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|Pilot 1st Lt. Harlan L. Reid, O-433398 (POW / MIA / KIA) NC
Co-Pilot Captain Raymond A. Tabb, O-431570 (POW / MIA / KIA) Blair, OK
Gunner Sgt Ray E. Smith, 13059049 (MIA / KIA) OH
Radio Cpl Robert L. Lemons (WIA / KIA, BR) OH
Ditched June 21, 1943
Built by North American in Inglewood. Constructors Number 82-5615. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25C Mitchell serial number 41-12980. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 3rd Bombardment Group (3rd BG), 8th Bombardment Squadron (8th BS). Nicknamed "Geronimo".
On June 21, 1943 took off from Dobodura Airfield at 12:05am on an armed reconnaissance to search for Japanese barge activity at night along the north coast of New Guinea between Buna and Saidor. This B-25 was hit by anti-aircraft fire and ditched into the sea to the north of Sio. Aboard, Lemons was wounded by the anti-aircraft fire in his groin and left knee.
Fates of the Crew
The entire crew survived the crash and swam ashore. Smith drown while crossing a river north of Sio, his body washed out to sea and has never been found. Lemons died of his wounds and was buried at Nambariwa (Nabarowa).
The Japanese Army troops in the early learned about the presence of the survivors and captured Reid and Tabb who became Prisoners Of War (POW). Both were transported to Madang and were likely detained Kempeitai at Amron. Both were likely interrogated, tortured and executed sometime afterwards.
Recovery of Remains
During February 1944 Lt. MacGregor of the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) investigated a native report that there was a grave of an American airmen at Nambariwa at roughly Lat 5.56 South, Long 147.22 East. Interviewing the locals, they reported seeing an American bomber hit over Kalasa and ditched into the sea north of Sio, and that four crew members swam ashore. While crossing the river north of Sio, one man (Smith) drowned and his body was washed out to sea. Another was wounded in the groin and left knee and later died of his wounds. After buring their comrade, 1st Lt. Harlan L. Reid and Captain Raymond A. Tabb were captured by the Japanese and transported to Madang.
Postwar, the grave at Nambariwa was disinterred and temporarily buried as "Unknown X-1" at USAF Cemetery at Finschafen, No. 1 at grave 50. Later, these remains were subsequently identified as Cpl Lemons. His remains were identified by the field by the laundry marking "R. L." on his flight jacket, physical characteristics and a dental comparison from his army records.
War crimes investigations revealed that a number of American prisoners were executed at Amron in June 1943. While it was possible that the surviving two airmen from this crew may have been among those executed, information available was considered insufficient to determine if this was the case. Search and recovery activities failed to find any trace of Reid, Tabb or Smith and their remains were determined non-recoverable. All three remain Missing In Action (MIA).
Reid, Tabb and Smith were officially declared dead on January 8, 1946. All three are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Reid also has a memorial marker at Lineberry United Methodist Church Cemetery in Denton, NC. After the recovery and identification of Lemon, his remains were transported to the United States. During July 1948 he was permanently buried at Standing Rock Cemetery in Kent, OH.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Raymond A. Tabb
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25C Mitchell 41-12980
"12980 MIA Jun 23, 1943"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harlan L. Reid
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Raymond A. Tabb
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ray E. Smith
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell piloted by Reid
FindAGrave - 1LT Harlan Loflin Reid (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Harlan Lofin Reid (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Capt Raymond A Tabb (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Ray E Smith (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Corp Robert L. Lemons (grave photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis
MIA / POW
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