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Gary Larkins 1992
Paul Sodemann 1999
Dave Franchina 2001
Justin Taylan 2003
|Pilot Captain Uhner Newman (survived)
Co-Pilot Eugene J. Marx (survived) Gregory, SD
Navigator Jack Newton (survived)
Crew Sgt John L Knisley (KIA, BR) PA
Crew Henry Wolf (survived)
Crew Silas Bell (survived)
Crew Anthony Chudsik (survived)
Crew Wayne Shirley (survived)
Crew George Gathers (survived)
Crashed February 16, 1943
Built by Consolidated in San Diego. On September 23, 1942 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-13-CO Liberator serial number 41-23965. Afterwards, flown to Fort Worth, Texas. On October 26, 1942 flown via Hickham Field then across the Pacific to the South Pacific (SoPAC).
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 307th Bombardment Group, 370th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Bundles For Japan" in yellow, with the nose art of a blonde girl wearing a red dress.
On December 21, 1942 took off from Oahu on a flight to Midway Airfield to stage for a bombing mission against Wake Island.
>On December 22, 1942 one of twenty-six B-24s from the 307th Bombardment Group took off from Midway Airfield on December 21, 1942 at 4:30pm and climbed to 10,000' for a night bombing mission against Wake Island. Participating bombers include this bomber plus B-24D "The Bad Penny" 41-23899 and B-24D "Flying Gator" 41-23898. Over the target at December 23, 1942 from midnight until 12:40am, the B-24s bombed one of nine targets from 4,000' making a single bomb run. The B-24s were armed with five 500 pound general purpose bombs, with some fused with 1/10 second delay fuses for specific targets, the rest with instantaneous fuses. The Japanese appeared to be caught off guard and did not offer a coordinated defense, with anti-aircraft fire and search lights not beginning until the raid began and described as light and mostly from machine guns with some heavy anti-aircraft guns. Search lights did not seem to be coordinated with anti-aircraft fire and caught only a quarter of the formation in their beams. Four enemy aircraft were believed to be in the air but did not intercept. Afterwards, the formation returned to 10,000' and returned to Midway Airfield and landed between 5:50am to 7:30am. No B-24s were lost or crew members injured. Only slight superficial damage was sustained on two bombers. In total, this mission spanned over 4,300 nautical miles and reported in the press as a Christmas Eve attack.
Afterwards, ferried across the Pacific and operated from Guadalcanal. After the crash, officially written off on June 11, 1945.
On February 16, 1943 took off from Guadalcanal on a night mission. Due to bad weather, this B-24 became lost. The crew spotted islands on radar and presumed their location was over the Russell Islands and elected to circle the islands and wait for dawn.
When morning came, they discovered they were over Marovo Lagoon off New Georgia. While circling over the lagoon, the engines cut out one by one due to fuel starvation. The entire crew bailed out with the bomber set on auto pilot. The plane continued to circle by itself, gradually loosing height until it crashed into one of barrier islands. The only member of the crew was killed.
Fates of the Crew
The rest of the crew were rescued and returned to duty.
This B-24 crashed near the edge of the Marovo Lagoon at the northern tip of Gatukai Island (Nggatokae).
Paul Sodemann reports:
"The wreck is located literally three feet from waters edge near Tibara Lodge, on the northern tip of the island in the southeastern part of Marovo Lagoon. According to the locals, the B-24 had been shot up on a mission to Munda and was leaking fuel, not everybody survived the bail out. Most parts are easily recognizable, except for the tail which is crumpled up. What amazed me is that the tires in the wheel wells are nearly intact. Guns and instruments have been removed."
Pieces of the nose art were recovered and are on display at the Betikama School on Guadalcanal.
The nose art is incorrectly listed as "Blondie". Traces of the yellow "Bundles" are visible, and the girl in a red dress.
Knisley is buried at Redstone Cemetery in Brownsville, PA. His date of death is incorrectly listed as February 15, 1943.
Jeanne Fischer adds (cousin of Eugene Marx):
"Eugene Marx was born in Gregory, South Dakota. I am curious how you derived the circumstances of the crash. My family has a different remembrance. He survived the war, and also flew during the Korean War during 1949-1950 flying B-29s. Killed at age 31 in the crash of a B-47B Stratojet as a student pilot in Wichita, KS on March 26, 1953. Although I have slight memories of him, he has always been one of my heroes. In fact I was named after him."
CINCPAC "Action Report - Night Bombardment Raid, Wake Island 22-23 December 1942" December 26, 1942
FindAGrave - Sgt John L Knisley (grave photo) death is incorrectly listed as February 15, 1943.
Thanks to Jeff Johnson, Dave Franchina and Jeanne Fischer for additional information
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