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3rd BG c1942 via Hickey
Bennett May 24, 2001
|Pilot 1st Lt Robert F. Miller, O-431470 (MIA / KIA) Greene County, MO
Co-Pilot 1st Lt Francis H. Frey, O-438572 (MIA / KIA) Franklin County, OH
Bombardier SSgt Harvel D. Brown, 6970977 (MIA / KIA) Sabine Parish, LA
Turret Gunner SSgt Robert Small, 11015334 (MIA / KIA) Cascade, NH
Radio/Gunner SSgt Thomas D. Goodman, 6389947 (MIA / KIA) Richmond County, NC
Passenger SSgt Oscar H. Biddle, Jr., 6991402 (MIA / KIA) Cuyahoga County, OH
Crashed October 30, 1942
Built by North American. Constructors Number 87-7892. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) B-25D Mitchell serial number 41-29731. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 90th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Lil De Icer" in yellow cursive with a white shadow on the lower edge. The nose art above was a woman in a flying position with her arms outstretched and hair behind atop a white cloud on the left side of the nose. When lost, engine and weapon serial numbers not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 16429 (MACR 16429).
On October 30, 1942 at 1:00pm took off from 17-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt Robert F. Miller on an armed reconnaissance mission armed with two bombs. The mission plan was to fly over Gasmata on the southern coast of New Britain then over Lae and Buna on the north coast of New Guinea then to return via Hood Point. This B-25 was last seen on take off. When this bomber failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). In fact, this B-25 crashed near Mimia (Mimai, Mimias) in the vicinity of Myola near the Kokoda Gap in the Owen Stanley Range.
This B-25 impacted a forested area causing an impact near Mimia (Mimai, Mimias) to the southeast of Myola near the Kokoda Gap in the Owen Stanley Range. Likely, this bomber was flying from southeast to northeast when it crashed, based on the debris filed. Also, ordnance was likely aboard when it impacted and the explosion caused an impact crater.
Between 1961–1991, the crash site was visited by teams from the U. S. Army on at least four occasions:
1) During 1961, while a U.S. Army team was involved in a major search effort in the area of C-47 "The Flying Dutchman" 41-18564 and B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2505 both crashed on Mount Obree. During their investigation, this crash site was visited and incorrectly identified as a "B-26 Marauder", despite the fact the wreckage included a three bladed propeller.
During the 1980s, PNG Museum modern history curator Bruce Hoy recommended this crash site for further investigation by US Army CILHI based on the fact that the 1961 report contained conflicting information; a 3-bladed propeller and the mention that the aircraft was that of a B-26, an aircraft type with four bladed propellers. Based on Bruce Hoy's reputation and insistence this crash site was slated for further investigation.
2) Between March 28-30, 1988, the crash site was investigated by a team from US Army CILHI led by Captain Benny Woodard with team members Tommy Baughman, Sgt Bunch and PNG Museum modern history curator Bruce Hoy. This site was designated as site #64. The team made a preliminary investigation of the crash site, and located a boot and inside it were the remains of a toe or foot bone. During this visit, Bruce Hoy found "12" two digits of the tail serial. Also, hand written "#84" on one of the wings and "Fitted to Ship #84" on a channel assembly. Likely these markings were from the factory. On March 30, 1988 Sgt Bunch made a photographic survey of the site and the team and were helicoptered out of the site during the morning in several trips.
3) Between May 13-16 1991 another US Army CILHI team led by Captain Bill Hudson, Dr. Miller, Sgt Robinson, Sgt Torix with PNG Museum modern history curator Bruce Hoy visited the B-25 crash site and continued investigations. During this mission, the impact crater was drained and a skirmish line search was conducted down the slope towards the nearby creek. Bruce Hoy found a small section of wing with "Fitted Ship #84" written in grease pencil or crayon, likely at the factory. On May 16, 1991 at 2:32pm the B-25 crash site was "closed" and the team departed by helicopter the next day.
4) During late May 2001 another US Army CILHI team with Brian Bennett accessed the site by helicopter and extensively investigation the crash site using pumps to drain the ground water and screening stations for soil excavated. The results of this field effort are unknown.
The boot with remains inside recovered during late March 1988 have not been identified to date. The six crew member associated with this bomber remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
The entire crew was officially declared dead on December 20, 1945. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Miller earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Frey earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.
