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  B-24 Liberator Serial Number ?  
13th AF
5th BG
31st BS
September 1945

Pilot  Captain Lewis W. Haire, O-793323 (MIA / KIA) Memphis, TN
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. John H. Bauwens, O-684238 (rescued)
Navigator  1st Lt. William F. Halle, O-793323 (MIA / KIA) Detroit, MI
Bombardier  1st Lt. Walter F. Henthorn, O-733567 (MIA / KIA) Buffalo, NY
Engineer  SSgt Escoe E. Palmer (POW, survived) Gainsville, GA
Asst Engineer  Sgt Martin W. Lund, 12131953 (rescued)
Radio  T/Sgt Clarence F. Marcy, 3721223 (rescued)
Asst Radio / Ball Turret  Cpl Reuben Silver, 16070308 (MIA / KIA) Brookfield, IL
Gunner  SSgt Ellis J. Hammaker, 33230949 (MIA / KIA) Penbrook, PA
Gunner  SSgt Malven J. Houtz, 13145621 (MIA / KIA) Belleforte, PA
Photographer  SSgt Harold T. Flanagan, 39157425 (MIA / KIA) Los Angeles, CA

Crashed  March 5, 1944
MACR  15147

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to the South Pacific.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 5th Bombardment Group, 31st Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On March 5, 1944 took off from Munda Airfield on New Georgia on a bombing mission against Rapopo Airfield near Rabaul. Over the target after making the bomb run this B-24 was executing a wide right turn when it suffered two direct hits from anti-aircraft fire, possibly 40mm anti-aircraft shells. The first impacted the nose and the second hit the main gas tank.

The bomber immediately caught fire and several seconds later exploded in mid-air while on a southeasterly course about five miles off the coast of New Britain. Four of the crew managed to bail out or were blown out by the blast and successfully deployed their parachutes.

Fates of the Crew
Crew member Palmer was the only member of the crew that bailed out of the damaged bomber. His parachute landed on New Britain and he managed to evaded capture until March 13 when he was captured by a Japanese Army patrol and transported to Rabaul where he became a Prisoner of War (POW). Imprisoned by the Japanese Army 6th Kempei Tai (military police) at Tunnel Hill POW Camp. Palmer survived the war.

When the B-24 exploded, three other members of the crew: Bauwens, Marcey and Lund were blown out of the bomber when it exploded. Each was wearing their parachute and managed to successfully parachute into the sea. Several hours later, all three were rescued by a RNZAF PBY Catalina. All were later transported to a US Navy hospital ship off Christmas Island to recover. The other seven crew members are presumed to have gone down with the B-24.

The deceased crew members were officially declared dead on the day of the mission. Each is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Missing In Action (MIA): Haire, Halle, Henthorn, Silver, Hammaker, Houtz and Flanagan.

Halle has a memorial marker at Great Lakes National Cemetery at section MS1 site 149.
Hammaker has a memorial marker at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery at Section MA Site 82

Missing Air Crew Report 15147 (MACR 15147) states three crew were rescued by US Navy Catalina, sic RNZAF Catalina
Escoe E. Palmer AG 704 file states the bomber was over Tolara (sic, Tobera Airfiled)
FindAGrave - William Frank Halle (grave photo)

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Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
February 4, 2018


Tech Information

7 Missing
1 Prisoner

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