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  B-25D-5 "Slapsy" Serial Number 41-30165  
5th AF
345th BG
499th BS

Former Assignment
22nd BG
2nd BS
33rd BS

Pilot  2nd Lt Howard F. Rhode, O-804401 (KIA, BR) NJ
Co-Pilot  2/Lt James G. Awenius, O-691078 (KIA, BR) CO
Engineer  S/Sgt Jack A. Kleeb, 35680223 (KIA, BR) Newport, KY
Radio  S/Sgt Harold L. Nelson, 36730178 (KIA, BR)
Passenger  1st Lt. Jack Hoopes, O-561301 (KIA, BR) Marysville, OH
Passenger  Sgt Raymond V. Farmer, 15043664 (KIA, BR) IN
Crashed  May 9, 1944
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by North American. Constructors Number 87-8330. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25D-5 Mitchell serial number 41-30165. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 22nd Bombardment Group, 33rd Bombardment Squadron. Later, assigned the 2nd Bombardment Squadron. Afterwards, transferred to 345th Bombardment Group, 499th Bombardment Squadron on January 31, 1944. Nicknamed "Slapsy" with crew chief Sing.

Mission History
On May 9, 1944 took off from Nadzab Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt Howard F. Rhode on a mission to test defensive search lights in the area. When the search lights began tracking this B-25, it suddenly dove straight down and was tracked as it descended until it crashed into the ground killing the entire crew on impact. Likely, the pilots became blinded by the searchlight beams. The searchlight beams and crash were observed by hundreds in the area.

The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Afterwards, the bodies of the crew were recovered from the crash site and initially buried in New Guinea.

Postwar, two of the crew were buried at Manila American Cemetery Rhode at plot L, row 13, grave 32. Farmer at plot C row 14 grave 44. Awenius was buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) grave details unknown.

Kleeb was buried in Saint Stephen Cemetery in Fort Thomas, Kentucky on June 22, 1948.

Hoopes is buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Marysville, OH at section F, lot 147.

Details on Nelson are unknown, but presumed to be buried in private cemeteries.

William C. Hoopes (nephew)
"My uncle, 1st Lt. Jack C. Hoopes was a passenger along with 4 other crewmen on this aircraft. Through relatives I've been told my uncle's remains were never recovered, although they buried an empty coffin in my hometown. I'm currently obtaining official military records of my uncle to find out the exact disposition of his body and 4 other aircraft crew members. He was from Marysville, Ohio, age 25"

USAF Serial Number Search Results - North American B-25D-5 Mitchell 41-30165
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25D Mitchell 41-30165
Warpath Across the Pacific pages 100, 144, 369, 387
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Howard F. Rhode
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Raymond V. Farmer
FindAGrave - 2Lt Howard F Rhode (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2Lt James G. Awenius (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Jack Alexander Kleeb (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Harold L Nelson (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Jack C Hoopes (photos, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Raymond V Farmer (tablets of the missing)

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Last Updated
May 7, 2019


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