Brown earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Prewitt's Chapel Cemetery in Hornbeck, LA.
Small earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.
Goodman earned the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, posthumously.
Biddle earned the Silver Star, Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Crown Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum in Twinsburg, OH.
Theresa Letarte (niece of Robert Small)
Randy (nephew of Harvel D. Brown)
"My name is Randy, and live in Hornbeck, LA. I am the Nephew of SSgt. Harvel D. Brown who went missing on a B-25D SN 41-29731, "Lil De Icer", with the 3rd Bomber Group of the 90th Bomber Squadron on Oct 30, 1942. My sister had started doing research and had attended a couple of meetings, 1 in Jackson, MS and one in Baton Rouge, LA. She gave me the Web Site for Pacific Wrecks and when I went and looked at all the time and work they had spent locating our POW/MIA's I immediately knew I had to become a member. Being a Viet Nam veteran myself and with friends still missing and listed as MIA's it makes me sad to think of those who gave all, to protect the rights and freedom of all of our great nation, and are still missing. We should never rest until all of our loved ones are brought home. Let us keep our missing and the wonderful people who is working so hard to locate our loved ones in our daily prayers."
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Robert F. Miller
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Francis H. Frey
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Robert Small
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25D Mitchell 41-29731
Missing Air Crew Report 16429 (MACR 16429) created retroactively circa 1945-1946
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell 41-29731
Bruce Hoy Diary 8 November 1985 (writing USAF Museum Wright Double Row Cyclone 14 engines with serial numbers 41-27825 and 41-31922 believed to be associated with B-25 Mitchell investigated in 1961)
Bruce Hoy Diary December 31, 1986 (writing to CILHI suggesting closer investigation of B-25 Mitchell from 1961)
Bruce Hoy Diary October 31, 1987 (writing Benny Woodard about B-25 Mitchell at Mimai River)
Bruce Hoy Diary February 4, 1988 (helicopter flight to Mimai and discussions with locals)
Bruce Hoy Diary March 28, 1988 (helicopter to B-25 crash, determined not a B-26 as 1961 team identified)
Bruce Hoy Diary March 29, 1988 (B-25 crash, finding tail serial "12" and hand written "#84" and boot with remains)
Bruce Hoy Diary March 30, 1988 (B-25 crash departure, researching #84 presumed identification as 41-29731)
Bruce Hoy Diary April 14, 1988 (report to LTC Webb at CILHI about B-25 crash identification as 41-29731)
Bruce Hoy Diary October 18, 1988 (debriefing related to B-25 at Minmai, Bruce Hoy report to CILHI)
Bruce Hoy Diary March 15, 1989 (letter to Woodward proposing permission survey to B-25 Mimai, never actioned)
Bruce Hoy Diary May 9, 1991 (helicopter to Mimai village, unable to find 1988 LZ due to clouds, new LZ required)
Bruce Hoy Diary May 13, 1991 (helicopter to B-25 crash, establish camp and investigation)
Bruce Hoy Diary May 14, 1991 (B-25 crash found "Fitted Ship #84", crash direction, CILHI analyst)
Bruce Hoy Diary May 15, 1991 (B-25 crash finding tail serial digit "3", identification as 41-29731, CILHI analyst)
Bruce Hoy Diary May 16, 1991 (B-25 crash site found cockpit instrument, site closed at 2:32pm)
Bruce Hoy Diary May 17, 1991 (B-25 crash site departure and helicopter LZ)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert F. Miller
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Francis H. Frey
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harvel D. Brown
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert Small
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Thomas D. Goodman
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Oscar H. Biddle, Jr.
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert F Miller (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Francis H Frey (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Harvel D Brown (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Harvel Dale Brown (memorial marker photos)
FindAGrave - SSgt Robert Small (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSGT Thomas D Goodman (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Oscar H Biddle, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Oscar Henry Biddle, Jr (memorial marker photo)
National WWII Memorial - WWII Registry: Robert Small
"Enlisted November 16, 1940. Trained with 3rd Bomber Group, 90th Bombardment Squadron. Home on leave December 7, 1941 - ordered back. Sent to the Pacific, armed reconnaissance mission from Port Moresby, New Guinea to Lae Airdrome, Gasmata and Hood, New Guinea."
Thanks to Bruce Hoy, Brian Bennett, Larry Hickey and Edward Rogers and for additional information
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