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345th BG 1943
Brian Bennett 2001
|Pilot 1st Lt. Thomas R. Finnegan, O-675189 (MIA / KIA, BR) MA
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Richard C. Anderson, O-799726 (MIA / KIA) NY
Navigator 2nd Lt Dean W. Class, O-685540 (MIA / KIA, BR) KS
Engineer SSgt Robert A. Lind, 16021988 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Radio Pvt Alfred E. Clarke, 13043668 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Gunner Sgt John L. White, 20101211 (MIA / KIA) MA
Crashed March 13, 1944 at 10:35am
Built by North American Aviation (NAA). Constructors Number 87-8829. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25D-20 Mitchell serial number 41-30664. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
During August 1943 assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 22nd Bombardment Group (22nd BG), 2nd Bombardment Squadron (2nd BS). Assigned to pilot Larson with crew chief Chirico. Nicknamed "How's Your Ole' Tomato" with the nose art of a seated nude figure, and "How's Your" in a smaller font and "Ole" Tomato" outlined in white in a larger font. Nose number 14 was painted on the left side of the nose.
On October 5, 1943 participated in its first combat mission. In total, flew 57 combat missions in New Guinea. The scoreboard included a submarine silhouette claimed as sunk.
On November 5, 1943 took off piloted by F/O Earl F. Larson on a bombing mission against Japanese positions in the upper Faria Valley and bombed below clouds on the target area marked by artillery smoke shells to support Australian Army soldiers in the area.
Converted into a B-25D-1 strafer variant by 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field in Townsville. On January 31, 1944 transferred to the 345th Bombardment Group (345th BG) "Air Apaches", 500th Bombardment Squadron (500th BS) "Rough Raiders". When lost, engines R-2600-13 serial numbers (left) 42-77995 (right) 42-77523. Weapon makers and serial numbers not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 13823 (MACR 13823).
On March 13, 1944 took off from Nadzab Airfield No. 3 (APO 713 Unit 1) piloted by 1st Lt. Thomas R. Finnegan on a training mission with a crew from the 499th Bombardment Squadron (499th BS). The weather was reported as very good with unlimited visibility. After take off, this B-25 dived straight into the ground and crashed roughly 16 miles west-south-west of Nadzab. The entire crew was killed instantly.
That afternoon, an extensive search was flown between Lae and Gusap. Fellow pilot Captain Speicher located the crash site from the air. On March 17, 1944 an L-5 flew to the vicinity of the crash site aboard an L-5 and found the bodies of the crew in an advance state of decomposition.
Recovery of Remains
Later, a U.S. Army graves registration party visited the crash site to recover the remains of the crew, and buried temporarily buried them in New Guinea. Postwar, their remains were transported to the Philippines and United States for permanent burial.
This bomber crashed near Chivasing plantation and cattle station in the Markham Valley near Nadzab.
During 2004, this crash site was investigated by Brian Bennett for JPAC. Locals turned over a full set of remains and dog tag of Robert A. Lind, 16021988. Also a portion of the cockpit section with bomb markings was found.
Brian Bennett adds:
"Lind's remains recovered were significant and with dog tag and were in the middle of the crash impact area and just slightly sub-surface."
The entire crew was declared dead the day of the mission. None of the crew earned the Purple Heart, posthumously as the crash was non-combat.
Finnegan earned the Air Medal. He is buried at Manila American Cemetery at Plot B Row 6 Grave 164.
Anderson earned the Air Medal. He is buried at Manila American Cemetery at Plot D Row 11 Grave 203.
Class is buried at Manila American Cemetery at Plot F Row 8 Grave 55.
Lind is buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery at section C-1 site 7402.
Clarke is buried Arlington National Cemetery at section 4, site 2678.
White is buried at Manila American Cemetery at Plot L Row 8 Grave 128.
Note, during May 1944, the 22nd Bomb Group (22nd BG) had another bomber with a similar nickname B-24J "Ole Tomato" 42-100291 until crashed September 1, 1944
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25D-20 Mitchell 41-30664
"30664 (345th BG) lost Feb 12, 1944, SW Pacific. MACR 13823"
Missing Air Crew Report 13823 (MACR 13823) created March 15, 1944
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Thomas R. Finnegan
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Richard C. Anderson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Dean W. Class
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John L. White
FindAGrave - 1Lt Thomas R Finnegan (grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Richard C Anderson (Manila American Cemetery)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Dean W Class (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Robert A. Lind (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Alfred E Clarke (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt John L White (Manila American Cemetery)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell 42-30664
Warpath Across The Pacific (1996) pages 111 (map), 199 (photo), 368 (March 13, 1944 crew list), 393 (500th BS, 41-30664), 444 (index Ole' Tomato)
Revenge of the Red Raiders (2006) pages 288 (artwork), 289, 492 (2nd BS, 41-30664), 526, 527 (photo), 529, 530, 561 (photo), 617 (index Ole Tomato [B-25])
Thanks to Steve Birdsall and Brian Bennett for additional information
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March 13, 1944
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