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  B-24J-1-CO "Our Baby" Serial Number 42-72969  
7th AF
30th BG
27th BS

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USAAF c1943

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USAAF Dec 15, 1943
Command Pilot  Lt. Col. Arthur J. Walker, O-22462 Deputy 30th BG (POW, survived)
Pilot  1st Lt. Fred F. Garrett, O-740163 (POW, survived)
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. James J. Palladino, O-747476 (POW, MIA / KIA) CA
Navigation  2nd Lt. Charles W. Holland, O-807218 (POW, MIA / KIA) CA
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Donald E. Wright, O-684660 (POW, MIA / KIA) Wichita, KS
Engineer  TSgt John D. Travers, 33373905 (MIA / KIA) Baltimore, MD
Radio  TSgt Virgil F. Abbott, 39838966 (POW, MIA / KIA) Eagle Point, OR
Asst. Engineer  SSgt John R. Ormesher, 13131466 (MIA / KIA) PA
Asst. Radio  SSgt Lester G. Schwam, 12185887 27th BS (MIA / KIA) NY
Tail Gunner  SSgt George S. Lunsford, 37226920 (POW, MIA / KIA)
Passenger  Major Thomas F. Harper, Jr., O-366491 30th BG, HQ (MIA / KIA) MS
Ditched  December 15, 1943
MACR  1415 / 3688

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 2534. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-1-CO Liberator serial number 42-72969. Ferried to Hickam Field then to the Central Pacific.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 7th Air Force, 30th Bombardment Group, 27th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Our Baby" with the nose art of a blonde woman. Below the cockpit window were bomb markings indicating missions flown. During the middle of November 1943 based at Nanumea Airfield.

Mission History
On December 15, 1943 one of twenty B-24s that took off from Nanumea Airfield on a bombing mission against Taroa. Weather unlimited unlimited with .3 coverage cumulus clouds. Over the target, while in a slight dive from 8,100', this B-24 was hit by anti-aircraft fire hitting the no. 1 engine and creating holes in the wing. The no. 1 caught fire and burned until reaching 1,000'. The other three B-24s in the formation boxed in this damaged bomber and attempted to escorted it, while being attacked by enemy aircraft.

Damaged, this B-24 hit the water in a complete stall and impacted between two swells. The tail briefly surfaced above the surface, indicating it broke off in the crash. The left wing also broke off when it hit the water. The other three B-24s were still under fighter attack and were unable to see if there were any survivors. The entire B-24 sunk within 40 seconds or less after the impact.

Fates of the Crew
Walker, Garrett, Palladino, Wright, Holland, Abbott and Lunsford survived the crash. The rest of the crew are presumed to have gone down with the bomber when it sank.

The seven survivors were rescued by the Japanese and became Prisoners Of War (POWs). All seven were transported to Kwajalein and detained and interrogated. The fates of Palladino, Wright, Holland, Abbott and Lunsford are unknown, likely executed or died in captivity. All five remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

The Japanese interrogated Walker and referred to him as "Lt. Col F.". The other five crew members of the crew were referred to as H, I, J, K, L.

Later, Walker and Garrett were later transported to Japan and detained at POW camps. In October 1945 Walker from Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku) Tokyo Bay Area 35-140. Garrett was liberated from Osaka Main Camp Chikko Osaka 34-135.

At the end of January 1944 when the U.S. liberated Kwajalein, a captured Japanese document found revealed that seven of the crew were taken prisoner by the Japanese including Walker, Garrett, Palladino, Wright, Holland, Abbott and Lunsford. Although these men were indeed POWs, their official status was not changed to POW in official records for unknown reasons, and instead remained listed as MIA.

Travers and Ormesher were officially declared dead December 16, 1943. Schwam and Harper were officially declared dead December 17, 1943. Palladino, Holland, Wright, Abbott and Lunsford were officially declared dead November 10, 1945.

All are memorialized at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the court of the missing. Palladino, Holland, Harper and Abbott, Ormesher, Schwam, Lunsford and Harper on court 7. Wright and Travers on court 5.

Ormesher also has a memorial marker at Greenwood Memorial Park in Lower Burrell, PA.

Lunsford also has a memorial marker at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery at section MA, site 14.

Harper also has a memorial marker at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Macon, MS.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24J Liberator 42-72969

"72969 (30th BG, 27th BS, "Our Baby") shot down by AAA 20 mi NE of Taroa, Gilbert Islands Dec 15, 1943. MACR 1415 and 3688. 9 KIA, 2 POW."
Missing Air Crew Report 1415 (MACR 1415)
Missing Air Crew Report 3688 (MACR 3688)
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Arthur J. Walker
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Fred F. Garrett
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - James J. Palladino
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Charles W. Holland
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Donald E. Wright
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - John D. Travers
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Virgil F. Abbott
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - John R. Ormesher
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Lester G. Schwam
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - George S. Lunsford
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Thomas F. Harper Jr.
FindAGrave - 2Lt James J Palladino (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Charles W Holland (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Donald E Wright (photo, obituary, court of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt John D Travers (court of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Virgil Franklin Abbott (court of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt John R Ormesher (photo, court of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - John R Ormesher (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Lester G Schwam (court of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt George S Lunsford (court of the missing photo)
FindAGrave -
George S "Sammy" Lunsford (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave -
Maj Thomas F Harper, Jr (court of the missing photo)
FindAGrave -
Maj Thomas F Harper, Jr (memorial marker)

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Last Updated
February 18, 2020


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Jan 21, 1944

9 Prisoners
9 Missing

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