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  B-17H Flying Fortress Serial Number 43-38882  
20th AF
4th ERS

USAAF 1945
Pilot  1st Lt. William C. Motsinger, O-752224 (KIA, BR) St. Petersburg, FL
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Robert W. Ball, O-784384 (KIA, BR) San Diego, CA
Crew  1st Lt. Rollin C. Marsh, O-802656 (KIA, BR) New Milford, CT
Engineer  Captain Norman E. Zahrt, O-1700383 (KIA, BR) Iowa City, IA
Navigator  TSgt Robert W. Conger, (KIA, BR) De Smet, SD
Gunner  SSgt Gerard J. Doody, 32987236 (KIA, BR) Brooklyn, NY
Crew  SSgt Charles J. Parkins, 39134499 (KIA, BR) Agua Caliente, CA
Crew  Sgt Charles Edward Hurn, 34807555 (KIA, BR) Florence, AL
Crew  Sgt Elliott Leroy Griffin, 37273225 (KIA, BR) Moorhead, MN
Crew  Sgt Otis E Anderson, Jr. 18115869 (KIA, BR) Doucette, TX

Crashed  July 25, 1945 at 4:25am
MACR  14924

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17G-100-BO Flying Fortress serial number 43-38882. Converted into a B-17H Dumbo Fort for use in the air-sea rescue role with a Higgins A-1 lifeboat attached to the lower fuselage.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 20th Air Force (20th AF), 4th Emergency Rescue Squadron (4th ERS). No known nickname or nose art. Radio Call Sign "Jukebox 21". This aircraft was one of eleven B-17G Flying Fortresses capable of dropping a survival boat to downed airmen. When lost, engines R-1820-97 serial numbers SW-030359, SW-030436, SW-030453 and SW-030331. Weapon serial numbers unknown.

Mission History
On July 25, 1945 took off from Motoyama No. 1 Airfield on Iwo Jima piloted by 1st Lt. William C. Motsinger on a night search mission for F4U Corsair 81319 that crashed yesterday near Arai at roughly over Lat 34° 35' N, Long 137°  35' E on the southern coast of Honshu. Weather was described as good. This aircraft was lost, circumstances unknown. No distress signal was received. When this B-17 failed to return the crew was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

From the Japanese side the fate of this aircraft is known from the research from "A Dumbo Fort was lost on July 25 1945" by Minoru Kamada July 3, 2016. This B-17 flew over Maisaka near the Benten Jima flying northward at an altitude of roughly 300m (984'). Crossing the coast, 75mm anti-aircraft guns emplaced on the south side of the highway at Benten Jima opened fire on the bomber.

Hit by anti-aircraft fire, one of the engines began smoking as it flew northward, then attempted to circle to the west over Lake Hamana, then southward. Trailing black smoke, one of the engines on the right wing broke off before the bomber crashed at Yakute to the northwest of Arai.

Twelve aircraft participated in a search over two days directed by Major Ivan K. Mays. The search was without results. All stations and ships were altered to be on the lookout for this bomber.

This B-17 impacted pine trees before crashing into the ground nose first at Yakute to the northwest of Arai. Immediately after the crash, civilians ran to the crash site and observed several mounds of debris and fire and observed the rescue boat in the wreckage.

Recovery of Remains
Thirty minutes after the crash, Japanese Keibodan (wartime guards) reached the crash site and extinguished the fire. The bodies of the ten crew were recovered, all badly burned from the fire and no identification was possible. Afterwards, the bodies of the crew were cremated and buried at the nearby Arai crematorium, along with the body of the Corsair pilot that crashed the previous day.

On May 22, 1947 U. S. Army investigators visited Arai to investigate the possibilities of any atrocities in connection with the death of this crew, but found none. During their visit, they interrogated Katsumi Kumagai the former Kempei Tai commander for Arai who explained how the B-17 crashed and how the crew's bodies were recovered, cremated and buried. Afterwards, the remains of the crew were recovered and transported to the United States for permanent burial.

The entire crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). Four of the crew are buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). Motsinger at plot N, grave 423. Ball at plot P, grave 414. Conger at plot P, grave 630. Hurn at plot Q, grave 337. Hun also is memorialized at a World War II memorial plaque in Lauderdale County, AL.

Zahrt is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery at section O, site 917.
Doody is buried at Mount Saint Mary Cemetery in Flushing, NY.
Griffin is buried at Riverside Cemetery in Glyndon, MN.
Anderson was buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery at section U, site 39.
Charles J. Parkins burial is unknown, but presumed to be in a private cemetery in his hometown.

In Kosai (formally Arai) a stone tablet known as Kosai-shi, Arai-Saijo, Yasuragi-en is located at the back of the Jingu-ji temple honoring the crew of the B-17. The tablets was built by Reverend Taido Kamata (Kamada) who collected money for seven years to build the tablet.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17G-100-BO Flying Fortress 43-38882
"38882 converted to B-17H."
Missing Air Crew Report 14924 (MACR 14924) incorrectly lists the U. S. Army serial number as "42-3882". The correct serial number is "43-38882".
FindAGrave - 1Lt William C Motsinger (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Robert W Ball (grave photo)
FindAGrave - 1LT Rollin C Marsh (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Capt Norman Eldridge Zahrt (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Robert W Conger (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Gerard J. Doody (grave photo)
FindAGrave -
Charles Edward Hurn (photo, grave photo, memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Elliott Leroy Griffin (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Otis E Anderson, Jr (grave photo)
My Mother's Lover by David Dobbs
Pacific Air Combats WWII (1993) page 83 (photo)
"A Dumbo Fort was lost on July 25 1945" by Minoro Kamada July 3, 2016
Thanks to Steve Birdsall for the correct B-17 serial number and Minoro Kamada for research and analysis

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Last Updated
July 24, 2020


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July 25, 1945

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