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90th BG c1943
|Pilot 1st Lt Charles R. Freas, O-735560 (MIA / KIA, BNR) Philadelphia, PA
Co-Pilot 1st Lt Dean P. Hope, O-726239 (MIA / KIA, BR) Glendale, CA
Navigator 2nd Lt Clifford G. Oskamp, O-673617 (MIA / KIA, BR) Canandaigua, NY
Bombardier 2nd Lt Joseph Paw, O-734974 (MIA / KIA, BR) Hamilton, OH
Engineer T/Sgt Leo D. Faulk, 19102376 (MIA / KIA, BR) Bremerton, WA
Radio T/Sgt James A. Bush, 12095328 (MIA / KIA, BR) Wind Gap, PA
Asst Engineer S/Sgt Kenneth E. Heck, 15077297 (MIA / KIA, BR) Hastings, WV
Asst. Radio S/Sgt Roland N. Peterson, 31083620 (MIA / KIA, BR) Campello, MA
Waist Gunner S/Sgt Glynn R. Early, 17068632 (MIA / KIA, BR) Davenport, IA
Tail Gunner S/Sgt John M. Blessing, 13092648 (MIA / KIA, BR) Mount Carmel, PA
Crashed August 17, 1943
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 1425. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-53-CO Liberator serial number 42-40348. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 90th Bombardment Group (90th BG), 400th Bombardment Squadron (400th BS). Nicknamed "Twin Nifty's" in block letters with a shadow with the nose art of a topless woman with black hair wearing white shorts, cowboy boots and gloves sitting atop a fence with a hand on each side and her feet resting on the lower fence post. Below the cockpit was a scoreboard with bomb markings indicating missions flown with a star above some of the bombs.
When lost, engines R-1830-43 AAF Serial Numbers: 42-45319, 42-44627, 42-44756, 42-44957. Armed with .50 caliber machine guns makers and serial numbers unknown. Likely, also armed with several .30 caliber machine guns makers and serial numbers unknown.
On August 16, 1943 at 11:44pm took off from 5-Mile Wards Drome near Port Moresby as one of twenty-four B-24s on a mission to bomb Boram Airfield near Wewak individually overnight. The formation flew an altitude of 6,500' with 6/10 cloud cover with cumulus.
Over the target, on August 17, 1943 in the predawn hours, the formation encountered intense anti-aircraft fire and searchlights. B-24D "Yanks From Hell" 41-23716 was hit by anti-aircraft fire and is believed to have collided with this bomber damaging it. This B-24 continued to fly for another 20 minutes or so, before crashing into a swamp near the Sepik River. approximately 60 miles southwest of Wewak. When this bomber failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
No wartime search was conducted after the loss specifically for this B-24.
On April 30, 1946 a RAAF Searcher Team located and identified the strewn wreckage of this B-24 at at approximately 3.33 143.38 about 30 nautical miles SSW of Wewak, reportedly near vicinity of Timbunke. It was wet season at the time, and much of the wreckage was under water. The layout of the wreckage suggests the pilots attempted to force land the bomber.
The RAAF team interviewed villagers at Angoram who stated that the aircraft had crashed and exploded at night. The villagers said they had retrieved and buried three bodies near Angoram mission. They claimed one body had floated away, were uncertain If a survivor had been captured by the Japanese or not. Others claimed one enlisted man from the crew (Heck?) had parachuted out and was captured by the Japanese and taken to Wewak.
During the April 30, 1946 visited by RAAF Searcher Team, a token number of bones were recovered.
In 1948, the crash site was visited by American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) who exhumed the graves buried by the locals and visited the crash site. They noted that the wreckage was mostly submerged in swamp. They elaborated that, if re-visited in the dry season, more human remains would certainly be recovered from the wreckage.
During the 1980s, revisited by US Army CILHI, but no remains were recovered, coded "PNG #3".
During 2000, again visited by US Army CILHI.
During early June 2003, this B-24 was rediscovered by by Robert Jarrett / Classic Jets Museum in a swamp during his salvage of P-38H 42-66534. He reportedly discovery of substantial human remains with the help of villagers due to the exceptionally dry season.
After the recovery of remains, the rest of the crew were recovered and transported to the United States for permanent burial. Buried in a group burial on August 16, 1950 at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at section 84 graves 207-209.
Freas was officially declared dead on January 21, 1946 and remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA). He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. Freas is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Oskamp also has a memorial marker at Woodlawn Cemetery in Canandaigua, NY.
Bush also has a memorial marker at Wind Gap Cemetery in Wind Gap in Northampton County, PA at section I.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24D-53-CO Liberator 42-40348
"40348 (90th BG) lost Aug 17, 1943, New Guinea. MACR 6604"
Missing Air Crew Report 6604 (MACR 6604)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles R. Freas
FindAGrave - 1Lt Charles R Freas (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Dean P Hope (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Clifford G Oskamp (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Clifford G. Oskamp (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Joseph Paw (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Leo D Faulk (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - James A Bush (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - TSGT James A. Bush (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Kenneth E Heck (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Roland N. Peterson (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Glynn R Early (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - John M. Blessing (group burial photo)
Legacy of the 90th Bombardment Group (1997) page 74
MacArthur's Eagles (2005) page 40
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