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  B-24D-120-CO Liberator Serial Number 42-40981  
USAAF
5th AF
43rd BG
64th BS

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Mark Connolly 2011

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Greg Dick via Steve
Spinaze 2015
Pilot  1st Lt. John T. Parran, O-793828 (survived)
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Robert A. Miller (survived)
Navigator   2nd Lt. Neul A. Lewallen (survived)
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Robert Morris, O-734486 (MIA / KIA) CT
Engineer  TSgt Clarence H. Creamer (survived)
Assistant Engineer  S/Sgt James E. Robinson, 1303824 (WIA, died, BR) VA
Radio  TSgt Donald W. Mayer (survived)
Gunner  SSgt John A. Miles (survived)
Gunner  SSgt John T. Mooney, 11031399 (MIA / KIA) Bristol County, MA
Gunner  SSgt Samuel H. Shapiro, 16125426 (MIA / KIA) Chicago, IL
Ditched  August 17, 1943
MACR  16186

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego at a cost of $297,627.00 using funds F-1 for Army Air Force Order Number AC-24620. Constructors Number 2058. Delivered to the U. S. Army on June 10, 1943. Flown to Tucson, Arizona on June 12, 1943 then to the modification center at Topeka, Kansas on June 21, 1943. Afterwards, flown to Fairfield Airfield on July 5, 1943 and ferried overseas via Hickham Field across the Pacific to Australia arriving on July 31, 1943.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 64th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. This B-24 was officially condemned on August 21, 1943.

Mission History
On August 17, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. John T. Parran on a night bombing mission against Wewak.  Returning, this B-24 encountered bad weather and climbed to 14,000' and flew southward. When it emerged from the clouds it was over the sea and turned to the north and then flew eastwards and then turned westward attempting to locate Port Moresby.

Around 9:00am, low on fuel, pilot Parran ordered the crew to jettison extra equipment and take up brace positions for a ditching with five in the nose section and the other five in the rear fuselage before ditching into the sea in an inlet off the southern coast of New Guinea into the Torres Straits northwest of Saibai Island. During the landing, the B-24 skidded across the shallow water and the tail section broke off. The B-24 settled in the mud with the top of the wings above the water.

Fates of the Crew
Aboard, two of the crew were badly injured. One was expelled though a hole ripped into the bottom of the plane during the landing. In the rear fuselage, Robinson was badly injured in the ditching, although removed from the wreckage he died within an hour.

Also in the fuselage, the two .50 caliber waist guns were not jettisoned and during the ditching came loose and killed Shapiro and Mooney. Their bodies were never recoverd. Three of the crew: Robinson, Shapiro and Mooney remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

The rest of the surviving crew also sustained minor injuries. Afterwards, they used the two life rafts to paddle ashore and built a shelter using their parachutes and managed to radio Port Moresby to coordinate their rescue.

Rescue
That afternoon, the surviving crew were rescued by a U. S. Navy (USN) PBY Catalina and transported to Port Moresby, including Robinson's body.

Wreckage
This B-24 remains in situ into mud in an inlet into the Torres Straits. The wreckage is visible above the water level during low tide.

During 1990, Brian Hall an employee of Hall Contracting Pty. Ltd. was operating a dredge for the Australian Government near Saibai Island and visited the wreckage of this bomber at low tide. After visiting the wreck, he contacted the U. S. authorities and was told the identity of the plane and that it was still an MIA site and made contact with former pilot Parran and recovered the left control column and sent it to him in the United States. During 1991, he also recovered a propeller blade and a .50 caliber machine gun from the bomber.

Memorials
The three Missing In Action (MIA) crew members were officially declared dead the day of the mission. All three earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, postumously. All three are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Robinson was buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 12, site 1536.

The propeller and machine gun recovered were installed in a a memorial with a plaque at Hall Contracting Pty. Ltd., near Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia.

Mayer died in 1981 and is buried at Lacon Cemetery in Lacon, IL.

Parran joined the U. S. Air Force (USAF) and served in the Korean War and Vietnam War. He retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and passed away on May 4, 2005 at age 90. Parran is buried at Bay Pines National Cemetery at section G site 189 in Bay Pines, Florida.

References
NARA - World War II Army Enlistment Records - John T. Mooney
NARA - World War II Army Enlistment Records - Samuel H. Shapiro
Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - B-24D Liberator Serial Number 42-40981
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24D-120-CO Liberator 42-40981
Missing Air Crew Report 16186 (MACR 16186) created retroactively circa 1945-1946
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert Morris
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John T. Mooney
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Samuel H. Shapiro
FindAGrave - John T Parran (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Donald W. Mayer (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Robert Morris (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt John T Mooney (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Samuel H Shapiro (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - James E Robinson (grave photo Arlington National Cemetery)
ANC Explorer - James E. Robinson (grave photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 42-40981
Australian Pilot "Liberator Lost and Found" by Robert Piper March 2013 pages 68-69
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume 1 pages ?
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Mark Connolly for additional information

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Last Updated
February 14, 2020

 

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