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VMF-124 January 12, 1945
|Pilot 1st Lt. Robert E. Churgin, O-818830 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. John M. Carmody Jr., O-821960 (MIA / KIA) Chicago, IL
Navigator 2nd Lt. Saul Furman, O-712548 (MIA / KIA) Boston, MA
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Ronald W. Wilkin, O-708979 (MIA / KIA) Elgin, IL
Engineer TSgt Charles E. Cytlak, 36723193 (MIA / KIA) Joliet, IL
Radio TSgt John Perla, 12083902 (MIA / KIA) Brooklyn, NY
Gunner SSgt Theodore Jolley, 33609981 (MIA / KIA) Courtdale, PA
Gunner SSGT Albert D. Jones, 32998519 (MIA / KIA) Port Jervis, NY
Gunner Pfc Raymond L. Peterson, 37684786 (MIA / KIA) Rockwell, IA
Photographer Sgt Clifford A. Lask, 35285884 (MIA / KIA) Lakewood, OH
MIA January 12, 1945
Built by Consolidated. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-25-CO Liberator serial number 42-73249. Ferried overseas to China Burma India (CBI).
Assigned to the 14th Air Force, 308th Bombardment Group, 374th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Shootin' Star" with the nose art of a woman in a star and a shark mouth, identical on both sides of the nose. When lost, engines R-1830-65 and R-1830-43 serial numbers BP-426496, 42-366679, 42-40273 and BP-425359.
On January 12, 1945 took off from Luliang Airfield in China on a long range reconnaissance mission over the South China Sea and Indochina coast. There was no further contact with this bomber after take off. When this B-24 failed to return it was declared Missing In Action (MIA).
In fact, this B-24 was spotted on U. S. radar as an "enemy bogey" and three F4U-1D Corsairs from VMF-124 piloted by Captain E. P. Hartsock, 1st Lt. G. B. Parker and 2nd Lt. H. L. Libbey from USS Essex (CV-9) were vectored to intercept. At the time, there was a heavy overcast at about 7,500' and this bomber was flying at 9,500' flying straight and level near Phan Rang over Camranh Bay (Cam Ranh) in Indochina (Vietnam).
Closing in at 6:40pm, they identified the "bogey" as a four engined bomber with twin tails, but could not see any markings or insignia. The Corsairs climbed 1,500' above the aircraft and when they closed in were fired on by the bomber's waist gunners. Captain Harsock pressed his "C" channel button, but received no radio message and continued to receive defensive fire then dove away into the overcast.
Due to the defensive fire received, Captain Harsock decided to attack the bogey, incorrectly believing it was a Japanese Navy H8K2 Emily flying boat. Intercepting, Captain Hartsock and 1st Lt. Parker made an overhead pass and claiming hits and caused smoke. Next, 2nd Lt. Herbert L. Libbey made a firing pass from a high angle on the port side, hitting the inboard engine and inboard wing and set it on fire before it disappeared into the overcast and was claimed as an aerial victory.
Returning from the mission, the Corsairs reported the interception and expressed doubts the bomber they was indeed a Japanese four engined flying boat and might have been a PB4Y Liberator (U. S. Navy version of the B-24 Liberator). The Corsair pilots stated they were fired on, did not observe any markings and withheld their fire for as long as possible before intercepting. Tragically, Captain Hartsock's gun camera footage unmistakably identified the bogey as a Liberator.
The entire crew was officially declared dead January 13, 1946. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. Lask also has a memorial marker at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, OH at section M, plot 84.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24J-25-CO Liberator 42-73249
"73249 (308th BG) lost Mar 12, 1945. MACR 11163"
Missing Air Crew Report 11163 (MACR 11163)
NARA War Diary Marine Fighting Squadron Two Thirteen Marine Fighting Squadron One Twenty Four 1-31 January 1945, page 3
"12. [January 1945] While on a combat air patrol, Captain Hartsock's division shot down a four-motored unidentified bomber which had no markings and refused to respond to recognition or friendly signals, and which fired on them. See ACA-1 Report No 2."
NARA "Aircraft Action Report (AAR) VMF-124 Report No. 8 January 12, 1945 pages 1-6
[page 4] XII: Tactical and Operational Data... On return to base, they immediately reported their actions in full; could not verify it as an [H8K2] 'Emily' from photographs of this plane, and expressed doubts as its being a PB4Y, although admitting that consideration of this possibility had withheld thier fire forsome time in face of heavy fire from the bomber, while the CAP tried to find some markings or contact.
Gun camera films (see attached) developed from Capt. Hartsock's plane identify the plane as a PB4Y [sic B-24J 42-73249], but show no markings on wings or fuselage that are noticeable in the prints."
[Page 6] "Gun camera pictures of B-24 shot down January by ESSEX CAP over Camranh Bay, F.I.C. [French Indo China]"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert E. Churgin
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John M. Carmody Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Saul Furman
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ronald W. Wilkin
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles E. Cytlak
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John Perla
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Theodore Jolley
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Albert D. Jones
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Raymond L. Peterson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Sgt Clifford A. Lask
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert E Churgin (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt John M Carmody, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Saul Furman (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Ronald W Wilkin (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - TSgt Charles E Cytlak (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - TSgt John Perla (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Theodore Jolley (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Albert D Jones (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - PFC Raymond L Peterson (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Clifford A Lask (memorial marker)
Thanks to Minoru Kamada for additional information
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