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  B-24D-20-CO "The Goon" Serial Number 41-24183  
14th AF
308th BG
374th BS

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas to India.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 14th Air Force, 308th Bombardment Group, 374th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "The Goon" with the nose art of the character from Popeye Comics with hairy arms, legs and chest holding a yellow bomb. This B-24 flew at least 24 combat missions. Engines R-1830-43 serial numbers 42-59104, 42-59057, 42-59089 and 42-59266.

Mission History
On November 14, 1943 took off piloted by Captain Samuel J. Skousen from Chengkung Airfield in China at 4:30pm on a mission to bomb Kowloon Docks near Hong Kong and lay mines in the harbor. Aboard was the following crew:

Pilot  Captain Samuel J. Skousen, O-661881 (stayed with plane, RTD)
Co-Pilot  1st Lt. Ralph E. Bowers, Jr., O-730070 (bailed out, RTD)
Navigator  1st Lt. Daniel J. Palmer, O-791624 (bailed out, RTD)
Bombardier  1st Lt. Malcolm S. Sanders, O-728513 (bailed out, MIA / KIA) WI
Engineer  T/Sgt. Archie L. Fleharty, 17037803 (stayed with plane, RTD)
Radio Operator  T/Sgt. William J. Novak, 18069299 (stayed with plane, RTD)
Top Turret Gunner / Asst. Engineer  T/Sgt. Arthur J. Benko, 39847409 (bailed out, MIA / KIA) Bisbee, AZ
Gunner/Asst. Radio Operator  S/Sgt Casper J. Chirieleison, 13042418 (bailed out, RTD)
Gunner  T/Sgt. Robert M. Kirk, 16006724 (bailed out, RTD)
Observer  Capt. James S. Edney, O-402440 (bailed out, RTD)

Inbound to the target, this B-24 developed engine troubles and the crew threw out everything possible to lighten the bomber. Expecting the engines to fail, seven of the crew bailed out at roughly 9:30pm over Koyiu at roughly Lat 112° 30" N Long 23° 00E.

Three of the crew Skousen, Fleharty and Novak stayed with the plane and managed to land on November 15, 1943 at Kweilin Airfield. It is unclear what happened to this B-24 after this mission. Possibly, it was repaired and continued to fly combat missions. Or, it was scrapped or otherwise disappeared.

Fates of the crew
Of the seven crew that bailed out, Bowers, Palmer, Chirieleison, Kirk and Edney returned to duty on November 27, 1943. Sanders and Benko were both were officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

Sanders and Benko were officially declared Missing In Action (MIA) and declared dead November 15, 1943. Both are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Benko also has a memorial marker located on the side of Highway 90 next to Lavender Pit between the old and new towns of Bisbee, Arizona. Benko claimed 16 Japanese fighters shot down, the most of any bomber gunner in the USAAF. There was a post-war effort that he earn the Medal of Honor. In 2009, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

Skousen died on Oct. 2, 1990. He is buried at White Chapel Memorial Park Cemetery in Troy, MI.

Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 12413
Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 12030 related to B-24D 41-24138incorrectly lists its serial as "41-24183" [sic]
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Malcolm S. Sanders
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Arthur J. Benko
FindAGrave - Samuel James Skousen (photos)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Malcolm S Sanders (photos)
FindAGrave - TSgt Arthur J Benko (photos)
Thanks to Pete Johnston for additional information

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Last Updated
January 27, 2020


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