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  B-24J-30-CO Liberator Serial Number 42-73268  
USAAF
13th AF
5th BG
394th BS

Pilot  Captain James D. Robertson, O-747320 (MIA / KIA) Judith Gap, MT
Co-Pilot  1st Lt. Lewis J. Bailey, O-749182 (MIA / KIA) Mancelona, MI
Navigator  1st Lt. John D. Kluge, O-805297 (MIA / KIA) San Jose, CA
Bombardier  1st Lt. William C. De Christofaro, O-679612 (MIA / KIA) Niles, OH
Engineer  TSgt Cleo W. Knight, 18194678 (MIA / KIA) Sharon, OK
Asst. Engineer  SSgt Gordon E. McMillan, 32473214 (MIA / KIA) Canada
Radio  TSgt Martin A. Vedrody, 16057555 (MIA / KIA) MI
Asst. Radio  Cpl Lewis M. Fiorito, 31077154, (MIA / KIA) Boston, MA
Gunner  SSgt Joseph P. McKinney, 14022651 (MIA / KIA) Lowndes County, AL
Gunner  SSgt Glenn L. McMillion, 35302390 (MIA / KIA) OH
Photographer  Sgt Abraham Brown, Jr., 13154818 (MIA / KIA) PA
MIA  August 9, 1944
MACR  7343

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 2838. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force as B-24J-30-CO Liberator Serial Number 42-73268. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then overseas to the South Pacific.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 5th Bombardment Group, 394th Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines R-1830-65 serial numbers BP-428223, 42-60065, BP-428115 and BP-428102. Armed with ten .50 caliber machine guns, serial numbers not noted in Missing Air Crew Report 7343 (MACR 7343).

On December 30, 1943 scheduled for take off at 7:40am from Munda Airfield on New Georgia piloted by Captain Oscar G. Fitzhenry with co-pilot Lt. Robert Houser armed with 1,000 pound bombs on a bombing mission against Tobera Airfield near Rabaul. Before take off, bomber's no. 2 supercharger failed. While being repaired, 13th Bomber Command gave this bomber an alternate then took off at 10:15am to bomb the alternate target of Maleai on Magusaiai Island in the Shortland Islands and returned safely.

Mission History
On August 9, 1944 took off from Momote Airfield on Los Negros Island piloted by Captain James D. Robertson on a bombing mission against Yap Island. Robertson had earned enough points for a trip home and this was to be his last mission.

Inbound to the target after crossing the equator, the formation encountered a towering storm front of cumulus clouds and split up to fly individually through the storm. This B-24 was last seen entering a large cumulus cloud and was never seen or heard from again and failed to reached the rendezvous point over Sorol Island.

Returning from the bombing mission, other bombers spotted an oblong yellow colored object was seen at approximately Lat 1° 45' N, Long 143° 45' East that might have been two or three life rafts roped together. No positive identification could be made, but the crew reported it to be about as wide and approximately as long as an airplane wing.

When this bomber failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). It was presumed it was lost due to bad weather or possibly blew up while inside a cloud transferring fuel.

Search
On August 10, 1944 a search mission was flown by four B-24s with negative results, but spotted an oil slick and an unopened five man life raft at at roughly Lat 6° 11' North, Long 142° 44' East. At roughly Lat 2° 7' North, 143° 40' East an object that appeared to be the trunk of a floating coconut palm was spotted and presumed to be the object spotted by the returning formation after the mission.

, an oblong oil slick was sighted. this was at 1130K. At 01 degree 55' North - 143 degrees 45' East, an unopened, unoccupied, 5 man life raft was sighted. At 02 degrees 07' North - 143 degrees 40' East, what appeared to be a floating coconut tree was sighted. It is presumed that this is the object seen yesterday when returning from Yap. Once again, the report states that the weather was the presumable cause of the aircraft's failure to return.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead on March 18, 1946. The entire crew earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Robertson earned the Air Medal with seven Oak Leaf Clusters. On April 7, 1946 a memorial service was held for him at the Judith Gap Congregational Church. His name is listed at the entry-way to Main Hall at the University of Montana, showing graduates lost during World War II. Also, he is listed at the Memorial Trophy Room in the Montana Historical Society & Museum Building in Helena, MT. On May 28, 1992, a funeral service and memorial marker was placed at Judith Gap Cemetery in Judith Gap, MT. He is also memorialized on Montana's traveling Purple Heart Memorial. During 1992, the Robertson family established a fund that provides an annual scholarship (The Robertson Family Memorial Scholarship In Honor Of Captain Robertson) of $500 to a graduate of Judith Gap High School wishing to further there education at any school of advanced learning in the state of Montana.

Bailey earned the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster.
Kluge earned the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters.
De Christofaro earned the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster.
Knight earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster.
McMillan earned the Air Medal with seven Oak Leaf Clusters. McMillan also has a memorial marker at Hartland Central Cemetery in Hartland, NY.
Vedrody earned the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.
Fiorito earned the Air Medal.
McKinney earned the Air Medal with seven Oak Leaf Clusters.
McMillion earned the Air Medal with seven Oak Leaf Clusters. He also has a memorial marker at Dorset Cemetery in Dorset, OH.
Brown earned the Air Medal.

Relatives
Donald "Robbie" Robertson (great nephew of James D. Robertson)

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24J-30-CO Liberator 42-73268
"73268 (5th BG) lost Aug 9, 1944, South Pacific. MACR 7343"
Report of Turn-Back Aircraft, Date January 1, 1944
"3. Date of mission: December 30, 1943 6. Pilot's Statement: No. 2 supercharger was out so I couldn't take off until 10:15 from Munda. After it was fixed, Bomber Command gave me the target, village of Maliai on Morgusiai"
Missing Air Crew Report 7343 (MACR 7343)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James D. Robertson

American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lewis J. Bailey
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John D. Kluge
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William C. De Christofaro
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Cleo W. Knight
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Gordon E. McMillan
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Martin A. Vedrody
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lewis M. Fiorito
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joseph P. McKinney
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Glenn L. McMillion
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Abraham Brown Jr.
FindAGrave - Capt James D Robertson (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - CPT James D Robertson (memorial marker Judith Gap Cemetery photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Lewis J Bailey (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt John D Kluge (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt William C De Christofaro (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Cleo W Knight (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Gordon E McMillan (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Gordon E McMillan (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Martin A Vedrody (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Lewis M Fiorito (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Joseph Palmer McKinney (photos, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Glenn L McMillion (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT Glenn L McMillion (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Abraham Brown, Jr
(tablets of the missing photo)
Captain James Donald Robertson His Life and Times From Judith Gap, Montana To World War II In The South Pacific (1995) by Dean Robertson
Missing Air Crew - Yap Island Mission Loss—9 August 1944

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Last Updated
September 26, 2018

 

Tech Information
B-24

MIA
MIA
11 Missing
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