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498th BS Oct 16, 1943
345th BG c1944
|Pilot 1st Lt. Ray Pannell, O-675111 (KIA, BR) Comanche County, OK
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Charles O. Blakemore, O-689188 (KIA, BR) Oklahoma City, OK
Engineer SSgt Pasquale Acampora, 31078297 (MIA / KIA) Worcester County, MA
Crashed June 11, 1944
Built by North American. Constructors Number 87-8189. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25D-5 Mitchell serial number 41-30024. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
During March 1943 assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 345th Bombardment Group (345th BG), 498th Bombardment Squadron (498th BS) at Port Moresby. Assigned to pilot Robert W. Judd with crew chief Bowen. Nicknamed "Red Wrath" with the squadron's eagle head motif on the nose.
On October 16, 1943 took off piloted by Captain Robert W. Judd as flight leader on mission against Boram Airfield near Wewak. Over the target, this B-25 was photographed in a series of photographs over anti-aircraft positions on ridge, dropping 100lbs wire wrapped bombs and strafing.
On November 2, 1943 flown by Judd with co-pilot Major Fridge on a mission against Rabaul escorted by 80th Fighter Squadron P-38s. Approaching the target, its formation was fired on by a destroyer over St. George's Channel. Over the target, escorting P-38s entered a dogfight with enemy aircraft while the B-25s strafed ships in the harbor.
During February 1944, claimed one enemy fighter shot down. In total, this B-25 flew at least 52 combat missions with the 498th Bombardment Squadron.
On April 8, 1944 transferred to the 500th Bombardment Squadron. Assigned to pilot Pannell. Renamed "Pannell Job" and painted with the squadron's tail marking and a white fuselage band.
On May 11, 1944 flew a bombing mission against Wakde Airfield and was photographed over the target.
On June 11, 1944 took off from Nadzab Airfield piloted by 1st Lt. Ray Pannell on a training mission to provide co-pilot Blakemore with takeoff and landing practice. This B-25 climbed to 5,000' then went into a descent crashed to the west of Nadzab, killing the entire the entire crew.
Recovery of Remains
Afterwards, the crash site was located and the remains of Blakemore and Pannell were recovered.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. As the mission was non-combat, none of the crew earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.
Acampora remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA). He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Postwar, Blakemore and Pannell were transported to the United States for permanent burial.
Blakemore was buried at Sunny Lane Cemetery, Del City, OK at section 4a, block 1, row 3, grave 23.
Pannell is buried at Highland Cemetery in Lawton, OK.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Ray Pannell
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25D-5 Mitchell 41-30024
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell 41-30024
Warpath Across The Pacific page 63, 64 (photo), 142 (photo) 161 (photo) 166 (photo), 216 (profile) 369, 381, 393, 417-418 "The circumstances of the crash were so mysterious that there were questions as to whether it may have been a suicide. There was a story that Pannell had recently received a 'Dear John' letter from his girl back in the States, but it seems unlikely that he would have chosen to take two crewmen down with him. But the incident did little to dispel the 500th's growing reputation as a 'suicide squadron'."
FindAGrave - 1LT Ray “Buddy” Pannell (obituary, grave photos)
FindAGrave - 2LT Charles O Blakemore (grave photos)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Pasquale Acampora
FindAGrave - SSgt Pasquale Acampora (tablets of the missing)
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