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Kell Nielsen 1973
|Pilot 1st Lt James J. Crawford, O-433354 (KIA, BR) Christian County, IL
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt James D. Murlless, O-662590 (KIA, BR) Phoenix, AZ
Crew 2nd Lt. Howard P. Schertzer, O-790997 (KIA, BR)
Crew TSgt Francis J. Donovan, 17040576 (KIA, BR) Lincoln, NE
Crew TSgt Eugene T. McDonald, 17032868 (KIA, BR)
Crew SSgt Yerger A. Smith, 34196864 (KIA, BR) MS
Crew Sgt George E. Duigan, 11033290 (KIA, BR) CT
Crew Cpl Jesse J. Haynie, 13023373 (KIA, BR)
Crew Pfc Steve F. Konik, 35301047 (KIA, BR)
Crew Pvt James W. Cooley, 10100052 (KIA, BR)
Photographer SSgt Stephen Humenchick, 6910982 6th PRG, 8th PRS (KIA, BR) MI
Passenger Lt. Col William A. Turner, VX48384 Aust Army Intel (KIA, BR) Sandringham, VIC
Crashed February 7, 1943 at 5:38am
Built by Consolidated in San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-5-CO Liberator serial number 41-23755. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 90th Bombardment Group, 321st Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engine and weapon serial numbers not noted in Missing Air Crew Report 16406.
During the early 1970s, the crash site consisted of the wing section with the U. S. star markings, one of the tail stabilizers, with one side damaged by fire. at least two propellers with propeller domes attached. At least two of the engines and wreckage from the interior of the aircraft including at least one of cockpit seat, armor plate and radio transmitter. Many aluminum pieces showed evidence of fire deformation and damage from the initial crash. At least one 500 pound bomb remained at the crash site unexploded. The starboard tail fin had the serial number 123721 (associated with B-24D-1-CO Liberator 41-23721).
Kell Nielsen adds:
On April 20, 1973 an Australian Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team visited the crash site and used plastic explosives to detonate a 500 pound bombs to render the area safe. Shrapnel from these bombs shredded trees and vegetation and trees in the area.
Bruce Hoy visited the crash site on October 28, 1973, observing the damage caused by the EOD explosives, shredded trees and leaf litter on the ground and in the process took a number of photographs. He visited again on November 4, 1973 taking more photographs and recovered a rudder pedal and the aircraft data plate. He also found another bomb lying in a dry water course down the hill in the direction of Gerehu.
During the late 1980s and again during the 1990s the crash site was scrapped for aluminum and metal. Today, only one of the main landing gear undercarriage legs and other pieces of wreckage remain at the crash site.
Later, the remains of the Americans were exhumed and transported to Ipswich Cemetery in Australia and buried as "Group Burial #4". Postwar, their remains were exhumed and transported to the United States for permanent burial.
Six of the crew are buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks Cemetery at section 82, site 41-42 including: Murlless, Schertzer, Donovan, McDonald, Haynie, Konik.
Two of the crew are buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). Duigan at section B site 386. Cooley at section D grave 99.
Smith is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
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