|Pilot 1st Lt. Wallace R. Montgomery, O-664036 (MIA / KIA) Ardmore, OK
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Richard S. Buehler, O-463434 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY
Navigator 2nd Lt. Joseph J. Grudzis, O-2068521 (MIA / KIA) Pawtucket, RI
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Donald R. Reed, O-718067 (MIA / KIA) Westfield, NJ
Engineer Sgt Edward J. Anclin, Jr., 38197195 (MIA / KIA) White Castle, LA
Asst. Engineer Cpl Allen L. Bidwell, 32823938 (MIA / KIA) Seymour, CT
Radio Sgt John E. Brand, 32165533 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY
Asst. Radio Cpl Donald E. Chaney, 37723833 (MIA / KIA) Bigelow, MS
Armoror/Gunner Cpl George A. Roder, 31265646 (MIA / KIA) Keene, NH
Gunner Cpl Bernard G. Whitworth, 38459948 (MIA / KIA) Corpus Christi, TX
Passenger S2c Gerald G. Barrett, 8806521 (MIA / KIA)
Crashed March 12, 1945
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 5485.
Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24L-10-CO Liberator serial number 44-41549. This bomber had a natural aluminum finish. Ferried across the Pacific via Hickam Field to the South Pacific.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 5th Bombardment Group, 23rd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Maiden Montana" as all four officers initially assigned to this bomber were from Montana. The nickname was painted in red capital letters. The nose art was a topless girl wearing a white cowboy hat, vest, skirt with a pistol in a holster and white cowboy boots, in front of the black outline of the state of Montana. Below the left side of the cockpit was a scoreboard with red bomb markings indicating bombing missions flown plus three Japanese rising sun flags indicating enemy aircraft claimed by gunners. "549" was painted on the left side of the nose, the last three digits of the serial number.
When lost, engines R1830-65 serial numbers BP-456442, 42-90609, BP-456720 and 42-87623. Aboard were ten .50 caliber machine guns, weapon serial numbers not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 13311 (MACR 13311).
On March 12, 1945 at 6:58am took off from Guiuan Airfield on Samar Island piloted by 1st Lt. Wallace R. Montgomery armed with fifteen 300 pound bombs with instantaneous fuses. This bomber was one of six B-24s on a bombing mission led by 1st Lt. Robert B. McCutcheon against Abteleil Plantation near Sarangani Bay on southern Mindanao Island. After take off, one of the other B-24s aborted the mission due to a leak in the fuel tank.
Weather was .10 cumulus alto stratus clouds at 8,000' with visibility of zero. Inbound to the target, the formation became separated due to extremely adverse weather condition. Last seen at 8:45am entering a cloud formation and did not reappear between Samar and Mindanao at roughly Lat 8° 10' N, Long 125° 00' E.
Just before reaching the target area, the formation leader 1st Lt. Robert B. McCutcheon, O-827882 radio contact with this bomber and was told by pilot Montgomery that he could see the formation ahead of him and would catch up. But, this bomber was never seen again nor was there any further radio communication from it, despite attempts to reach it while the rest of the formation flew back to base.
When this aircraft failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was B-24L 44-49840 (MIA).
When this aircraft was declared missing, the officer in charge of the search was Captain Kenneth G. Adams, O-696305. On March 14, 1945 two B-24 from the squadron searched for the missing bomber for three hours without result. On March 15, 1945 a single B-24 from the squadron searched for three hours without results.
Recovery of Remains
Afterwards, the remains of the crew were recovered and initially buried in the Philippines then transported to the United States for permanent burial.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. On June 10, 1952 the crew were buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at section 85, site 98.
Reed also has a memorial marker at Woodhill Cemetery in Franklin, OH at section 2, lot 63.
Bidwell also has a memorial marker at Seymour Union Cemetery in Seymour, CT.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Wallace R. Montgomery
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records -
Joseph J. Grudzis
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Allen L. Bidwell
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - George A. Roder
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24L Liberator 44-41549
"41549 (5th BG) lost Mar 12, 1945. MACR 13311"
Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - B-24D Liberator 44-41549
Missing Air Crew Report 13311 (MACR 13311) created March 14, 1945
FindAGrave - 1LT Wallace R Montgomery (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Richard Stewart Buehler (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Joseph J Grudzis (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Donald R Reed (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Donald Randolph Reed (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - SGT Edward J Anclin, Jr (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - CPL Allen L Bidwell (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Allen L. Bidwell (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - John E. Brand (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - CPL Donald Edward Chaney (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - CPL George A Roder (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - CPL Bernard G Whitworth (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Gerald Glen Barrett (group burial photo)
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February 17, 2019