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  B-24D-85-CO "Ben Buzzard" Serial Number 42-40670  
5th AF
43rd BG
64th BS

Pilot  1st Lt. Stephen W. Blount, III, O-661181 (WIA, survived)
Co-Pilot  Lt Julian J. Petty (WIA, survived)
Crew  S/Sgt Delray Echohawk, 38088034 (WIA, survived) OK
Crew  S/Sgt Clayton L. Landon, 37383109 (WIA, survived)
Crew  T/Sgt Alvin K. Hartley, 17016791 (KIA, BR) IL
Crew  S/Sgt Sequoyah J. Downing, 18128575 (KIA, BNR) Mayes County, OK
Crew  1st Lt Jack D. Ganz, O-419770 (MIA / KIA) IL
Crew  S/Sgt Donald W. Ham, 39832194 (MIA / KIA) IA
Crew  2nd Lt John E. Wagner, O-734765 (MIA / KIA) IA
Crew   T/Sgt Jack R. Myers, 15019872 (MIA / KIA) OH
Crew  T/Sgt Lawrence A. Ommundsen, 32279311 (MIA / KIA) NJ
Ditched  October 18, 1943
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 1747. On April 19, 1943 delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-85-CO Liberator serial number 42-40670. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia arriving on June 14, 1943.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG), 64th Bombardment Squadron (64th BS). Nicknamed "Ben Buzzard" with the nose art of a buzzard bird.

Mission History
On October 18, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome (Jackson) near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Stephen W. Blount, III on mission to bomb Rabaul as part of a formation of B-24 Liberators from the 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG), 90th Bombardment Group (90th BG) and 380th Bombardment Group (380th BG).

Aboard this bomber was a mixed crew of personnel who did not normally fly together. One crew member was an observer, to earn combat hours so he could earn leave time.

Inbound to the target, the formation encountered bad weather and aborted the mission. Returning to Port Moresby, this B-24 ran out of fuel and ditched into Bootless Bay. Seven of the crew drowned in the crash. Four were wounded and were rescued.

The entire crew was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds or posthumously. Due to his actions save others, Cherokee Indian Echohawk was recommended for the Silver Star.

The mission cost four Liberators, this bomber plus B-24D "Sky Lady" 41-24043, B-24D 42-40885 and B-24D 41-41088.

Recovery of Remains
The remains of Hartley and Downing were located after the crash and buried in New Guinea. Postwar, their remains were transported to the United States for permanent burial.

The crew members killed in the crash were officially declared dead the day of the mission.

Ganz, Ham, Wagner, Myers and Ommundsen were never located and remain Missing In Action (MIA). All five are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Hartley was buried at National Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at section A site 1056.

Downing was seven-eighths Cherokee Indian. He was buried on June 16, 1948 at Hogan Cemetery in Locust Grove, OK.

The port wing is against the reef at 1m. The starboard wing is 9m deep. The fuselage is broken in half behind the wings, and the rear is missing. Inside the fuselage is filled with silt and debris. One machine gun is visible. Visibility on the wreck is almost zero due to its proximity to shore.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24D-85-CO Liberator 42-40670
"40670 (43rd BG, 64th BS, "Ben Buzzard") ditched in Bootless Bay Oct 18, 1943 after encounted bad weather in route to bomb Rabaul and turned back. 7 drowned and 3 were rescued. (pacificwrecks)"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 42-40670
Wrecks & Reefs (1994) pages 128-129
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Jack D. Ganz
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Donald W. Ham
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Jack R. Myers
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John E. Wagner
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lawrence A. Ommundsen
FindAGrave - Alvin K Hartley (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sequoyah J Downing (obituary, grave photo)

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Last Updated
June 14, 2022


Tech Information

MapS 9 29
E 147 15


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