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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
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).
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
Hopkins has a memorial maker at Orange Cemetery in Webster, WI.
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