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  B-24J-120-CO Liberator Serial Number 42-109975  
5th AF
22nd BG
408th BS

USAAF April 16, 1944
Pilot  1st Lt. James F. Rayzor, O-742779 (KIA, BR) Willacy County, TX
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Jules H. Kravet (KIA, BR) Essex County, NJ
Navigator  2nd Lt. George J. Halaby, O-794128 (KIA, BR) NY
Bombardier  1st Lt. Augustus K. Kempkey (KIA, BR) Alameda County, CA
Engineer  Sgt Earl A. Jennings, 12073358 (KIA, BR) OH
Radio  SSgt Lawrence J. Bettencourt, 19186383 (KIA, BR) Alameda County, CA
Gunner  Sgt Robert E. Fischer (KIA, BR)
Gunner  Sgt Lawrence Z. Dickson (severe injuries, survived)
Gunner  Sgt Asa M. Hatch, 18013689 (severe injuries, survived) Tarrant, TX
Asst Engineer  Sgt Milfred H. Cummings, 14079877 (minor injuries, survived)
Crashed  April 16, 1944
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 3771. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-120-CO Liberator serial number 42-109975. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA).

Wartime History
During April 1944 assigned to the 5th Air Force, 22nd Bombardment Group, 408th Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art or tail code.

On April 12, 1944 this B-24 flew its first combat mission in New Guinea.

Mission History
On April 16, 1944 at 9:05am took off from Nadzab Airfield piloted by 1st Lt. James F. Rayzor after an hour weather delay but still took off with low clouds and mist on a bombing mission against Hollandia. This bomber was one of six B-24s from the 408th Bombardment Squadron led by Major Miller.

Roughly twenty minutes into the flight, this bomber experienced engine problems and left formation to the northwest of Gusap and lined up for an emergency landing at Gusap Airfield. Before landing, the bomber jettisoned the bombs and the crew took up brace positions. This B-24 suffered three supercharger failures and each engine was shut down and feathered. During the landing approach, this B-24 crashed roughly 1-2 miles from the runway near an anti-aircraft gun position. On impact, seven of the crew were killed.

On impact, the nose section and cockpit were destroyed and the tail section broke away but the wreckage did not catch fire and spilled fuel and oil over the area.

After the crash, U. S. Army personnel manning the anti-aircraft position rushed to the crash site and located the three survivors.

Fates of the Crew
Only three of the crew survived the landing: Dickson and Hatch and Cummings. On impact, Cummings who was not wearing a seat belt was thrown through the top hatch clear of the crash and was not seriously injured but suffered from shock and returned to the United States but eventually recovered and returned to the squadron. In the tail section, Dickson and Hatch were both seriously injured. Dickson's leg was crushed and lacerations. Hatch was found unconcious under a piece of wing wreckage covered in oil a broken left foot, injuries to his knees and lacerations on his face with most of his teeth knocked out.

Recovery of Remains
After the crash, the remains of the seven crew killed in the crash were recovered and buried in New Guinea until the end of the Pacific War. Postwar, they were transported to the Philippines and United States for permanent burial.

The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission and each crew member earned the Purple Heart, posthumously for those killed in the crash.

Rayzor is buried at Manila American Cemetery at Plot D Row 12 Grave 173. He also has a memorial marker at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Denton, TX at section T, block 14, grave 3.

Halaby is buried at Manila American Cemetery at Plot D Row 5 Grave 85.

Kravet is buried at Beth Israel Memorial Park in Woodbridge, NJ.

Kempkey is buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, NJ.

Jennings is buried at Glenwood Cemetery in Watkins Glen, NY.

Bettencourt is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery at section C, site 565.

Fischer is buried at Saint Marys Cemetery Fort Mitchell, KY at section 12.

Dickson passed away on October 28, 1976. He is buried at Bucklin Cemetery in Bucklin, KS at B1 L13.

Hatch passed away on March 15, 1996. He is buried at Auburn Cemetery in Auburn, TX.

Cummings passed away on July 29, 2001. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in New Orleans, LA.

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - James F. Rayzor
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Jules H. Kravet
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Augustus K. Kempkey

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Earl A. Jennings
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Lawrence J. Bettencourt
NARA War II Army Enlistment Records - Asa M. Hatch
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Milfred H. Cummings
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24J-120-CO Liberator 42-109975
"109975 (408th BS, 22nd BG) crashed near Gusap Apr 16, 1944 during infamous Black Sunday mission to Hollandia. All crew killed."
Black Sunday (2000) by Michael Claringbould
Revenge of the Red Raiders (2006) by Lawrence J. Hickey pages 237-238, 239 (photo), 480, 507
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James F. Rayzor
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George J. Halaby
FindAGrave - 1Lt James F Rayzor (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - James Frederick Rayzor, Jr. (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt George J Halaby (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Lieut Jules H Kravet (grave)
FindAGrave - Augustus Karl Kempkey (grave)
FindAGrave - Earl A. Jennings (grave)
FindAGrave - Lawrence J Bettencourt (grave)
FindAGrave - Robert E. Fischer (grave)
FindAGrave - Lawrence Z. Dickson (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Asa M. Hatch (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Milfred H. Cummings (grave photo)

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Last Updated
February 14, 2020


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