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  B-25C "The Cajun" Serial Number 41-12441  
5th AF
3rd BG
13th BS

Pilot  Major Herman F. Lowery, O-21622 (MIA / KIA) Hattiesburg, MS
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt, Sidney W. Jacobson, O-431455 (MIA / KIA) Shreveport, LA
Bombardier  T/Sgt William B. Wherry, 6246992 (MIA / KIA) Tennessee Colony, TX
Engineer  Sgt Carlos E. Spillers, 6970874 (MIA / KIA) Monroe, LA
Lower Gunner  Cpl Noah Fresquez, 19012349 (MIA / KIA) Oakland, CA
Crew  Sgt Wesley J. Hayes, 6579604 (MIA / KIA) Douglas County, OR
Passenger  S/L Maxwell Vernon Lewis, 224 RAAF (MIA / KIA) Perth, WA

MIA  May 25, 1942
MACR 15969

Aircraft History
Built by North American Aviation (NAA) in Inglewood. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25C Mitchell serial number 41-12441. This B-25 was ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 13th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "The Cajun".

Mission History
On May 25, 1942 at 5:00am took off from Cooktown Airfield piloted by Major Herman F. Lowery as one of five B-25s that flew northward to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby to arm and refuel. A fifth B-25 piloted by 1st Lt. Roland Birnn became stuck while taxing and was unable to take off in time.

By midday, one of eight B-25s that took off from 7-Mile Drome piloted by Major Herman F. Lowery on a bombing mission against Lae Airfield. Aboard was Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) S/L Lewis who was selected by the air office to be the air liaison officer in conjunction with the Australian Army commando raid at Salamaua.

Attacking Lae Airfield at 2:50pm, the first flight of four B-25s from the 13th Bombardment Squadron led by Lowrey attacked first, followed by the second flight of four B-25s from the 90th Bombardment Squadron. Their plan was to attack from the west to east finishing their attack over the Huon Gulf then turning right over Salamaua then back to Port Moresby.

Over the target, the formation experienced heavy anti-aircraft fire and was intercepted by thirteen A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai intercepted, including six A6M2 Zeros that had taken off on a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) then joined by seven more A6M2 Zeros that intercepted the B-25s. Lost was A6M2 Zero piloted by Watanabe (MIA).

This B-25 was last seen on fire and likely crashed into the sea in flames. Witnesses reported that none of the crew was seen to parachute out before the crash.

When this B-25 failed to return the entire crew was declared Missing In Action (MIA). In total, five B-25s were lost, this aircraft plus B-25C Mitchell 41-12448 (MIA) and B-25C Mitchell 41-12450 (MIA) and B-25C Mitchell 41-12466 (MIA, 1 rescued) and B-25C Mitchell 41-12498 (rescued).

The entire crew was declared dead the day of the mission. The entire crew earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Lewis is memorialized on the Lae Memorial, panel 6 at the Lae War Cemetery.

Hayes also has a memorial marker at Glendale Memorial Cemetery in Glendale, OR.
Spillers also has a memorial marker at Aulds Chapel Cemetery in Ouachita Parish, LA.

Carl Skiba (nephew of Jacobson)

Patricia M. Cantrell (niece of Herman F. Lowery)
"He was from Hattiesburg, MS. He was my mother's only brother. He may have spoken to a cousin or one of my aunts. I have a cousin who has made inquiries and has done some research, Mary Howard."

Earl Bradshaw (cousin of Carlos Spillers)
"I've again started searching for information about my Uncle Carlos Spillers. I had started this effort a few short years ago, but due to back to back to back life events I had to put it on hold. My mother has always questioned whether Carlos actually went down with his plane and died or whether he survived. She swore until she passed that she had gotten a few phone calls during the night from him through the years with him just asking how everyone was doing. I have his dog tag, which was given to her many years ago by someone who served with Carlos. I hope to compile as much as I can about Carlos and to share that with my entire family. I hope that his memory will carry on in that manner since it cannot through children. Gerry Kersey and Edward Rogers were a great help to me at the time I started this effort and they had sent out some emails looking for feedback to me. I spoke with Vernon Main in a short phone conversation and was able to get a little information from him, but before I could visit with him, sadly, he passed away. He was a close friend who enlisted with my uncle. I have a flight booked February 15th to Washington to visit with Edward Conner. Though he did not know my uncle, he offered to take me to The Pentagon to do a little research and share some photos and knowledge of my uncles time in New Guinea. I found some information on your web site and in a few other places."

New "Former Barksdale Fliers Get D.S.C."
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25C Mitchell 41-12441
"12441 (MSN 82-5076) to Netherlands Indies AF as N5-154 Mar 1, 1942 but ferried to Australia and impressed Mar 27, 1942 by USAAF and assigned to 3rd BG. Shot down by fighters during attack on Lae May 25, 1942"
Kodochosho, Tainan Kōkūtai, May 25, 1942
Missing Air Crew Report 15969 (MACR 15969) was created retroactively circa 1945-1946
13th Bombardment Squadron History
RAAF Searcher Team S/Ldr Rundle report, August 12, 1946
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Herman F. Lowery
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Sidney W. Jacobson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William B. Wherry
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Carlos E. Spillers
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Noah Fresquez
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Wesley J. Hayes
CWGC - Maxwell Vernon Lewis
FindAGrave - Maj Herman F Lowery (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Sidney W Jacobson (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt William B Wherry (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Carlos E Spillers (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - CPL Noah Fresquez (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Wesley J Hayes (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Wesley James Hayes, Jr (photo, memorial marker)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell 41-12441
Eagles of the Southern Sky pages 144, 146, 168-169, 310 (Losses by date), 332 (victories), 346 (index, Lowrey)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
December 5, 2020


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