|Pilot 1st Lt. Ralph C. Crume, O-737737 (MIA / KIA) Fresno, CA
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Charles D. Mellquist, O-748208 (MIA / KIA) Portland, OR
Bombardier-Navigator 2nd Lt. Thomas F. McCarthy, O-738649 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY
Radio-Gunner SSgt John M. Furey, 32570355 (MIA / KIA) Newark, NJ
Engineer-Gunner SSgt Leo J. Malone, 16067228 (MIA / KIA) IL
Armor-Gunner SSgt Calvin J. Renker, 33282213 (MIA / KIA) Leetsdale, PA
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 41-31626 right 41-28190. Aboard were nine .50 caliber machine gins and one 75mm cannon, serial numbers unknown.
On January 22, 1944 took off from Apamama Airfield on a bombing mission against Taroa Island. Weather was Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited (CAVU).
Over the target, B-25G 42-64948 or another bomber 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 and explode into the southern portion of Maloelap Atoll roughly eight miles southwest of Taroa Island and was observed by 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 [this aircraft] 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) [this aircraft] 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]"
SSgt William R. Sheppard via MACR 1844 page 5
"Our airplane (42-64938) was between 176-200 yards directly ahead of that airplane piloted by Lt. Ralph C. Crume (42-64949) [this aircraft]. From my position as tail gunner I first paid particular note when I noticed that about 6 feet of left wing was missing from airplane piloted by Lt. Crume. He was at that time mushing along about 20-30 feet above the the water. He was then strafed by four (4) enemy fighter planes causing both his engines to catch fire. The plane then intermediately dove nose first into the water and exploded. In my opinion death occurred immediately to all crew members of airplane 42-64949."
SSgt Gilbert S. Hill via MACR 1844 page 6
"Airplane which I recognized as being piloted by 1st Lt. Ralph C. Crume, O-737737 (42-64949), was approximately 150 yards in rear of our plane in which I was flying as tail gunner, when I first noticed both of his engines afire at the same time. He was then flying very low over the water and in doing so pulled his nose up slightly and fired his guns, then leveling off. His nose then dropped down as he hit the water. Immediate explosion occurred upon contact with the water and when smoke cleared, nothing of airplane was visible. In my opinion death to all crew members was instantaneous."
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. Malone also has a memorial marker at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Campus, IL.
Missing Air Crew Report 1844 (MACR 1844)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ralph C. Crume
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles D. Mellquist
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Thomas F. McCarthy
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John M. Furey
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Leo J. Malone
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Calvin J. Renker
FindAGrave - 1Lt Ralph C Crume (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Charles D Mellquist (photos, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Thomas F McCarthy (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt John M Furey (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Leo J Malone (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Leo J. Malone (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Calvin J Renker (courts of the missing photo)
In Memory of those Killed or Missing in Action - Members Of the 47th that were Killed or Missing in Action
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February 14, 2020