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  B-24D-120-CO "Black Widow" Serial Number 42-40967  
5th AF
380th BG
528th BS

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580th BG c1943

Pilot  1st Maurice W. Beller, O-665659 (MIA / KIA) Detriot, WI
Co-Pilot  F/O Lee R. Root, T-000359 (MIA / KIA) Dunkirk, NY
Navigator  2nd Lt. John M. Trexler, Jr. (MIA / KIA) Lexington, NC
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Kenneth R. Adkins, Jr. (MIA / KIA) Huntington, WV
Engineer  TSgt Arnold W. Churchek (MIA / KIA)Tayler, TX
Radio  TSgt Lincoln Johnson, R-1226107 (MIA / KIA) Chicago, IL
Assistant Engineer  SSgt Floyd E. Rakow, 17025984 (MIA / KIA) MN
Assistant Radio  Pvt William M. Thomas, 6917493 (MIA / KIA) Pocahontas, IL
Armor  SSgt Ernest Rivera, 12129457 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY
Gunner  SSgt Paul Nigrini, 13089327 (MIA / KIA) Irwin, PA
R. C. M. Operator  P/O Keith H. Bevan, 35952 RAAF
(MIA / KIA) Artarmon, NSW
Crashed  November 21, 1943 at 1:30pm
MACR  1784

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego completed on May 27, 1943. Constructors Number 2044. First flight on June 8, 1943. Delivered to the U. S. Army on June 9, 1943. On July 8, 1943 ferried overseas via Hickam Field to Australia arriving July 28, 1943. In Australia, modified with a nose turret at Garbutt Field at Townsville.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 380th Bombardment Group, 528th Bombardment Squadron during August 1943. Nicknamed "Black Widow". The right side of the nose had the nose art of a woman wearing a dress with her shirt open and "Black Widow" in black cursive on a white background. The left side of the nose had the nose art of a woman laying down with a black spider on her chest with "Black Widow" in block letters.

On August 29, 1943 first combat mission FEN II-29 took off from Fenton Airfield piloted Colleran on a bombing mission against Babo Airfield.

When lost, engines 42-86996, 42-86386, 42-86704 and 42-62626. Weapon serial numbers 473949 (right waist), 122248 (left waist), 137599 and 496003 (belly guns), 665717 (camera hatch gun). Other .50 caliber machine gun serial numbers unknown.

Mission History
On November 21, 1943 took off on mission FEN III-27 took off from Fenton Airfield piloted by Beller for a reconnaissance mission over Nabire, Manokwari and Sorong on New Guinea. Aboard was Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P/O Keith H. Bevan who served as the R. C. M. operator. Over the Manokwari attacking shipping in the harbor, this bomber suffered a direct hit by anti-aircraft fire over Manokwari and crashed at 1:30pm. The entire crew was killed in the crash.

The crash was observed by 2nd Lt. John P. O'Flahavan, Captain Phillip A. Shaw, Jr. and Captain Dexter K. Baker. All three observed this bomber hit the ground and catch fire. None observed any parachutes.

2nd Lt. John P. O'Flahavan via MACR 1784 page 11:
"As co-pilot of lead ship in second element I witnessed the crash of Lt. Beller and crew. While flying through an area of ack-ack, Lt. Beller appeared to 'peel off' from his three ship formation and continue to loose altitude very rapidly in a steep spiral. Three or four turns had been completed without sign of either fire from any part of the plane or parachutes before the plane hit the ground. Obviously out of control the plane burst into flames upon contact with the ground. I would judge it impossible for anyone to survive the crash. As we left the area of Manokwari, black smoke and flame continued to come from the crashed plane."

The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Australian Keith H. Bevan is memorialized at Lae Cemetery on the Lae Memorial, panel 6.

Nigrini also has a memorial marker at Union Cemetery in Irwin, PA.
Rivera also has a memorial marker at Chamberlain Cemetery in Kingsville, TX.
Rakow also has a memorial marker at Fort Snelling National Cemetery at plot MA, section 16.
Adkins also has a memorial marker at Woodmere Memorial Park in Huntington, WV.
Trexler also has a memorial marker at Lexington City Cemetery in Lexington, NC at section III.

Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 1784
380th BG Association - B-24D "Black Widow"42-40967
380th BG Association - B-24D "Shady Lady" 42-40369 - Mission Record
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Maurice W. Beller
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lee R. Root
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John M. Trexler, Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Kenneth R. Adkins Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Arnold W. Churchek
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lincoln Johnson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Floyd E. Rakow
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William M. Thomas
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -Ernest Rivera
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Paul Nigrini
CWGC - Keith Harry Bevan
WW2 Nominal Roll - Keith Harry Bevan
RAAFDB - B-24D Liberator 42-40967
RAAFDB - Keith Harry Bevan
FindAGrave - 1Lt Maurice W Beller (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - FltOff Lee R Root (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2LT John M Trexler, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - John Moyer Trexler (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Kenneth R Adkins, Jr (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Kenneth Ray Adkins, Jr (memorial marker, date of death incorrectly listed as November 1, 1943 [sic]
FindAGrave - TSgt Arnold W Churchek (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Lincoln Johnson (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Floyd E Rakow (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Floyd Eugene Rakow (photo, memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Pvt William M Thomas (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Ernest Rivera (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Ernesto Rivera (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - SSgt Paul Nigrini (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Paul Nigrini (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Pilot Officer Keith Harry Bevan (Lae Cemetery)

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Last Updated
May 13, 2019


Tech Information

November 21, 1943

Photo Archive

11 Missing

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