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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. 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 90th Bombardment Group, 400th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Twin Niftiys" with nose art depicting a topless cow girl sitting on a fence. When lost, engines R-1830-43 AAF Serial Numbers: 42-45319, 42-44627, 42-44756, 42-44957. Weapon serial numbers unknown.
On August 16, 1943 one of two dozen B-24s that took off at 23:44 from 5-Mile Wards Drome near Port Moresby on a mission to bomb Boram Airfield near Wewak individually at night at 6,500' altitude with 6/10 cloud cover with cumulus. Over the target, during the dawn hours of August 17, 1943 the formation met 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 and damaging it. This B-24 continued to fly for another 20 minutes or so, before crashing in a swamp near the Sepik River, approximately 100 kilometers southwest of Wewak.
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, this B-24 was revisited by US Army CILHI, but no remains were recovered, coded "PNG #3".
During 2000, this B-24 was 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.
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.
Freas remains Missing In Action (MIA) and was officially declared dead on January 21, 1946. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Missing Air Crew Report 6604 (MACR 6604)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles R. Freas
FindAGrave - 1Lt Charles R Freas (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 page 74
MacArthur's Eagles page 40
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