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  B-24D-45-CO Liberator Serial Number 42-40309  
11th AF
44th BG
404th BS

Pilot  2nd Lt. James R. Pottenger, O-661558 (interned, returned to duty)
Co-Pilot  F/O Richard E. Filler, T-1007 (interned, returned to duty)
Navigator  2nd Lt. Charles K. Hanner, O-673559 (interned, returned to duty)
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Robert W. Wiles, O-738950 (interned, returned to duty)
Engineer  TSgt Anthony S. Homitz, 33343637 (interned, returned to duty)
Asst Engineer  SSgt Peter J. Bernatavich, 33231667 (interned, returned to duty)
Radio  TSgt James P. Dixon, 35468692 (interned, returned to duty)
Gunner  SSgt Charles R. Day, 35340048 (interned, returned to duty)
Right Waist Gunner  TSgt Thomas E. Ring, 14073557 (WIA, died September 1, 1943 BR)
Left Waist Gunner  SSgt Donald L. Dimel, 15333689 (WIA, interned, returned to duty)
Photographer  Cpl Richard T. A. Varney, 35301384
(interned, returned to duty)
Crash Landed  August 12, 1943 at 12:21
MACR  13041

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated. Assigned to the 11th Air Force (11th AF), 44th Bombardment Group (44th BG), 404th Bombardment Squadron (404th BS). No known nose art or nickname. Assigned to the 28th Composite Group. When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial numbers 42-45295, 42-43769, 42-45135, 42-42813. Weapon serial numbers not noted in MACR 13041.

Mission History
On August 12, 1943 took off from Amchitka Airfield on a bombing mission against Kataoka Naval Base. Weather was ceiling and visibility unlimited. Inbound to the target, this bomber's no. 4 engine stopped working, forcing it to fall out of formation. Over the target area, the bomber was intercepted by ten enemy fighters (Zeros and a Hamp). Gunner Ring claimed one shot down.

After successfully dropping their bombs on the target, the no. 3 engine began loosing oil pressure, likely due to enemy anti-aircraft fire or the fighters. The propeller was unable to be feathered and the supercharger caught fire. Unable to return to base, this B-24 force landed in a marsh near Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula. During the crash, Ring was severely wounded, breaking both bones in his lower left leg and a dislocated his right hip joint and entered a state of shock. Dimel was also injured.

Fates of the Crew
After the crash, the entire crew was apprehended by Soviet forces. The two wounded crew members, Ring and Dimel were transported to the Kamchatka border detachment infirmary hospital roughly 20 miles away. Unable to walk, Ring was carried in one of the life rafts and was unconscious for part of the trip and was given morphine to ease his pain. On September 1, 1943 Ring died of his injuries and was buried at the hospital at Petropavlovsk. The remainder of the crew were interred by the Soviets, then returned to US military control.

The wreckage of this bomber remains at the crash site.

Recovery of Remains
On July 6, 1947, Lt. Col F. P. Kukarin and A. A. Terekhov, chief of the Anatomical Pathology Laboratory and major in the Medical Corps, and V. S. Remarchuk, judicial and legal medical expert and captain in the Medical Corps, exhumed the remains of TSgt Thomas E. Ring and secured them into a metal coffin for transport to to Vladivostok and transfer to the US Navy 5th Fleet, then transported to the United States.

After the recovery of his remains, Ring was permanently buried at Oakwood Municipal Cemetery in High Point, North Carolina.

MACR 13041 notes take off location as Attu Airfield, but unit was based at Amchitka at the time
MACR 13041, page 14 states that on September 2 at 15:00 Ring suffered a cerebellar hemorrhage at 15:00 and died, despite showing signs of recovery prior.
List of Americans, British, and French military personnel detained by organs of the Ministry of State Security References: "B-24 Aircraft Consolidation Liberator, No 240309, crew names recorded as: PATENGER [sic], FILET [sic], HENNER [sic], VANLESS [sic], HOMITS [sic], RING, DIXON, BEGNOTOVICH [sic], DAY, DIMMEL [sic], BARNES [sic]", Record 6 July 1947 City of Petropavlovsk", "Record 12 July 1947", "Regarding our communication NO. 293789 on December 7, 1946"
FindAGrave - Thomas E Ring (grave photo)
Thanks to Chris McDermott for additional information

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Last Updated
August 19, 2020


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