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Lt. Earl Swartzfager, O-736576 (MIA / KIA)
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Robert K. Williams, O-736587 (MIA / KIA)
Navigator 2nd Lt. Kenneth R. Hough, O-674771 (MIA / KIA) Ottawa, KS
Engineer S/Sgt Harold F. Tague, 37111602 (MIA / KIA) Malvern, Iowa
Radio T/Sgt Victor L. Koppang, 16004538 (MIA / KIA)
Gunner Arthur A. Merzlock, 16000064 (MIA / KIA)
Crashed January 20, 1944 at 1:35pm
Built by North American in Inglewood, California. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25C-20 Mitchell serial number 42-64570. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then overseas to the South Pacific.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 42nd Bombardment Group, 390th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Skilla". When lost engines R-2600-13 serial numbers: 42-271125 and 42-271235.
On January 20, 1944 took off from Stirling Airfield piloted by 1st Lt. Earl Swartzfager on a bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. This aircraft was one of nine B-25s that staged through Torokina Airfie;d / Piva Airfield on Bougainville before proceeding to the target.
Over the target, this B-25 was hit by anti-aircraft fire, causing severe damage to the tail control surfaces. Other aircraft in the formation observed it to suddenly nose over and turn into a vertical bank, before the nose dropped into a inverted spin and crashed into the ground.
This B-25 crashed crashed between Warangoi Rivers and Sigut Rivers, near the bank of the lbrangoi River.
Postwar, a team from American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) visited this crash site and recovered some remains that were transported to the United States for burial.
In 1982, the crash site was rediscovered during logging activity and confirmed by Brian Bennett from one of the engine serial numbers. The next year, the remains of the crew
were recovered by US Army CILHI. After a long period of analysis Central Identification
Laboratory has been able to probably establish individual identifications
for the entire crew, and the case was resolved in 2004.
After the recovery of remains in 1982, Hough was buried at Highland Cemetery in Ottawa, Kansas. Tague is buried at Arlington National Cemetery section 66 site 1752. Merzlock is buried at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery at section 9 site 398.
1983 - 2004
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