|Pilot 2nd Lt. Robert G. Heun, O-743336 (MIA / KIA) Riverside, CA
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Frederick W. Klotz, O-742088 (MIA / KIA) Brooklyn, NY
Bombardier-Navigator 2nd Lt. Paul McLaughlin, O-741802 (MIA / KIA) Hatch NM
Radio-Gunner SSgt Warren A. Fenno, 11116875 (MIA / KIA) Westboro, MA
Engineer-Gunner SSgt Kenneth L. Lefors, 38130859 (MIA / KIA) Gentry, AR
Armor-Gunner SSgt Sam A. Smith, 14059822 (MIA / KIA) Barnesville, GA
Crashed January 22, 1944 at 12:38pm
Built by North American. Delivered to the U.S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to the Central Pacific.
Assigned to the 7th Air Force, 41st Bombardment Group, 47th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. When lost, engines R-2600-13 serial numbers left 42-23000 right 43-23404. Aboard were nine .50 caliber machine gins and one 75mm cannon, serial numbers unknown.
On January 22, 1944 took off from Apamama Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt. Robert G. Heun on a bombing mission against Taroa Island. Weather was Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited (CAVU). Over the target, this B-25 or another in the formation was observed to jettison two bombs then suddenly the rear of of this aircraft was observed to crumble, emit black smoke then crash, explode and break into two pieces ad immediately sink into the southern portion of Maloelap Atoll roughly eight miles southwest of Taroa Island. The crash was observed by at least two others in the formation.
In the same formation, B-25G 42-64949 was damaged by the same bomb blast or explosion, and lost roughly 6' of its left wing then was intercepted by four enemy fighters that set both engines on fire and caused the damaged bomber to crashed outside the southern end of Maloelap Atoll. Both B-25s failed to return and were both officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
2nd Lt. Charles M. Evans, Jr. via MACR 1845, page 4
"I was flying approximately 100 yard right of airplane pilot by Lt. Heun (42-64948). The airplane was observed to jettison 2 bombs into the lagoon SW of Taroa Island. These bombs did not bounce. Twenty seconds later, the whole back of [the] airplane was seen to crumple and was engulfed in black smoke. This airplane then peeled slightly to the left and dove into the water. It did not bounce, but went straight down. It went into the water in two pieces, being broken in two just behind the turret. Both pieces disappeared immediately. From observation of crews of airplane in formation, it is believed that a bomb or bombs being jettisoned by either airplane 42-64948 or airplane 42-64949 caused the explosion that broke airplane 42-64948 in two. The entire crew of airplane 42-64948, in the opinion of members of the formation who witnessed its fates, were killed instantly."
SSgt Earl J. Grunewald, via MACR 1845, page 5
"From my position as tail gunner in airplane 42-64939, I was taking pictures of the bombing in progress when our airplane passed y airplane being piloted by Lt. Ralph C. Crume (42-64949) and 2nd Robert H. Heun (42-64948), which were flying below our airplane. As they drifted back slightly to my right, I noted airplane, which later proved to [be] that piloted by Lt. Heun, hit the water and explode. Having my camera in position, I snapped the incident, copy of which is attached to this report. Airplane flying on right wing of Lt. Heun, pilot by Lt. Crume, was affected by the explosion of Lt. Heun's plane, causing destruction of about 6 feet of his left wing. Airplane piloted by Lt. Crume continued to fly buy later was attacked by enemy planes and crashed and exploded which is covered in another report. [MACR 1844 detailing the loss of B-25G 42-64939]"
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission and earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. All are memorialized at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at the courts of the missing on court 7.
Lefors also has a memorial marker at Gentry Cemetery in Gentry, Arkansas at plot Block 2, lot 31.
Smith has a memorial marker at Greenwood Cemetery in Barnesville, GA. Also, Smith is memorialized at Gordon State College - Military Memorial.
Benjamin Smith (brother of Sam A. Smith)
Judy & Mike Smith (niece and nephew of Sam A. Smith)
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Sam A. Smith
Missing Air Crew Report 1845 (MACR 1845)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert G. Heun
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frederick W. Klotz
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Paul McLaughlin
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Warren A. Fenno
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Kenneth L. Lefors
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Sam A. Smith
FindAGrave - Robert G Heun (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Frederick W Klotz (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Paul McLaughlin (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Kenneth L Lefors (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Kenneth L. Lefors (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - SSgt Sam A Smith (tablets of the missing)
Sam A. Smith (memorial marker)
Gordon State College - Military Memorial - SSG Sam A. Smith
In Memory of those Killed or Missing in Action - Members Of the 47th that were Killed or Missing in Action
Thanks to Judy & Mike Smith for additional information
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February 18, 2020