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  B-24D-145-CO "Pistol Packin' Mama" Serial Number 42-41209  
5th AF
90th BG
319th BS

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90th BG c1943

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90th BG Dec 1, 1943
Pilot  1st Lt. Richard A. Adams O-791662 (survived)
Co-Pilot  1st Lt John H. Heathe, O-792591 (slight wounds, survived)
Navigator  1st Lt Glenn E. Nations, O-733457 (slight wounds, survived)
Bombardier  1st Lt Fred H. Blaney, O-372647 (slight wounds, survived)
Engineer  TSgt Joseph H. Hatcher, 18063393 (fractured ankle, survived)
Radio  TSgt Lawson M. Johnson, 38156098 (slight wounds, survived)
Gunner  SSgt William D. Ball, 6877719 (MIA / KIA) NY
Gunner  SSgt Lewis B. Butt, 12132516 (MIA / KIA) PA
Gunner  SSgt Philip J. LaGarde, Jr., 14053760 (MIA / KIA) LA
Gunner  SSgt Mitchell E. Balut, 6896544 (MIA / KIA) PA
Crashed  December 1, 1943
MACR  13824

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 2286. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-145-CO Liberator serial number 42-41209. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 90th Bombardment Group (90th BG) "Jolly Rogers", 319th Bombardment Squadron (319th BS) "Asterperious". Nicknamed "Pistol Packin' Mama" (inside double quotations) with a white shadow with the nose art of a cowgirl wearing books and a pistol belt with her hands on the hilts of each pistol. Below the cockpit was a scoreboard with bomb markings indicating bombing missions flown and two Japanese rising sun flags indicating aerial victory claims by her gunners.

Mission History
On December 1, 1943 one of six B-24s that took off from 5 Mile Drome (Wards) near Port Moresby on a bombing mission against Wewak. Over the target, this B-24 encountered intense anti-aircraft fire that disabled the No. 3 engine, but was able to remain in formation. When the lead bomber's bomb site malfunctioned, this B-24's bombardier, 1st Lt. Blaney led the bombing with the rest of the formation dropping on his command.

Immediately after releasing their bombs, the formation was intercepted by "Zeros" (sic Ki-43 Oscars). Anti-aircraft guns continued to fire at the bombers and the no. 4 engine was set on fire, but quickly extinguished. Damaged, d the crew jettisoned everything they were able to lighten the plane.

Unable to return, this B-24 attempted to ditch into the sea roughly twenty miles northeast of Finschafen on the north coast of New Guinea. Another reference states the bomber ditched between Long Island and north coast of New Guinea. When the bomber hit the water, it was observed to cartwheel. When this bomber failed to return it was listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was B-24D "Ten Knights in a Bar Room" 42-72806 and B-24D "Lobo" 42-40830.

Fates of the Crew
During the crash, Heathe was knocked unconscious and found floating in the water. Those in the flight deck area survived. The four in the waist and tail died in the crash and their bodies were not recovered. The survivors deployed the two life rafts before the bomber sank.

The crash was witnessed by B-24D Liberator pilot Robeck in the same formation and reported. Robeck circled the downed bomber while his air crew dropped all their survival gear to the survivors and took of photo of the downed bomber before it sank then circled the crew until they were low on fuel.

The next day, the six survivors were rescued by PT-Boats from Finschafen PT Boat base, escorted by fighters.

The four missing crew members were officially declared dead the day of the mission. All four are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Blaney passed away on October 10, 1989. He is buried at Linwood Cemetery in Haverhill, MA.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24D-145-CO Liberator 42-41209
"41209 (90th BG, 319th BS, "Pistol Packin' Mama") hit by AAA and ditched 20 mi NE of Finschafen, New Guinea Dec 1, 1943. MACR 13824. 4 KIA, 6 rescued"
Missing Air Crew Report 13824 (MACR 13824)
Legacy of the 90th Bombardment Group page 89, 91
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William D. Ball
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lewis B. Butt
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Philip J. LaGarde, Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Mitchell E. Balut
FindAGrave - Frederick Harrison "Fred" Blaney (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt William D Ball (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Lewis B Butt (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Philip J Lagarde, Jr (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Mitchell E Balut (tablets of the missing)

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Last Updated
January 29, 2023


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