|Pilot 1st Lt. Clifford A. Jaebker, O-795399 (KIA, BR) Allen County, IN
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Noel F. Learned, O-795778 (KIA, BR) MS
Navigator 2nd Lt Marek G. Pzegeo, O-672973 (KIA, BR) Peabody, MA
Radio SSgt Henry B. Lang, 37373993 (KIA, BR) MO
Gunner SSgt Charles L. Hinsch, 32246203 (KIA, BR) Hudson. NJ
Crashed November 22, 1943 at 11:45am
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25G-5 Mitchell 42-64846. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 38th Bombardment Group, 822nd Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. When lost, engines R-2600-13 serial numbers 43-24227 and 43-24228. Aboard were fixed .50 caliber machine guns 103-126, 154-030, 565-173, 378-673, 313-689, 505-182. Also, fixed .30 caliber machine guns serial number 74-546. Plus flexible .30 caliber machine guns serial numbers 35-359 and 74-366. In the nose 75mm canon model T-13 serial number 256.
On November 22, 1943 took off from Durand Field (17-Mile Drome) near Port Moresby (Mission 325-H) on a bombing mission against Gasmata Airfield and Linderhafen Plantation. The weather was scattered clouds and rain with poor visibility.
Over Gasmata, this B-25 was hit by anti-aircraft fire in the right engine, that cause it to spiral into the ground and crash in flames onto Arwin Island.
1st Lt. Gordon C. S. Fuller, O-792333 statement November 23, 1943 via MACR 1171:
"Lt. Jaebker was flying on my right wing constituting a two plane formation. We were at about 600 feet altitude getting our spacing for our first run on the target and in order to fall in behind the lead formation I had to make a 90° turn to the right. As I banked I looked over at Lt. Jaebker to see his position and I saw him shake his head and then slide under my plane and up in position on my left wing. Shortly after a slight turn to the left was necessary so once again I looked over at him. His plane was in a steep bank to the right and going down. The top hatch over the pilot’s compartment was gone and the cockpit looked as if it had been burned out. In the split second that I saw the plane before it passed under me the cockpit looked empty and the right engine was on fire. The plane then passed under me preventing further observation. I later saw a column of smoke about 500 ft. high coming from Arwin Island in the vicinity of where the ship went in a bank. Previous to my run on the target I noticed several bursts of ack ack coming from Gasmata air drome, but did not notice any bursts near our formation."
2nd Lt. George Bohichik, O-673026 statement November 23, 1943 via MACR 1171:
"Lt. Jaebker had just slide under our plane and was in position on our left wing when my attention was attracted up front on the formation ahead for about 45 seconds and when I looked back toward his plane I saw it making a steep bank to the right and the right engine was in flames. The plane kept on going down and crashed on Arwin Island seconds later. I later saw a column of smoke about 500 ft. high in the vicinity of the crash."
TSgt John I. Barr, 14054815 statement April 5, 1946 via MACR 1171:
"While making our first run over the target I was taking pictures out of the tail of the lead plane. I saw a plane coming in behind us. There were bombs exploding in the area behind it. It flew over a small island and then started to lose altitude with a small trail of black smoke coming from it. Suddenly it went into a steep right bank and then crashed on Awrin Island. It looked as if the plane caught on fire as soon as it crashed and almost immediately it blew up as if the bombs in the ship exploded."
During late March 1944, when the Australian Army occupied the Gasmata area, and a report by natives stated: two bombers came over Gasmata low and dropped their bombs. One was hit by enemy shore guns and caught fire, lost height and crashed into the mangroves of Arwin Island No airmen were seen to jump from the plane. The other plane flew over the ship and was set on fire and crashed into Gasmata Harbor. [Note: this reference to a second crash did not occur on the same day].
On September 22, 1944 Australian Army Patrol Officer (Kiap) Lt. W. A. J. Saville visited the crash site on Arwin Island. Lt. Saville located '264846' (USAAF Serial Number) on the cockpit dash board and reported the wreckage as mostly burned, but two main wheels were intact.
At the crash site, burnt bones were recovered and later turned over to the US Army HQ at Arawe, who assigned them unknown identities: X-22, X-23, X-24, X-25, X-26. It was deemed 'the condition of the remains does not warrant identification.' These remains were transported to Finschafen in American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) custody and buried at American Cemetery at Finschafen.
Possibly, this aircraft was again visited again in 1946 by RAAF Searcher Team led by S/L Keith Rundle.
Today, the two engines remain at the site, and some other smaller pieces of wreckage on the northern side of Awrin Island (Awrin Island)
Postwar, the remains of the crew were transported to the United States. On September 27, 1951 buried in a group burial at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery at section C, graves 743-744.
Tom Behrens (namesake of Clifford A. Jaebker):
"I was thrilled to run across the entry for the B-25G piloted by Clifford Jaebker, as he is my namesake (middle name, that is). As it turns out, Cliff and my father went through advanced training together and were to serve on the same crew when deployed from Shaw AFB in the summer of 1943. In California, my dad was assigned as pilot for another crew to ferry a B-25 to Eagle Farms in Australia. They left California in separate aircraft and met up in Hawaii, spending a few days together. Then, on 27 July 1943, Cliff left for Australia. The next day, my father left Hickam Field, and as he tiptoed on tiny islands across the Pacific, he always seemed to be just two steps and a day behind his close friend and brother-in-arms. Finally meeting up in Australia, they served together until late November, when my father received the heart stopping news that Cliff had been shot down on 22 November 1943 near Gasmata. In his diary, my father’s report sounded more like Cliff’s plane was observed crashing into the ground. “Those that saw him crash said his engines were on fire and the cockpit blown away. He was doing about 260 when he hit.” My father also relates about photo reconnaissance that confirmed the crash: “(24 November 1943) Saw the pictures that were taken of Cliff’s crack up--not a chance in the world anyone ever got out. It exploded completely when it hit the ground.”
Annmarie Pzegeo-Mangone (daughter of Pzegeo)
Steve Mangone (grandson of Pzegeo)
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Clifford A. Jaebker
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Noel F. Learned
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Marek G. Pzegeo
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Henry B. Lang
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Charles L. Hinsch
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25G-5 Mitchell 42-64846
"64846 (38th BG) shot down by AAA at Arwin Island, New Guinea Nov 22, 1943. MACR 1171. 5 KIA"
Missing Air Crew Report 1171 (MACR 1171) created on November 24, 1943
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25 42-64846
FindAGrave - Clifford A Jaebker (grave photo)
Noel F Learned (grave photo)
Marek G Pzegeo (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Henry B Lang (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Charles L Hinsch (grave photo)
Thanks to Mark Reichman, Tom Behrens, Annmarie Pzegeo-Mangone and Steve Mangone for additional information.
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February 28, 2018