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  B-24L-5-CO Liberator Serial Number 44-41481  
5th AF
43rd BG
403rd BS

USAAF c1942
Pilot  1st Lt. Richard W. Kaiss, O-767560 (MIA / KIA) Dallas, TX
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Robert B. Williams, O-715902 (MIA / KIA) Bradford, PA
Navigator  2nd Lt. John C. Dillon Jr., T-126319 (MIA / KIA) IL
  2nd Lt. Joseph R. Limoncello, O-769221 (MIA / KIA) Chicago, IL
Engineer  TSgt Kenneth E. Gamage, 36480643 (MIA / KIA) IL
Asst Engineer  SSgt Richard H. Ungemach, 36833881 (MIA / KIA) WI
Radio  TSgt Manuel Madrigal, 39037024 (MIA / KIA) San Francisco, CA
Gunner  SSgt John Rounds Jr., 17068483 (MIA / KIA) Deloit, IA
Gunner  SSgt Harry E. Tressel, 35916516 (MIA / KIA) East Canton, OH
Gunner  SSgt Vernon L. Bachman, 37667074 (MIA / KIA) Livermore, IA
Passenger  SSgt John J. Hess, 12073495 (MIA / KIA) Buffalo, NY
MIA  March 7, 1945
MACR  13313

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 5416. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) B-24L-5-CO Liberator serial number 44-41481. Ferried oversea via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) arriving September 29, 1944.

Wartime History
On October 22, 1944 assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG) Ken's Men, 403rd Bombardment Squadron (403rd BS). No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines R-1830-65-A serial numbers BP-444789, BP-445310, BP-445324 and BP-450788. Aboard were ten .50 caliber machine guns 935271, 935233, 894959, 954277, 942960, 430011, 933292, 946746, 734759 and 732757.

Mission History
On March 7, 1945 took off from Tacloban Airfield on Leyte piloted by 1st Lt. Richard W. Kaiss armed with eight 1,000 pound bombs on a bombing mission against Balete Pass in northern Luzon. The weather was local cumulus clouds over the Caraballo Mountains with a base at 4,200' and tops at 6,500' and 9/10 coverage. Over the target, the formation attempted to get below the clouds to bomb, but made only a dry run.

Aboard another B-24, SSgt Joseph Simpson observed this B-24 was observed going into the clouds while in a bank. After coming out of the clouds, this bomber was observed diving down apparently out of control. He then saw a burst of flame and assumed it had crashed into Caraballo Mountains at roughly Lat 16.8 N Long 120.54 E. Also lost was B-24J Liberator 44-40979 (KIA, survived).

A ground station near the scene of the crash sent out search patrols immediately. A search was made in the area bound by the barrios of Taug, Santa Rose, Santa Fe and Conversion near the junction of Nueva Ecija Province, Nueva Vizcaya Province and Pangasinan Province.

Search aircraft observed a long, gray-white object, possibly the fuselage or wing of missing M-481, in gully roughly two miles northeast of Lat 160.8 N Long 120.54 E. No trace of burning and no signs of life were seen in the vicinity.

The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. Kaiss has a memorial marker in Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville, MD.
Limoncello has a memorial marker at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, IL.

Lois Spencer (sister of John Rounds Jr.)
"I am the sister of John J. Rounds who the family called Jack. We lived in Deloit, Iowa. My brother Jack was on 44-41481 and this plane crashed into the side of the mountain. I know that they said that a search group was sent out but thy research indicates that the only search group sent out was for plane 44-40979 and this was after one of the crew made it back to American Lines. This was a terrible time during the war."

NARA  War II Army Enlistment Records - Richard W. Kaiss
NARA  War II Army Enlistment Records - Joseph R. Limoncello
NARA  War II Army Enlistment Records - Kenneth E. Gamage
NARA  War II Army Enlistment Records - Manuel Madrigal
NARA  War II Army Enlistment Records - John Rounds Jr.
NARA  War II Army Enlistment Records - Harry E. Tressel
NARA  War II Army Enlistment Records - Vernon L. Bachman
NARA  War II Army Enlistment Records - John J. Hess
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24L-5-CO Liberator 44-41481
"41481 (43rd BG) lost Mar 7, 1945, SW Pacific. MACR 13313"
Missing Air Crew Report 13313 (MACR 13313) created March 8, 1945
Col. James Pettus' Manuscript, Commander of the 43rd Bomb Group, edited by Jim Cherkauer, page 75
"March 7, 1945. It was a bad day for the strike squadrons and the 403rd in particular. The target was ground support near Balete Pass and the weather was not good. The planes tried to get below the clouds and fly up the valley that was narrow. The planes could not turn after "bombs away" and thus tried to climb to clear the overcast and the surrounding hills. Tragically two 403rd planes hit the mountains. One of those planes, #979 [sic #481], hit the hill squarely and exploded killing all on aboard. The other plane, #481 [sic #979], struck the very top of the ridge in a full stall so that the forward section fell on one side and the tail section on the other side. Amazingly 5 men survived this crash."
KensMen - T/Sgt Loren C. "Red" Bates
"But the saddest memory I have is losing our two wing aircraft by accident during a mission [March 7, 1945] over Luzon. Perhaps this is because our Navigator and Co-Pilot were aboard the one lost on our left wing. Our target was Belete Pass and we were bombing Japanese Soldiers on the ground. We had a heavy load of anti personnel bombs. There were six aircraft on the mission stacked in two elements of three each. We were lead aircraft of the back element. I can remember very clearly that we were specifically warned at the briefing about the 6000 feet mountain peaks we would have to climb over after leaving the target. On the first pass we found the target overcast so we were ordered to make another go around and let down lower. Still not being able to find the target on the second pass the lead aircraft ordered another go around and to let down still lower. Lt. Bauer radioed the lead aircraft warning about being to low because we in the back were stacked still lower. On the third pass we found the target still overcast and attempted another go around. I was in the back with the gunners observing out of the hatch as we climbed out and saw the B-24 on our right wing stall out, spirling to the ground. About that time the left gunner said look over here; there we say the B-24 on our left wing hit the mountain top. The plane literally busted in half with one half rolling down one side of the mountain and the other half down the other side. Now you can imagine how close we came to hitting the mountain. Our nose gunner said he braced for impact. Our Navigator and Co-Pilot both survied the crash and excaped through enemy lines and our own m!ine fields to find our Infantry. Both returned to fly with us again. Three others also survived the crash of that plane but all were lost on the crash of the B-24 that stalled out off our right wing."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Richard W. Kaiss
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert B. Williams
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert B. Williams
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joseph R. Limoncello
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Kenneth E. Gamage
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Richard H. Ungemach
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Manuel Madrigal
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John Rounds Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harry E. Tressel
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Vernon L. Bachman
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John J. Hess

FindAGrave - Richard W. Kaiss (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Richard Wilkinson Kaiss (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert B. Williams (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - FltOff John C. Dillon, Jr (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Joseph R. Limoncello (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Lieut Joseph R Limoncello (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Kenneth Edgar Gamage (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Richard Herbert Ungemach (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - TSgt Manuel Madrigal (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt John C. "Jack" Rounds, Jr (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Harry Elmer Tressel (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Vernon Louis Bachman (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - John J. Hess (tablets of the missing)
Ken’s Men Against The Empire The Illustrated History of the 43rd Bombardment Group During World War II Volume II: October 1943 to 1945 B-24 Era (2019) pages 195 (map), 248-249 (March 7, 1945 mission), 361-362 (Personnel MIA), (380 (403rd BS)
Thanks to Lois Spencer for additional information

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Last Updated
March 14, 2020


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