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  B-24D-53-CO "Big Chief Cockeye" Serial Number 42-40351  
USAAF
5th AF
380th BG
529th BS

Former Assignments
90th BG
43rd BG
403rd BS




380th BG c1944


380th BG c1944
Pilot  F/O Harold A. Thornton, T-223106 (KIA, BR) Southwick, ID
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. William C. Karbach, Jr., O-806457 (KIA, BR) Chicago, IL
Navigator  1st Lt. Douglas G. McMillin, O-389311 (KIA, BR) Rossville, GA
Bombardier  2nd Lt Max Rubin, O-739216 (KIA, BR) Dorchester, MA
Engineer  TSgt Richard W. Corbin, 35387868 (KIA, BR) Akron, OH
Radio  SSgt Harry H. Reed, 15048811 (KIA, BR) Franklin, KY
Asst Engineer  SSgt Peter P. Kosciuszek, 31082095 (POW, executed) Worcester, MA
Asst Radio  SSgt. J. D. F. Hawthorne, 34354276 (POW, executed) Black, AL
Gunner  SSgt Steve J. Buccia, 35509897 (KIA, BR) New Castle, PA
Photographer  SSgt Kenneth H. Thoen, 39839148 (POW, executed) White Earth, ND
Weather Observer  Cpl Author H. Gill, Jr. 33587829 (POW, died July 5, 1945) Philadelphia, PA
Crashed  July 5, 1944 at 11:00
MACR  6585

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego between January 27, 1943 to February 8, 1943. Constructors Number 1428. On February 16, 1943 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-53-CO Liberator serial number 42-40351. On February 18, 1943 first test flight. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
In Australia, modified with the installation of a nose turret by the 4th Air Depot Garbutt Field at Townsville. During April 1943 assigned to the 5th Air Force, 90th Bombardment Group. On July 23, 1943 assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 403rd Bombardment Squadron with Etter as crew chief until November 26, 1943.

During May 1944, assigned to the 380th Bombardment Group, 529th Bombardment Squadron at Long Airfield. Nicknamed "Big Chief Cockeye" with the nose art of an Indian's head created by a reclining nude woman on the left side of the nose. On the right side of the nose was a scoreboard with bomb markings indicating missions flown and a aircraft silhouette indicating an enemy aircraft claimed as shot down. Assigned to crew chief MSgt Gilbert N. Murdock. This bomber flew a total of eight missions before being lost.

On May 31, 1944 took off from Long Airfield piloted by Carmichael with crew #40 on mission FEN VII-26 first mission against Liang on Ambon Island.

On June 3, 1944 took off from Long Airfield piloted by Carmichael with crew #40 on mission FEN VII-29 second mission against Halong on Ambon Island.

On June 8, 1944 took off from Long Airfield piloted by Levandoski with crew #43 on mission FEN VII-32 third mission against shipping off Jefman and returning landed at Wakde Airfield. On June 9, 1944 took off from Wakde Airfield fourth mission back to Long Airfield.

On June 12, 1944 took off from Long Airfield piloted by Levandoski with crew #43 on mission FEN VII-33 fifth mission against Liang on Ambon Island.

On June 29, 1944 took off from Long Airfield piloted by Levandoski with crew #43 on mission FEN VII-45 sixth mission against Babo.

On July 1, 1944 took off from Long Airfield piloted by F/O Evans  (RAAF) with crew #45 on mission FEN VII-49 seventh mission against Namlea on Boeroe Island.

When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial number 42-40351, 42-86729, 42-36439 and 42-41433. Armed with ten .50 caliber machine guns makers and serial numbers not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 6585 (MACR 6585).

Mission History
On July 5, 1944 took off from Long Airfield piloted by F/O Harold A. Thornton with crew #19 on mission FEN VIII-7 eighth mission a weather reconnaissance over Ceram (Seram). The weather had a ceiling of 1,500' with 6-8/10 cumulus clouds and visibility of 10-15 miles. After making a weather report, no further reports were received. When this B-24 failed to return, it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

In fact, this B-24 spotted enemy vessels and made a bomb run against the ships then crashed into a mountain top near Sampala on Ceram (Seram) at approximately Lat 2° 24' S Long 130 E. Eight of the crew were killed in the crash.

Fates of the Crew
Before the crash, four of the crew successfully bailed out and swam ashore: Kosciuszek, Thoen, Hawthorne and Gil. All four were captured by the Japanese and became as Prisoners Of War (POW).

The four prisoners were transported to Ambon and detained at Galala Prison. Kosciuszek, Thoen, Hawthorne were executed by the Japanese at the end of August 1944. Two were killed on August 30, 1944. One was killed on August 31, 1944.

Separated from the other three prisoners, Gil was transported via Celebes (Sulawesi), Philippines, Formosa (Taiwan) and then to Japan and detained at Ofuna Camp. During captivity, he was beaten by guards with bats and sustained internal injuries. Unable to eat he died of abuse and starvation.

Recovery of Remains
Postwar, the remains of the crew were recovered and transported to the United States for permanent burial.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead on August 29, 1944. After the recovery of remains, the crew were transported to the United States for permanent burial.

Eight crew members are buried in a group burial at Arlington National Cemetery at section 2, site: E-293 are Buccia, Corbin, Hawthorne, Karbach, McMillin, Reed, Rubin and Thornton. The date of death on the grave is listed as August 29, 1944.

Two of the crew are buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). Kosciuszek at Plot P Row 0 Grave 1083 and Thoen at Plot Q Row 0 Grave 858. The date of death listed on both graves is listed as August 29, 1944.

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24D-53-CO Liberator 42-40351
"40351 (380th BG) lost Jul 5, 1944. MACR 6585."
Missing Air Crew Report 6585 (MACR 6585) created July 7, 1944
380th BG - B-24D "Big Chief Cockeye" 42-40351 data sheet
380th BG - B-24D "Big Chief Cockeye" 42-40351 mission record

NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File does not list Kosciuszek or Thoen as official prisoners
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File Author H Gill Jr
NAA Liberator - Missing U.S Aircraft [Part 4] (NAA: A9845, 292)
"Liberator B24 42-110006 [sic B-24D 42-40351] F/Lt. Belcher reports the following information obtained on interrogation of Japanese war criminals.  Kobayshi reports on interrogation the following:
In the crash at Sampala (a B-24) six or seven of the crew were dead, but four Americans who got ashore were captured and taken to Ambon.  Three were executed at Galala on 30th August 44 and one was executed the following day.  The Japanese officers responsible for ordering the execution were Vice Admiral Yanagato (now dead), Rear Admiral Okado and Captain Kawaraki."
FindAGrave - Harold A Thornton (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 2nd L William C Karbach, Jr. (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Douglas McMillin (photos, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Max Rubin (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Richard W Corbin (photo, news, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Harry H Reed, Jr (photos, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Peter P Kosciuszek (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - J D F Hawthorne (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Steven J Buccia (photos, photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Kenneth H Thoen (grave photo) date of death listed as August 29, 1944
FindAGrave - Author H Gill, Jr. (photo, photo, grave photo)
Thanks to Larry Hickey / IR&P and Edward Rogers for research and analysis

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Last Updated
July 5, 2019

 

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