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5th BG, 23rd BS c1944
|Pilot 1st Lt. Wyatt A. Norris, O-818200 (MIA / KIA) Teague, TX
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Grant N. Hansen, O-771708 (MIA / KIA) Vernal, UT
Navigator 2nd Lt. Carlos C. Page, O-1686421 (survived) Lockland, OH
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Frederick S. Zimmerli, O-769334 (MIA / KIA) Kansas City, KS
Engineer SSgt Thomas J. Honsowitz, 36462124 (survived) Portland, MI
Asst. Engineer Sgt Paul P. Makuchan, 13158592 (survived) Conemaugh, PA
Radio SSgt Charles D. Crum, 33671194 (MIA / KIA) Uniontown, PA
Asst. Radio Sgt Melton D. Patrick, 34629995 (MIA / KIA) Tiplersville, MS
Gunner Sgt Edwin I. Mills, 39275741 (survived) Los Angeles, CA
Gunner Sgt Albert T. Chapman Jr., 34828442 (MIA / KIA) Hampton, GA
Crashed November 16, 1944
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 4898. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-190-CO Liberator serial number 44-40962. This bomber had a natural aluminum finish. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field to the South West Pacific Area (SPWA).
On July 7, 1944 assigned to the 13th Air Force, 5th Bombardment Group, 23rd Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. Also known as "962" for the last three digits of the serial number. When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial numbers BP-440952, BP-441169, BP-440704 and BP-440965. Aboard were twelve .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 10844 (MACR 10844).
On November 16, 1944 took off from Pitu Airfield (APO 719) on Morotai Island piloted by 1st Lt. Wyatt A. Norris armed with five 1,000 pound bombs as one of six B-24s from the 23rd Bombardment Squadron on a mission against Japanese warships in Brunei Bay in northwest Borneo.
This B-24 was flying in the no. 6 position. The formation also included B-24s from the 31st BS, 72nd BS and 394th BS plus six B-24s from the 307th Bombardment Group escorted by P-38 Lightnings. The weather was .3 low cumulus inbound with unlimited visibility over the target with no winds.
Over the target at 11:00am at an altitude of 10,500' for roughly 12-14 minutes, the bombers were subjected to heavy anti-aircraft fire from gunners on the warships and land batteries with 2,000-5,000 bursts of fire observed by the formation of different colors: black, white, yellow, green, pink, red and blue.
This B-24 sustained damage in the no. 2 engine and no. 2 fuel cell causing fuel to leak but continued the bomb run with the 23nd Bombardment Squadron releasing on a battleship and observed a cruiser burning, believed to be from the other bombers. At 11:06am a single Zero made a pass over the formation coming in from high above and diving downward and was fired on by some of the tail gunners.
Ten minutes after bomb run, this B-24 reported by radio that it was damaged by anti-aircraft fire and was reduced to a speed of 130 mph. After crossing the eastern coast of northern Borneo, Norris reported a fuel leak and expect to only have three hours of flying time left. At 4:40pm, Norris radioed his coordinates and that he expected to bail out hoping to make Sangihe Island. Other B-24s in the formation contacted air-sea rescue "Daylight 23" but the message was not able to be transmitted and was instead relayed via "Bloomer Tower". Last seen at 4:40pm at approximately Lat 2° 45' N Long 125° 15' E. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was B-24J 44-40924 (MIA).
Fate of the Crew
The crew bailed out roughly 20 miles southwest of Siaoe Island in the Sangihe Islands. At least eight of the crew bailed including Page, Honsowitz, Makuchan and Mills. The identity and fate of the others is unknown, they either died, drowned at sea or otherwise went missing.
After landing in the sea, Page and Honsowitz were near each other and lash themselves together with Page's leather gun holster but neither had a life raft.
Nov 16, 1944
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