|Pilot Captain William L. Uhler, O-660013 (MIA / KIA) Pasadena, MD
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Owen H. Salvage, O-798033 (POW, executed Aug 31, 1943, BR) Valley Stream, NY
Navigator 1st Lt. Donnelly R. McMillan, O-660876 (MIA / KIA) Parks, AZ
Radio S/Sgt. Joseph H. McDonough, 13012101 (MIA / KIA) East Pittsburgh, PA
Gunner S/Sgt. Gerard H. Fortier, 11037020 (MIA / KIA) Central Falls, RI
Ditched August 2, 1943
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 38th Bombardment Group, 71st Bombardment Group. No known nose art or nickname. No known nose art or nickname. When lost, engines R-2600-13 serial numbers 41-29308 and 41-29400. Weapon serial numbers unknown.
On August 2, 1943 took off from 17 Mile Drome (Durand) near Port Moresby on a barge sweep near Madang. On the way to the target, enemy aircraft attacked the formation forcing the B-25’s to seek a tight formation. As pilot Uhler approached a formation of three B-25’s, number 1 aircraft of that formation, nor knowing he had acquired wing men, banked sharply to the right. Captain Uhler could not bank sharply enough and tore the left wing tip of his aircraft upon hitting the right fuselage of number 2 aircraft.
After the collision, Uhler’s aircraft appeared to land on a reef and was partially out of the water when last seen. The tail of the plane was seen to drag through the water for about fifty feet. Location was said to be two miles north of Kepler Point, located to the east of Astrolabe Bay, about sixty miles from Madang. No survivors were seen to emerge from the plane, but the other aircraft were traveling so fast so as to evade the enemy fighters, there was a possibility the crew could not have been seen by the other crews.
Walt Deas adds:
"Loss also reported at Kelona Village area of Wald Bay. Wald Bay may be Wab Bay. On modern maps Kepler Point is sometimes called Cape Iris. All confusing!"
Fates of the Crew
Four of the crew died in the crash. Salvage survived and was captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW) and was transported to the Kempei Tai headquarters at Amron. On August 31, 1943 at Amron five American airmen: four from B-25D 41-30118 and 2nd Lt. Owen Salvage were escorted to a killing ground and soldiers took turns bayoneting them to death. Possibly, Uhler was also taken prisoner.
Post war affidavit L/Cpl Yasukuni Tani (clerk, Kempei Tai at Amron) states:
“The actual execution was to be three prisoners by Kempei Tai and two by headquarters Sentry Guard Unit. However, 1st Lt. Matsumoto’s Kempei Tai members said, “We will execute the three prisoners for the revenge of the death of our comrade, Cpl Nakano. This Matsumoto’s Unit had a conflict several weeks ago at Kesa village, which is located at the head of the Ramu River. The three prisoners were blindfolded and escorted down the mountain to the execution ground by the Kempei Tai members and Sgt Major Kawawa, Cpl Ishikawa and S. Pvt Ozawa. After about 20 minutes had elapsed, Matsumoto’s Kempei Tai group came back and said, “The execution is over now, we will proceed back immediately” and walked towards Kempei Tai Headquarters."
Uhler may have been taken prisoner at Lae, if so ultimate fate unknown by he did not survive the war. The rest of the crew likely died aboard the B-25.
The four missing crew members were officially declared dead January 12, 1946. All four are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Post war, the remains of Salvage were recovered and transported back to the United States. Savage is buried at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale, NY at lot 18.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William L. Uhler
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Donnelly R. McMillan
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joseph H. McDonough
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Gerard G. Fortier
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25D Mitchell 41-30221
The Bomber Reef a DVD by Walt Deas covers the execution of the other B-25 crew
Death At Amron by Walt Deas
FindAGrave - Owen H. Salvage (grave photo)
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May 13, 2019