38th BS January 1944
|Pilot 1st Lt Howard T. Lurcott, O-665064 819th BS (MIA / KIA) St. Louis, MO
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. George M. Johnson, O-534947 38th BS (MIA / KIA) DE
Navigator 2nd Lt. Stanley J. Alenier, O-801180 819th BS (MIA / KIA) Troy, NY
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Stephen J. Dabrowski, O-669210 (MIA / KIA, BR) NJ
Engineer SSgt Donald L. Polzien, 17038352 (MIA / KIA) NB
Radio SSgt Carl M. Shaffer, 33186567 819th BS (MIA / KIA) PA
Asst. Radar SSgt John F. Fenzel, 33064378 819th BS (MIA / KIA) MD
Asst. Engineer SSgt James W. Shell, 14047616 819th BS (MIA / KIA) GA
Armorer-Gunner SSgt Arthur E. Myers, 35038018 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Radar-Gunner Sgt Howard Rothman, 32075843 819th BS (MIA / KIA) NJ
Crashed January 21, 1944 at 12:38am
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 2542. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-1-CO Liberator serial number 42-72999. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then to the Central Pacific.
Assigned to the 7th Air Force, 30th Bombardment Group, 38th Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. On November 12, 1943, this bomber was based at Nanumea Airfield and flew at least eight combat missions, sometimes staging from Tarawa Airfield (Hawkins Field).
When lost, engine serial numbers R-1830-65 serial numbers 42-90414, 42-90076, 42-89485 and 42-89998. Aboard were ten .50 caliber machine guns, serial numbers 677866, 677332, 671009, 671774, 671523, 677467, 748982, 671076, 670983 and 670898. Also aboard were two .30 caliber machine guns serial numbers 18140 and 27877. Plus, one pyrotechnic pistol M-8 serial number unknown.
On January 21, 1944 took off from Tarawa Airfield (Hawkins Field) on Tarawa (Betio) at 12:21am piloted by 1st Lt Howard T. Lurcott on a bombing mission against Roi Island at Kwajalein Atoll. This bomber took off seventeen minutes after B-24J "Miss Bee Haven" 42-72982 which crashed after take off.
After taking off to the east, the engines did not sound as though they were developing power. After reaching an altitude of roughly 250' to 300', the bomber started to settle slowly. At 12:38am crashed into the seas roughly 3 miles to the east outside Tarawa Lagoon.
On impact, the B-24 blew up in two distinct explosions heard on Tarawa. The entire crew was presumed to be killed in the crash and were all listed as Missing In Action (MIA). The crash was believed to have been caused by water in the gas.
The wreckage of this B-24 sank into to Tarawa Lagoon at a depth of 24'.
Recovery of Remains
After the crash, the remains of three of the crew, later identified as Dabrowski, Polzien and Myers were recovered and buried on in the main Marine Cemetery no. 33 on Tarawa (Betio). The remains of other crew members including Lurcott were also recovered and buried on Marine Cemetery no. 33 on Tarawa (Betio).
In March 1946 the graves of Dabrowski, Polzien and Myers were exhumed and relocated to Lone Pine Cemetery on Tarawa (Betio). Afterwards, the remains of Dabrowski and Myers were again exhumed and transported to U. S. Army Mausoleum at Schofield Barracks on Oahu before being transported to the United States for permanent burial.
The entire crew was killed in the crash were officially declared dead the day of the mission.
The eight Missing In Action (MIA) crew members each earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. All eight are memorialized at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at the court of the missing on court 7.
Johnson also has a memorial marker at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Seaford, DE.
Dabrowski is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at plot C, grave 1314.
Myers is buried at Dresden Cemetery in Dresden, OH at block 5, row 10.
Polzien also has a memorial marker at Fort McPherson National Cemetery section MA, site 10. He also has another memorial marker at Jefferson Cemetery in Jefferson, IA.
Lurcott lost burial on Tarawa (Betio) was located and his remains recovered by History Flight and turned over to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). On January 31, 2019 the remains recovered were identified by the Department Of Defense (DoD) as Lurcott with funeral services pending.
Note, the Lurcott crew missing in this crash were photographed with B-24D "Galloping Gus" a different aircraft.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Howard T. Lurcott
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Stanley J. Alenier
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Stephen J. Dabrowski
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Donald L. Polzien
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Carl M. Shaffer
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John F. Fenzel
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - James W. Shell
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Arthur E. Myers
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Howard Rothman
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24J-1-CO Liberator 42-72999
"72999 (30th BG) lost Jan 21, 1944, Central Pacific. MACR 2629"
Missing Air Crew Report 2629 (MACR 2629) report created February 18, 1944
Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF)
- Howard T. Lurcott
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Howard T. Lurcott
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George M. Johnson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Stanley J. Alenier
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Donald L. Polzien
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Carl M. Shaffer
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John F. Fenzel
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James W. Shell
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Howard Rothman
FindAGrave - 1Lt Howard T Lurcott (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt George M Johnson (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT George McMullen Johnson (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Stanley J Alenier (photo, obituary, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Stephen J Dabrowski (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Donald L Polzien (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Donald L Polzien (memorial marker photo - Fort McPherson)
FindAGrave - Sgt Donald L. Polzien (memorial marker photo -
FindAGrave - SSgt Carl M Shaffer (photo, courts of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt John F Fenzel (photo, courts of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt James W Shell (photo, courts of the missing)
FindAGrave - Arthur E. Myers (photos)
FindAGrave - Sgt Howard Rothman (photo, courts of the missing photo)
DPAA "Pilot Accounted For From World War II (Lurcott, H.)"
January 31, 2019
"Lurcott, killed during World War II, was accounted for on Jan. 28, 2019."
Thanks to Katherine Rasdorf, Pete Johnston and Bob Livingstone for research and analysis
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February 3, 2019
24' / 7.3m
Jan 21, 1944
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