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|Pilot Captain Elmer L. Parsel (KIA / BR) Plymouth, OH
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Duke M. Paul (KIA / BR) Buncombe County, NC
Passenger Major Norman J. Lewellyn (KIA, BR) Jefferson County, KY
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Robert P. Spreng (KIA / BR) Richland County, OH
Navigator 2nd Lt. George C. Harkess (KIA / BR) Washington County, PA
Crew Sgt Raymond J. Gregor (KIA / BR) Allegheny County, PA
Crew Pfc Owen B. Knox (KIA / BR) Lawrence County, OH
Crew Pfc James C. Paounoff (KIA / BR) Hampden County, MA
Crew Pfc Willie T. Stokes (KIA / BR) Harris County, TX
Crashed April 2, 1942
Captain Elmer L. Parsel was assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group, 7th Squadron in the Philippines. On December 22, 1941 during the morning he bombed enemy ships off Davao and transports in Lingayen Gulf on a mission that lasted over 32 hours. For this mission, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for "Courage, determination, and extraordinary flying skill on completing a bombardment mission of extreme importance." As of April 1942, he was one of the most seasoned B-17 pilots in the Philippines.
Major Norman J. Lewellyn was a non-flying senior aide to Major General Lewis H. Brereton. During the night of December 24, 1941 to December 25, 1941 he departed the Philippines with Brereton as a passenger aboard a U. S. Navy PBY Catalina that flew southward to Surabaya on Java. On February 23, 1942 when Brereton departed to take command of the command of the 10th Air Force (10th AF), Lewellyn joined him in India.
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress model and serial number unknown. Ferried overseas via the African route to Java
B-17 participated in the Java campaign then evacuated to Darwin. In Australia, assigned to the 7th Bombardment Group, 9th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname Afterwards, this B-17 was assigned to the 10th Air Force (10th AF) and operated from Asansol Airfield in India.
During the take off, this B-17 slipped off the runway, possibly because the crew forgot to unlock the controls. Trying to avoid a stump on the right side of the runway, Parsel pull up sharply and the nose and landing gear lifted off the ground but the tail impacted the stump, tearing off one of the tail elevators. The bomber climbed to roughly 100', then rolled over and crashed into a gully near the runway. The entire crew was killed in the crash. Luckily, the bomb load did not detonate.
Meanwhile, another B-17 in the flight suffered mechanical trouble, and the entire mission was aborted.
Paul also has a memorial marker in Riverside Cemetery, Asheville, NC at section N lot 60.
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