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  B-24D-65-CO "Esmeralda II" Serial Number 42-40507 Nose Number M507
5th AF
380th BG
531st BS

Former Assignments
529th BS

Pilot  Captain Howard W. Merkel O-403734 (MIA / KIA) Marion, IA
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Howard E. Marion, O-734115 (MIA / KIA) Detroit, MI
Navigator  2nd Lt. George C. Kohl, O-732937 (MIA / KIA) Salt Lake City, UT
Bombardier  2nd Lt Laurel J. Owen, O-796586 (MIA / KIA) Plymouth, MI
Asst Engineer  TSgt Raymond B. Hyman, 35259355 (MIA / KIA) Logansport, LA
Radio  TSgt Joseph M. Cohan, 14066618 (MIA / KIA) La Grange, GA
Asst Engineer  SSgt Jack R. Burton, 6960177 (MIA / KIA) Fort Worth, TX
Asst Radio  SSgt Sydney J. Helyer, 32427886 (MIA / KIA) Hempstead, NY
Gunner  SSgt Robert R. Gutwald, 13084646 (MIA / KIA) Altoona, PA
Gunner  Sgt Rufus H. Cantrell, 18089947 (MIA / KIA) El Paso, TX
Photographer  Sgt Wallace E. Leigh, 16093494 (MIA / KIA) Milwaukee, WI

Crashed  July 10, 1943 at 1600
MACR  4424

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego between March 2-13, 1943. Contractor Number 1584. First flight March 17, 1943. Delivered to the U. S. Army March 18, 1943. On March 13, 1943 flown to the modification center in Tucson, AZ for modification until March 21, 1943. On April 14, 1943 flown to Hamilton Field then ferried overseas departing on April 29, 1943 and flying via Hickam Field then arriving at Amberly Field on May 19, 1943.

Wartime History
In Australia or New Guinea, this B-24 flew a familiarization mission with the 90th Bombardment Group, 319th Bombardment Squadron. Afterwards, this B-24 was the first to arrive in the Northern Territory.

Assigned to the 380th Bombardment Group, 529th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Esmeralda II". Nose number M507. Crew chief MSgt Gilbert N. Murdock.

On June 11, 1943 took off piloted by Fleming bombing mission "FEN I-35" against Koepang on West Timor.

On June 15, 1943 took off piloted by Kelly on bombing mission "FEN I-37" against Kendari on Celebes.

On June 23, 1943 took off piloted by Brissey on bombing mission "FEN I-42" against Macassar on Celebes.

On June 27, 1943 took off piloted by Soderberg on bombing mission "FEN I-43" against Laha on Amboina.

On July 3, 1943 took off piloted by Kelly on bombing mission "FEN I-45" against Kendari on Celebes.

On July 8, 1943 took off piloted by Kelly on bombing mission "FEN I-37" against Penfoei Airfield on West Timor.

Afterwards, assigned to the 531st Bombardment Squadron. When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial numbers 42-61695, 42-45443, 42-61592 and 42-61736. Weapon serial numbers not noted in Missing Air Crew Report 4424.

Mission History
On July 10, 1943 took off on mission "FEN I-49" from Manbulloo Airfield on an armed reconnaissance mission over Babo Airfield. This B-24 was the first aircraft over the target and sucessfully released all bombs.

Afterwards, this B-24 was intercepted by one or two Zeros attacked it vigorously and hit the bomb bay fuel tank causing smoke, fire and a small explosion was observed from the rest of the formation. Four of the crew were observed to bail out. The B-24 headed towards the sea and appeared to be under control then exploded at roughly 8,000 or 9,000' and disintegrated in the air.

When this bomber failed to return the crew was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Officially, this B-24 was stricken from charge on July 23, 1943. This B-24 flew a total of seven combat missions.

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

After the recovery of remains the entire crew were buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at section 82 site 151.

Merkel also has a memorial marker at Cedar Memorial Park in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, plot Evergreen.
Hyman also has a memorial marker at Mount Hope Cemetery in Logansport, IN at plot 7, cenotaph.

Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - B-24D Liberator 42-40507
Missing Air Crew Report 4424 (MACR 4424) - B-24D-645-CO Esmeralda II 42-40507
FindAGrave - Capt Howard Willoughby Merkel (photos, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Capt Howard Willoughey Merkel (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Howard E Marion (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - George C Koh (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Raymond Blaine Hyman (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Raymond Blaine Hyman (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Joseph M Cohan (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Jack R Burton (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Sydney J Helyer (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Robert R Gutwald (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Wallace E Leigh (group burial photo)

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Last Updated
February 18, 2020


Tech Information

11 Missing
Remains Recovered
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