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via Mark Wilson 1994
|Pilot 2nd Lt John J. Keeter, Jr., O-404019 (KIA, BR) Throckmorton County, TX
Co-Pilot Captain Glenwood G. Stephenson, O-23128 (KIA, BR) Milwaukee, WI
Navigator Lt Eugene T. Tisonyai (KIA, BR) Coshocton, OH
Bombardier T/Sgt William H. Lancaster, Jr (KIA, BR) East Nashville, TN
Engineer S/Sgt James P. English, 7000452 (KIA, BR) TN
Rear Gunner Sgt George C. De Armond (KIA, BR) Acy, LA
Gunner Sgt Jimmie Dale Morris (KIA, BR) Jonesboro, LA
Crashed April 21, 1942
Built by North American Aviation (NAA) in Inglewood as the twenty-second B-25C Mitchell manufactured. Constructors Number 82-5090. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25C Mitchell serial number 41-12455.
Purchased by the Netherlands for the Militaire Luchtvaart (ML-KNIL) Army Aviation Corps of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army for use in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) as B-25C Mitchell serial number N5-127. This bomber had Dutch insignia and serial number painted over the U.S. markings.. Flown by a Royal Air Force (RAF) Ferry Command aircrew overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia. On March 25, 1942 requisitioned back to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF). Instead, NEIAF B-25C serial number N5-127 was assigned to B-25C 41-12470.
On March 30, 1942 assigned to the 3rd Bombardment Group (3rd BG), 90th Bombardment Squadron (90th BS). No nose art or nickname. Assigned to pilots Wilson and 2nd Lt John J. Keeter, Jr. Assigned to crew chiefs Gatewood, De Armond and English.
On April 11, 1942 took off from Batchelor Field near Darwin piloted by Wilson with co-pilot 2nd Lt John J. Keeter, Jr. on the Royce Mission as one of nine B-25s with three B-17s on a flight 1,500 miles northward to Del Monte Airfield on Mindanao in the Philippines. On April 12, 1942 and April 13, 1942 one of nine B-25s plus three B-17s that bombed Cebu and Davao. Afterwards, flown back to Batchelor Field.
On April 21, 1942 took off from Charters Towers Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt John J. Keeter, Jr. with a bomb bay fuel tank on a flight to 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby to refuel then took off again on a a reconnaissance mission searching for Japanese warships prior to the Battle of the Coral Sea. Although higher ranking Captain Glenwood G. Stephenson was aboard, he flew as co-pilot because Keeter had more hours flying the B-25. This bomber flew a reconnaissance mission over "Area D" Madang then northward to Manus Island and back via Cape Glouchester in western New Britain then landed safely at 7 Mile Drome.
After refueling, took off again on a flight bound for Charters Towers Airfield. While returning in heavy clouds along the coast of Australia, this bomber turned inland and the sound of the engines were heard in the vicinity. At 9:00pm this B-25 crashed into Mount Bartle Frere in Queensland. Everyone aboard was killed in the crash roughly 300' from the summit at 5,000'. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). This aircraft was the first B-25 combat loss of the 90th Bombardment Squadron (90th BS) and 3rd Bombardment Group (3rd BG).
Recovery of Remains
On April 29, 1942 a search team located the crash site. At the crash, mutilated bodies of the crew that were burned in the fire after impact. At the crash site, they were buried in temporary graves. During early December 1942, Australian Ted Richards, took a pack of mules to the crash site and recovered the remains of the crew. On December 14, 1942 they were temporarily buried at Townsville Cemetery. Postwar, the remains of the crew were transported to the United States for permanent burial.
The crash site remains in situ on Mount Bartle Frere. During 1994, members of the Australian Army, RAAF and civilians visited the site as part of '"Exercise Relic Search", an operation which intended to locate the wreck for the potential future recovery of parts for the Australian War Memorial (AWM).
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission.
Keeter is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at Plot Q Row 0 Grave 625. He also has a memorial marker at Throckmorton Cemetery in Throckmorton, TX.
Stephenson is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at Plot E Row 0 Grave 841
English is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at Plot A Row 0 Grave 544.
Tisonyai is buried at South Lawn Cemetery in Coshocton, OH.
Lancaster is buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park.
DeArmond was buried in 1946 at Ponchatoula Cemetery in Ponchatoula, LA.
Morris was buried at Alexandria National Cemetery in Pineville, LA at plot E grave 52.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Eugene T. Tisonyai
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25C Mitchell 41-12455
"12455 (MSN 82-5090) to Netherlands East Indies as N5-133 Feb 17, 1942. Ferried to Australia but impressed Mar 25, 1942 by USAAF ans assigned to 3rd BG. Crashed into Mt. Bartle Frere, Queensland, Australia Apr 21, 1942. All 7 onboard killed."
Australia @ War - Crash of a B-25 Mitchell on Mount Bartle Frere, Qld
Australian Army Newspaper "Diggers take on mountain of death" by Noel Gilby 1994
FindAGrave - John J Keeter, Jr (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut John Keeter, Jr (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Capt Glenwood G Stephenson (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Eugene T Tisonyai (grave photo)
FindAGrave - William Henry Lancaster, Jr (photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt James P English (grave photos)
FindAGrave - George C DeArmond (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Jimmie D Morris (grave photo)
Harvest of the Grim Reapers Volume I (2019) pages 148 (Royce Mission), 158, 159-160 (April 21, 1942), 169, 464 (90th BS, 41-12455), 455 (April 21, 1942 crew list), 514 (index Keeter)
Thanks to Mark Wilson and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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