Aug 42. Pilot: Maj. Marion Pharr."
(Page 390) "B-17E 41-9220 26/431 11 Written off, 15 June 44."
(Page 428, footnote 52) “Wilkinson account ‘Losses 431st’ in Cleveland ed., Grey Geese Calling, 255, 310; Caiden, Flying Forts, 236; 'Performance, Results and Attrition of B-17, Heavy Bombers in Solomon Islands Operations - August and September 1942,’ 11th Bombardment Group (H) History, 1.”
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Marion N. Pharr
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert O. Pate
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Thomas N. Warren, Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Richard R. Lehr
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Cecil A. Rogers
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Millard G. Hendrix
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James B. Winey
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Raymond L. Nelbach
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Samuel E. McKee
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Edwin B. Decker, Jr.
FindAGrave - Maj Marion Newton Pharr (photos, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Maj Marion Newton Pharr (photos, memorial marker)
Arlington National Cemetery ANC Explorer - Marion N. Pharr (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert Otis Pate (photos, courts of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Thomas N Warren Jr. (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Thomas N. Warren Jr. (photo, memorial marker)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Richard R Lehr (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Cecil A Rogers (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Cecil Aubrey Rogers (obituary, memorial marker photos)
FindAGrave - TSgt Millard G Hendrix (memorial marker photos)
FindAGrave - SSgt James B Winey (memorial marker photos)
FindAGrave - TSgt Raymond L Nelbach (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - TSGT Raymond L. Nelbach (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Samuel E McKee (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT Samuel E. McKee (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - PFC Edwin B Decker Jr. (tablets of the missing photo)
Thanks to Charles H. Young and Steve Birdsall for additional information

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Last Updated
December 15, 2020

 

Tech Info
B-17

MIA
MIA
10 Missing
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