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  B-24J-195-CO Liberator Serial Number 44-41078  
13th AF
868th BS

Pilot  2nd Lt. Gordon E. Brums, O-709764 (MIA / KIA, BR) Sigourney, IA
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Anthony Slabis, O-711809 (MIA / KIA, BR) Melrose Park, IL
Navigator  2nd Lt. Leslie W. Jacobs, O-2056602 (POW, executed February 15, 1945, BR) Akron, OH
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Wayne P. Ruth, O-718022 (MIA / KIA, BR) Reading, PA
Engineer  Cpl Frank J. Molinari, 32967255 (WIA / POW, executed, February 15, 1945, BR) Brooklyn, NY
Asst Engineer  Cpl George Krisfalusi, 35064799 (MIA / KIA, BR) Cleveland, OH
Radio  Cpl Herman F. Marquardt, Jr., 36815437 (MIA / KIA, BR) Spring Valley, WI
Asst Radio  Sgt James W. Hagerty, 13167406 (POW, executed February 15, 1945, BR) Youngstown, OH
Gunner  Cpl Kenneth C. Dague, 36417827 (MIA / KIA, BR) Marion, MI
Gunner  Cpl Fred L. Lenney, Jr., 19181699 (MIA / KIA, BR) Los Angeles, CA

Crashed  January 12, 1945
MACR  12251

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field to the South Pacific.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 868th Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines R1830-65A serial numbers: BP-440730, BP-440890, BP-440905 ad BP-440873. Weapon serial numbers noted in Missing Air Crew Report 12251 (MACR 12251).

Mission History
On January 12, 1945 took off from Pitu Airfield on Morotai Island piloted by Brums on a mission over Sanga Sanga. In fact, this bomber crashed roughly six miles from Anggana on the eastern coast of Borneo. Seven of the crew died in the crash. When this bomber failed to return, the entire crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA) between Borneo and Morotai.

On January 13, 1945 two B-24s from the 868th Bombardment Squadron took off from Morotai at 2:51pm piloted by Captain Smith and Major Kendrick on a mission to search for the missing bomber. Also, Catalina "Playmate 41" from the 5230th Rescue Group was patrolling and on standby to investigate any sightings and also searched from Morotai to Sanga Sanga. In addition, the 38th Bombardment Group was advised to be on the lookout for this bomber as they flew a bombing mission over the same area that day. There were nil sightings by any of these search aircraft.

Fates of the Crew
Three of the crew bailed out and survived: Jacobs, Molinari and Hagerty. One of them was badly wounded in the right arm. Afterwards, all three were arrested by native police and taken to Anggana and were later sent to Sanga Sanga where they were arranged by Japanese Lt. Commander Shimoyama, the force commander.

Afterwards, they were sent to Samarinda and handed over to the Keibetai (Naval Special Police), two were transported by barge and the third arrived four days later. All three were detained at the Keibetai office in separate cells and each day were taken out for interrogations and beaten for about six hours at a time over a one month period.

During the Americans detention, a Chinese man named Lo Sioe Hong (also known as Lo Hong) who was himself arrested by the Japanese and forced to work at the office gave food, cigarettes, pencil and paper plus water to the three crew members, at great risk to himself and his own safety.

During the middle of February 1945, the Keibetai commander of the Samarinda detachment of the Keibetai, Lt(jg) Yamaguchi Sentaro ordered the execution of the three prisoners, without reference to a higher authority. During the night of February 15, 1945 all three were taken to a spot 300 yards from the office and executed using a sword by Ensign Tasuki Kiyato, Supperior Private Suguhara Isaburo and Warrant Officer Tsuda Kiziro. Others aware of the execution included guards PO2c Tameichi Nishida, Chuso Oku and Shinkichi Wada, civilian interpreter Keiichi Okada. Also Kinroku Nagata who was at the office when the execution happened.

Afterwards, the bodies of all three were buried in a group burial roughly 60 yards from the Keibetai office. Postwar, all these individuals were detained at the war criminal compound at Balikpapan and were interrogated about their roles and the location of the grave.

Recovery of Remains
On September 21, 1945 an Australian Army, 7th Division working party led by Captain Louis C. A. Ariotti, NX200465 from the 2/4 Field Ambulance with Sgt Owen and Sgt Allen and a working party of Japanese POWs. After the recovery of remains the three were buried with a memorial service and cross at Samarinda. At the time, the identity of the three was unknown. Later, exhumed again and buried at the Australian War Cemetery at Balikpapan.

This B-24 crashed into rain forest with heavy undergrowth about six miles from Anggana on the eastern coast of Borneo. The bomber was scattered over a 100 yard square area with most of the fuselage sunk into the mud.

After the crash, the site was visited by Indonesians Catjonj and Hamaid, who recovered a RAF silk map of the Celebes, Amboina and Halmahera and North Celebes plus one speedometer instrument. Postwar, these items were turned over to the Australian Army.

On October 19, 1945 an Australian Army, 7th Division patrol led by Sgt Harold Brokenshire, Field Security Section with Catjonj and Hamaid. During their visit, they found the wreckage overgrown and no evidence of fire. The team failed to identify the aircraft or find any traces of the crew.

Six were declared dead January 12, 1945: Bruns, Dague, Krisfalusi, Lenney, Marquardt, Ruth and Slabis. Three were declared dead February 15, 1945: Hagerty, Jacobs and Molinari.

After the recovery of the crew's remains, they were transported to the United States for permanent burial. The entire crew was buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery section 82 site 103C. Bruns, Dague, Krisfalusi, Lenney, Marquardt, Ruth, Slabis, Hagerty, Jacobs and Molinari.

Bruns also has a memorial marker at Conner Cemetery in Sigourney, Iowa.
Dague also has a memorial marker at Blue Creek Cemetery in Haviland, OH.

Missing Air Crew Report 12251 (MACR 12251) report date January 13, 1945
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Casualty Card - B-24 44-41078
Australian Army, 7th Division "Investigating Officers Report - Events and circumstances leading to the execution of three U. S. Airmen at Samarina February 1945, and other information on the case."
FindAGrave - Gordon E Bruns (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Gordon E Bruns (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Anthony Slabis (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Leslie W Jacobs (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Wayne P Ruth (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Frank J. Molinari (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - CPL George Krisfalusi (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - CPL Herman F Marquardt, Jr (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - James W Hagerty (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - CPL Kenneth C Dague (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Kenneth C. Dague (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Fred L Lenney, Jr (group burial photo)
WW2 Nominal Roll - Harold Brokenshire
WW2 Nominal Roll - Louis Charles Anthony Ariotti

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Last Updated
February 14, 2020


Tech Information

3 Prisoners
7 Missing

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