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  B-24D-13-CO "Super Man / Sexy Sue-IV" Serial Number 41-23938  
7th AF
11th BG
98th BS

Zamperini c1943

11th BG c1943

11th BG April 20, 1943

11th BG c1943
Pilot  1st Lt. Charles E. "Hoppy" Hopkins, O-726401 (MIA / KIA) WI
Co-Pilot  1st Lt. John K. Muncy, O-728908 (MIA / KIA) Alma AR
Navigator  2nd Lt. William P. Rowe, Jr., O-678770 (MIA / KIA) San Bernardino, CA
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Frank J. Washburn, O-731433 (MIA / KIA) ME
Engineer-Gunner  TSgt Lorian A. Llewellyn, 16048015 (MIA / KIA) Winona, MN
Asst Engineer-Gunner  S/Sgt Alan Hibbert, 11043791 (MIA / KIA) Bristol, RI
Radio  S/Sgt Eugene S. Gurzenda, 33167503 (MIA / KIA) Boswell, PA
Radio-Gunner  S/Sgt Orvel E. Estes, 18011510 (MIA / KIA) Utopia, TX
Armorer-Gunner  S/Sgt Sam A. Belfiore, 37124238 (MIA / KIA) Omaha, NE

MIA  January 20, 1944
MACR  1904

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated in San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-13-CO Liberator serial number 41-23938. On November 2, 1942 ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 7th Air Force, 11th Bombardment Group, 98th Bombardment Squadron based at Motulalo Airfield (Nukufetau). Nicknamed "Super Man" with the nose art of the Superman comic character holding a small aerial bomb and a small hammer on the right side of the nose and machine gun and small bomb on the left side of the nose.

On April 17, 1943 departed before midnight on a flight to Canton Airfield to refuel before flying to Funafuti Airfield to stage for a bombing mission against Nauru.

On April 20, 1943 one of twenty-two B-24s that took off from Funafuti Airfield at 5:00am on a six hour flight to photograph and bomb the phosphate works on Nauru. Aboard were pilot Russel Allen "Phil" Philips. co-pilot 1st Lt Charleton "Hugh" Cuppernell, bombardier 1st Lt. Louis S. Zamperini and navigator 1st Lt. Robert H. Mitchell. Over the target, the formation experienced Japanese anti-aircraft fire and were intercepted by fighters. This B-24 was damaged by both anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighters. Aboard, each of the enlisted gunners were wounded. Returning from the mission, Zamperini made emergency splice repairs to the rudder control cables by splicing bomb arming wires around the damaged cables. After landing safely at Funafuti Airfield, one of the wounded gunners succumbed to his wounds later that night. The B-24 sustained nearly 600 holes from battle damage, including five 20mm cannon hits and over 150 7.7mm machine gun hits. Anti-aircraft fire tore off the right vertical stabilizer and inflicted other damage.

Later, the "Super Man" with the nose art were over painted with olive drab paint, and the bomber was renamed "Sexy Sue-IV" above the nose art of a reclining woman with black hair with an orchid flower in her hair holding a paper with the words "Mother of Ten". This was the same nose art motif on three other 98th Bombardment Squadron Liberators: B-24D "Sexy Sue" 42-40078, B-24D "Sexy Sue II" 41-23952 and B-24D "Sexy Sue III" serial number unknown.

When lost, engines R-1630-43 serial numbers 42-42132, 42-42437, 42-36825 and 42-42450. Weapon serial numbers not noted in the Missing Air Crew Report 1904 (MACR 1904).

Mission History
On January 20, 1944 took off from Tarawa Airfield on a night bombing mission over Wotje Atoll.  The weather was scattered cumulus clouds with a weak weather front. Over the target, encountered heavy cumulus clouds.

Fifteen minutes prior to the bomb run at 3:01am, they sent a radio message "one engine out, one engine bad" then left the radio key locked down to emit a signal. The message was received by Sgt John A. Hagen, a ground radio operator for the 98th Bombardment Squadron.

Fates of the Crew
The fate of the crew is unknown. After American forces captured Kwajalein, material from this bomber was captured, indicating the Japanese had visited the crash site.

The entire crew members were officially declared dead on January 24, 1946. All are memorialized at the courts of the missing at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). Washburn on court 5. Hopkins, Muncy, Rowe, Estes, Belfiore, Hibbert, Gurzenda and Llewellyn on court 7.

Hopkins has a memorial maker at Orange Cemetery in Webster, WI.
Muncy has a memorial marker at Melbourne Cemetery in Melbourne, Arkansas.

Missing Air Crew Report 1904 (MACR 1904)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles E. Hopkins Jr.

American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John K. Muncy
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William P. Rowe Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank J. Washburn
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lorian A. Llewellyn
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Alan Hibbert
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Eugene J. Gurzenda
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Orvel E. Estes
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Sam A. Belfiore
FindAGrave - Lieut Charles E. Hopkins, Jr (photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Charles E Hopkins, Jr (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt John K Muncy (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt William P Rowe, Jr (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Lorian A Llewellyn (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Alan Hibbert (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Eugene J Gurzenda (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Orvel E Estes (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Sam A Belfiore (courts of the missing photo, news)
Unbroken pages 58, 63-65, 68-69, 70, 72-73, 75-76, 78, 80-81, 82, 89, 92, 94-96, 97-98, 100-103, 105, 109-112, 114, 116, 136, 138, 184, 186, 215, 401, 420, 460, 469
Unbroken (2014) The movie begins with a scene depicting this B-24 flying the April 20, 1943 mission
Exploding Fuel Tanks pages 106 (photo), 189
FindAGrave - John Kenneth Muncy
(grave photo, date of death listed as January 16, 1944 incorrectly)
Thanks to Robert Livingstone and Pete Johnston for additional information

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Last Updated
February 14, 2020


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