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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. Received by the U. S. Army on April 19, 1943. Ferried overseas via Hawaii arriving in Australia on June 14, 1943.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 64th Bombardment Squadron. 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 on mission to bomb Rabaul as part of a formation of B-24 Liberators from the 43rd Bombardment Group, 90th Bombardment Group and 380th Bombardment Group.

This crew was a mix of personnel who did not normally fly together. One crew member was an observer, earning combat hours so he could earn leave at home.

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.

PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 42-40670
Wrecks & Reefs 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
February 4, 2018


Tech Information

MapS 9 29
E 147 15


5 Missing

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