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|Pilot F/O John Alexander Johnston, T-000328 (MIA / KIA) CA
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. David W. Kimmey, O-747818 (MIA / KIA) Schoharie County, NY
Bombardier/Navigator 2nd Lt Frank Castillo, O-741832 (MIA / KIA) CA
Observer 1st Lt Peter Duval, O-728261 (MIA / KIA) MA
Engineer S/Sgt James L. Quinn, 32373700 (MIA / KIA) Albany, NY
Gunner SSgt James A. Wages, Jr., 20826151 (MIA / KIA) Marietta, OK
Radio SSgt James G. Walker, 35429070 (MIA / KIA) Pocahontas County, WV
Crashed January 19, 1944
Built by North American Aviation (NAA). Constructors Number 87-8778. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25D-20 Mitchell serial number 41-30613. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field to the Central Pacific.
Assigned to the 7th Air Force, 41st Bombardment Group, 396th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. When lost, engines R-2600-13 serial numbers 43-25543 and 42-272072. Aboard were twelve .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 1900 (MACR 1900).
On January 19, 1944 took off from Mullinix Airfield on Bonriki Island piloted by F/O John Alexander Johnston on a low level bombing and strafing mission against Mili Airfield on Mili Island. This B-25 was in the first wave. The weather was clear with visibility unlimited over the target area.
Approaching Mili Lagoon at an altitude of 75' to 100' exploding anti-aircraft shells damaged the forward part of the fuselage and cased it to crashed in the lagoon on the eastern side of Milli Island in front of the Japanese headquarters. Two of the crew were killed in the crash.
Captain Walter R. McClelland via MACR 1900 page 3:
"I certify that during the mission over Mille Island on 19 January 1944, airplane number 41-30613, in the first wave, was hit while over the target, bounced to the left up over the tail of airplane number 41-30621 and landed in the water near the shore line in the lagoon. The airplane was seen to coast on out into the water and stop alongside of a sunken hulk in the lagoon. No personnel was seen to get out of the airplane and no enemy fire was directed at the airplane in the water."
Fates of the Crew
A Japanese patrol boat picked up the five surviving crew members who were badly burned and injured from the impact. The five crew received medical treatment and were then brutally tortured and interrogated. After ten days, Japanese Army and Navy commanders beheaded all five. Postwar, the commanders were prosecuted for war crimes including this incident.
Located about a mile from shore, the bomber was discovered during an underwater survey in 2001 by Matt Holly.
Matt Holly adds:
"The aircraft is in excellent condition with the main fuselage and wings intact, however, the tail and engines evidently detached on impact and have not yet been found. The cockpit is also well-preserved with controls, gauge, pilots' seat, radios, top turret with twin 50 caliber machine gun shells, piles of live 50 caliber machine gun shells and both waist guns. The B-25 is protected by Marshall Islands law and the Mili Atoll Local Government has banned diving at the site until the aircraft has been thoroughly documented by the RMI Historical Preservation Office."
The entire crew was officially declared dead on February 2, 1944. Each crew member earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. The entire crew is memorialized at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing. Johnston, Kimmey, Castillo, Duval and Quinn on court 7. Wages and Walker on court 5.
Wages also has a memorial marker at Lakeview Cemetery in Marietta, OK.
Douglas Womack (cousin of Wages)
"James Alvin Wages, my father's cousin, was shot down on my father's birthday. My father, (then Tec 5) Douglas M. Womack, was serving in Mac Arthur's Headquarters at the time James was lost. Both men were from Marietta, Oklahoma."
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John A. Johnston
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - David W. Kimmey
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Frank Castillo
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Peter Duval
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - James L. Quinn
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - James A. Wages Jr
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - SSgt James G. Walker
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25D-20 Mitchell 41-30613
"30613 (41st BG, 396th BS) shot down Jan 19, 1944, Marshall Islands, Pacific. 2 crew KIA, 5 made POW but were executed by the Japanese. MACR 1900"
Missing Air Crew Report 1900 (MACR 1900) created January 19, 1944
NARA "World War II Prisoners of War Data File" does not list any of the crew as official Prisoner Of War (POWs)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) does not list James Lawrence Quinn or David Wellington
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John A. Johnston
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - David W. Kimmey
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank Castillo
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Peter Duval
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) does not list James L. Quinn
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James A. Wages Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James G. Walker
FindAGrave - Flt O John Alexander “Johnny” Johnston (photo, courts of the missing photos)
FindAGrave - 2Lt David W Kimmey (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Frank Castillo (courts of the missing photos)
FindAGrave - Lieut Peter Duval (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT James L. Quinn
FindAGrave - SSgt James A Wages, Jr (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - James Alvin Wages, Jr (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt James G Walker (courts of the missing photo)
CDNN "Research diver finds WWII B-25D "Mitchell" bomber in Mili Lagoon" January 25, 2002
Thanks to Matt Holly and Douglas Womack for additional information
Jan 19, 1944
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