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USAAF Sept 1943
John Douglas 2002
Justin Taylan 2003
|Pilot Captain Robert L. Coleman, O-789137 (MIA / KIA) Wilmington, DE
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Kenneth L. Cassidy, O-802017(MIA / KIA) Worcester, MA
Bombardier 2/Lt Irving Schechner, O-673737 (MIA / KIA) Brooklyn, NY
Navigator 1/Lt George E. Wallinder, O-662400 (MIA / KIA) San Antonio, TX
Engineer T/Sgt Paul Miecias, 32302997 (MIA / KIA) Piscataway, NJ
Gunner S/Sgt Albert J. Caruso, 32464441 (MIA / KIA) Kearny, NJ
Gunner T/Sgt William L. Fraser, 17035405 (MIA / KIA) Maplewood, MO
Gunner S/Sgt Robert E. Frank, 32303093 (MIA / KIA) Plainfield, NJ
Gunner T/Sgt Robert C. Morgan, 16039363 (MIA / KIA) Flint, MI
Gunner Pvt Joseph Thompson, 19039138 (MIA / KIA) Compton, CA
Observer 2/Lt Ronald F. Ward, O-736737 (MIA / KIA) Cambridge, MA
Crashed December 3, 1943
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-60-CO Liberator serial number 42-40475. This B-24 was equipped with radar.
Assigned to the 1st Sea Search Attach Group, 2nd Sea Search Attack Squadron at Langley Field in Virginia and trained to use radar for anti-shipping searches and strikes. Assigned to Project Number 96189R under the command of Lt. Col Edward W. Scott. On October 1, 1943 departed the United States and ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
On October 21, 1943 this B-24 arrived at at 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby on October 21, 1943. There, it was assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 63rd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "The Swan". When lost, engines R-1850-43 serial number CP300163, CP300168, CP300258 and CP300286. Weapon serial numbers noted in Missing Air Crew Report 1459 (MACR 1459).
On December 3, 1943 took off from Horanda No. 4 Airfield near Dobodura piloted by Captain Robert L. Coleman on an armed reconnaissance mission over the Bismarck Sea. Reported as missing between Dobodura and Hanover Island off the northwestern coast of New Britain in the Bismarck Sea. At 0035/L this B-24 radioed "Why aren't lights on?", presumably because it could not find Dobodura. This was the last message from this bomber and further attempts to establish radio contact failed. In fact, this bomber crashed near Deboin on Cape Ward Hunt killing the entire crew.
For two days, Allied aircraft searched its last reported position north of Cape Gloucester, but failed to locate any trace of the aircraft.
Since the war, this crash site was known to local people. During December 2000, reported to John Douglas. Deboin villagers provided the dog tag of Robert E Frank and a description and photographs of the wreckage during February 2001. The B-24 was positively identified using the tail serial number. Afterwards, John Douglas reported the discovery at the April 2001 CILHI PNG MIA Conference and informed Pacific Wrecks.
During 2001, a team from U. S. Army CILHI visited Deboin by helicopter but were unable to locate the wreck during their initial visit. In fact, another village to the south were the landowners and also knew about the crash site.
Afterwards, John Douglas was contacted by Sandy Smith, the daughter of one of the crew members, who had been to a 43rd Bomb Group reunion and learned about the discovery of her father's plane and asked John Douglas to take photos of the wreckage for her. In May 2003 a John Douglas wreck tec visited crash site and took photographs for her.
During June 2003 or July 2003 another group "MIA Hunters" hired a local person to visit the crash site . At one time, the group claimed credit for locating the wreck on their website, which is incorrect. The site was first located in 2000 and reported by John Douglas to U. S. Army CILHI.
Recovery of Remains
During April 2004, this crash site was the focus of a complete JPAC recovery operation and seven bodies were recovered, and personal items including dog tags, two rings and other personal effects. Dental records, mDNA, other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence were used to make identifications for all eleven crew members.
During 2007, this crash site was again investigated by JPAC.
On April 25, 2008 the Department of Defense (DoD) announced the crew were identified.
The entire crew was officially declared dead on January 20, 1946. A memorial marker was placed for the crew at Arlington National Cemetery at section 60 site 8770 with the inscription "aircraft mishap - New Hanover Island January 20, 1946". After the recovery of remains the entire crew was was buried on August 27, 2008. Caruso has a memorial marker at Calvary Cemetery in Cherry Hill, NJ.
Sandy Smith (daughter of Joseph Thompson)
Carolyn Fox (cousin once removed of Joseph Thompson)
"[Pvt. Joseph Thompson] is a cousin once removed of my husbands. We were contacted by his daughter Sandy Smith in December 2002. David and LeRoy Minter have given blood samples for the mDNA match when they do get Joseph's remains recovered. B-24D 42-40475 went down Dec 03, 1945 over Papua New Guinea and has been found by one of John Douglas' wreck tecs. I'm trying to get the government more interested in recovering the remains of Joseph and his crew mates. We want to bring him home."
Chris Gauld (grandson of Paul Miecias)
"My grandmother is Jennie M. Gauld, who lives in Greenbrook, NJ. She is Paul Miecias sister. She is 90 years old and the only surviving direct member of his family."
USAF Serial Number Search Results - USAF - B-24D-60-CO Liberator 42-40475
"40475 (43rd BG, 63rd BS) lost on recon mission over Bismarck Sea from Dobodura, New Guinea Dec 3, 1943. MACR 1459 12 crew MIA. Wreck not found until 2001."
Missing Air Crew Report 1459 (MACR 1459)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 42-40475
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) lists remains recovered for each member of the crew
JPAC News Release "MIA Search & Recovery Teams Deploy to PNG" March 5, 2004
Post Courier "Fallen soldiers return home" April 20, 2004
Telegram "2nd Lt. Cassidy, lost in crash of WWII bomber, identified" April 26, 2008
NY Daily News "Brooklyn hero from WWII is found at last" April 26, 2008
DoD News Release "Missing WWII Airmen are Identified" April 25, 2008
FindAGrave - Irving Schechner
Thanks to John Douglas, Sandy Smith, Carolyn Fox and Chris Gauld for additional information
Robert E. Frank Dog Tag
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