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  B-24D-170-CO "Here T'is" Serial Number 42-72946  
USAAF
5th AF
43rd BG
403rd BS

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via Aerothentic

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USAAF December 1943

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43rd BG c1944

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Brian Bennett 2002
Pilot  2nd Lt Raymond A. Cooley, O-888887 (MIA / KIA) Leary, TX
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt Dudley R. Ives, O-687035 (MIA / KIA) Aransas Pass/Ingleside, TX
Navigator  2nd Lt George E. Archer, O-685343 (MIA / KIA) (Cushing, OK
Bombardier  2nd Lt Donald F. Grady, O-685799 (MIA / KIA) Harrisburg, PA
Engineer  T/Sgt Richard R. Sargent, 13128550 (MIA / KIA) North Girard, PA
Asst. Engineer  S/Sgt Norman L. Nell, 17164634 (MIA / KIA) Tarkio, MO
Radio  T/Sgt Steve Zayac, 20322589 (MIA / KIA) Cleveland, OH
Asst. Radio  S/Sgt Thomas G. Knight, 16126500 (MIA / KIA) Brookfield, IL
Gunner  S/Sgt Blair W. Smith, 33135850 (MIA / KIA) Nu Mine, PA
Tail Gunner  S/Sgt Joseph M. King, 36576814 (MIA / KIA) Detroit, MI
Crashed  April 16, 1944 "Black Sunday"
MACR  4497

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 2516. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-170-CO Liberator serial number 42-72946.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG), 403rd Bombardment Squadron (403rd BS). Nicknamed "Here T'is". When lost engines: R-1830-65 Serial Numbers: 42-91692, 42-9872, 42-36592, 42-89996.

Mission History
On April 16, 1944 took off from Nadzab Airfield (No 3) piloted by 2nd Lt Raymond A. Cooley on a bombing mission over Annenburg-Hollandia. Returning from the mission, the formation encoutered severe weather and the formation broke up and began flying on intruments. Pilot Cooley was instructed to take a heading for Saidor and proceed alone. He acknowledged and stated he was gaining altitude. This was the last radio contact.

This B-24 was last seen 50 miles north of Faita at an altitud of 2,000' on a 90° bearing in bad weather. Whe this bomber failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

Search
Afterwards, a search from Nadzab was made over the Ramu River and Sepik River then returned via Gusap to Nadzab with nil sightings.

Wreckage
In fact, this B-24 crashed at an altitude of 4,700' near Kunukio in the Finesterre Range. During 2001, the crash site was discovered only 700 meters from B-24J 42-100225 that crashed returning from the same mission. This crash site was designated "PP46".

Recovery of Remains
During 2002, a team from U. S. Army CILHI with Brian Bennett visted the crash site.

Brian Bennett adds:
"I found that the crash site search parameters had not been defined and we actualy found the tail turret outside the area of "official interest". A VIP from D.C. was there and he and I found the top turret next to a grid. This item had not been ID'd or flagged as a crew position. I found also a whole outer wing panel that niether CILHI nor locals had found. I don't have a lot of pics as i was only on site for about 4 hours. The reason for the short stay the day i went up was that when the weather started to close and there would then be a mad rush to get to the helicopter back down to the coast."

Identification of the crew's remains was completed in December 2006 using mDNA and dental records. Remains of the crew were returned to their families in early 2007, resolving this MIA case.

Memorials
Cooley earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Relatives
Rich Smith (nephew of Norman L. Nell)
"My Dad’s uncle was one of the two crew, with enough identified remains to be buried individually. They will be conducting a full Military funeral at Arrington Notational this June 2007."

Nancy Donald (niece of Richard R. Sargent):
"It was very interesting meeting the families from all over the USA who had come to attend the group burial at Arlington. The pilot's daughter (her mother was 4 months pregnant with her) attended the funeral. The co-pilot's son, who was about 4 when his father was lost was there. The navigator's daughter, who was 2 months old, at the time of her father's death and her mother attended with their family. The sister of the tail gunner, at about age 92 attended with her extended family. Then the rest of us were nieces, nephews or cousins of these lost men. It was in someway a sad event, but in others it was a celebration of this crew lives. Remembering them 63 years after they were lost."

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24D-170-CO Liberator 42-72946
"72946 (43rd BG, 403rd BS) MIA Apr 16, 1944 in weather-related accident, New Guinea. MACR 4497. On that day (Black Sunday) the US 5th AF lost 37 aircraft to weather. Wreck located in 2002. All 10 on board killed."
Missing Air Crew Report 4497 (MACR 4497)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 42-72946
Black Sunday (2000) by Michael Claringbould page 97
NBC "Bringing Home the Dead from WWII" (2002)
DOD News Release "Ten Missing WWII Airmen are Identified" April 9, 2007
AP "Airman missing for 62 years buried DNA identification led to recovery of body" March 25, 2007
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Raymond A. Cooley
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Thanks Brian Bennett for additional information

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Last Updated
May 27, 2020

 

Tech Information
B-24

MIA
MIA
10 Missing
Resolved

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