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373rd BS c1943
|Pilot 1st Lt. William A. Rutledge, O-373011 (KIA, BR) Sharpsburg, IA
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Don Boyd Smith, O-793188 (POW, survived)
Navigator 2nd Lt. Robert F. Powers (POW, survived) OK
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Richard G. Warren, O-728525 (MIA / KIA) NJ
Engineer S/Sgt Robert L. Corbin, 35112852 (MIA / KIA) IN
Radio Sgt Donald M. Slemmons, 36331069 (KIA, BR) SD
Asst Radio S/Sgt Arvid J. Stomberg, 36324975 (MIA / KIA) Cook County, IL
Asst Engineer S/Sgt Wilbur H. Willis, 6392822 (KIA, BR) Gaston County, NC
Tail Gunner S/Sgt Jay N. Hawe (POW, survived)
Observer 2nd Lt. Cheng C. Wang, Chinese Air Force (fate unknown)
Crashed September 15, 1943
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructor Number 1864. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24-20-CO Liberator serial number 41-24129. Ferried overseas to China-Burma India (CBI).
Assigned to the 14th Air Force, 308th Bombardment Group, 373rd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Temptation" with the nose art of a reclining nude woman with her hands behind her hair and one leg bent on both sides of the nose. Below the bombardier nose window on the left side was "Warren" in block letters indicating the position of bombardier 2nd Lt. Richard G. Warren.
When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial numbers 42-41851, 42-42218, 42-43960 and 42-43013. Armed with .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers not noted in Missing Air Crew Report 12001 (MACR 12001).
On September 15, 1943 at 1:05pm took off from Yangkai Airfield in China piloted by 1st Lt. William A. Rutledge as one of five B-24s on a bombing mission against a cement plant north of Haiphong near Hanoi in French Indochina (Vietnam). Aboard was a Chinese Air Force (CAF) observer, 2nd Lt. Cheng C. Wang.
Over the target the formation bombed from an altitude of 12,000' and was intercepted by 50+ enemy fighters. This B-24 was hit by gunfire damaging an engine that was feathered and remained with the formation for a few minutes then turned to the north. Most of the crew were observed to bail out and were seen to be strafed in their parachutes by the same fighters and some were never seen again. When this bomber failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was B-24D "Mohawk" 41-24129 (POW/MIA) and B-24D "Daisy Mae" 41-24218 (MIA).
Fates of the Crew
Powers bailed out and landed near Slemmons, who died of internal injuries from an improperly fitted parachute and died of his wounded at 22:00. Warren was wounded in the leg and bailed out and was slightly wounded, but was not seen again. Corbin was wounded and unconscious, but alive. Smith bailed out and was picked up by the French. Smith pulled his chute and dropped him out the bomb bay, this was the last time he was seen. Eillis parachuted out apparently unhurt, but was never seen again.
The surviving crew were held as POWs and Powers, Hawe and Smith were liberated at the end of the war from Malaya POW Camp Malay 6-104 and returned to the United States.
MIA / POW
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