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  B-25D-25 "The Mad Mizurian" Serial Number 42-87297  
12th AF
17th TRG
71st TRS

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Click For Enlargement
71st TRS c1944

Click For Enlargement
71st TRS c1944
Pilot  2nd Lt William N. Hatcher, O-764991 (KIA, BR) Albany, TX
Co-Pilot  2Lt Virgil S. Johnson, O-764954 (MIA / KIA) Malvern, AR
Navigator  2Lt Lawrence R. Hertweck, O-765491 (MIA / KIA) Glenshaw, PA
Gunner  SSgt Herbert C. Hedgecock, 38405264 (MIA / KIA) Chickasha, OK
Radio  SSgt Edward J. Krigier, 32732938 (MIA / KIA) Buffalo, NY
Engineer  SSgt Robert R. Rogers, 38413800 (MIA / KIA) Beaumont, TX
Crashed  December 26, 1944 at 8:30pm
MACR  12603

Aircraft History
Built by North American Aviation (NAA). Constructors Number 100-20790. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25D-25 Mitchell serial number 42-87297. Ferried overseas via Hickam FIeld then across the Pacific to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA).

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 17th Tactical Reconnaissance Group (17th TRG), 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (71st TRS). Nicknamed "The Mad Mizurian" with the nose art of an American Indian chief with a head dress on each side of the nose. On the right side below the artwork was the name "Giradamo" in quotation marks. When lost, engines R-2600-18 serial numbers 41-28791 and 41-28980. Weapon serial numbers not noted in Missing Air Crew Report 12603 (MACR 12603).

Mission History
On December 26, 1944 took off from San Jose Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt William N. Hatcher on a strike against the Japanese task force in the Mindoro Strait off western Mindoro. After spotting the task force, the formation landed at San Jose Airfield then took off again immediately to bomb and strafe the Japanese force. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). It was believed this B-25 was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and crashed into the Mindoro Strait.

Afterwards, 310th Air-Sea Rescue directed by 2nd Lt. Alvin R. Johnson searched for this aircraft and the crew unsuccessfully.

Recovery of Remains
Afterwards, the body of 2nd Lt William N. Hatcher was recovered by American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) and the cause of death was reported as drowning. The rest of the crew remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

The entire crew was declared dead the day of the mission. Johnson, Hertweck, Hedgecock Krigier and Rogers are memorialized at the Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Hatcher earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. Hatcher is buried at Manila American Cemetery Plot D Row 1 Grave 8. Details for Hertweek are unknown.

Johnson earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Fairplay Cemetery in Benton, AR.

Hertweck earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Hedgecock earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Krigier earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Rogers earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Bethel Cemetery in Appleby, TX.

Lilian Fain (mother of Robert R. Rogers)
Tammy Brown (cousin of Robert R. Rogers)
Tom Brown (cousin in law of Robert R. Rogers)
"Robert R. Rogers had flown 23 combat missions totaling 125.25 hours. Robert Rogers was an only child, his mother died about 10 years ago. My wife Tammy and her mom (Sarah Tubbe) were the only relatives left of Rogers. When they went through his mothers belongings after she passed away every letter they ever wrote to each other during WWII was saved by each of them, so when Rogers was MIA then declared dead they returned his belonging to his mom. She put her letters and pictures from him, with his saved letters, pictures, training manuals, and many other things all in a big box. Once she learned he was MIA she continued to write for months. Of course the army returned the letters stamped MIA 12/26/1944. I found the letter she wrote the day she received the Western Union dispatch from the Adjutant Generals office informing her of Rogers missing in action. We also have the Western Union dispatch."

Other sources incorrectly list the nickname of this B-25 as "The Mad Missourian" [sic]
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25D-25 Mitchell 42-87297
"87297 (71st BG) lost Dec 26, 1944, SW Pacific."
Missing Air Crew Report 12603 (MACR 12603) created January 12, 1945
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - William N. Hatcher
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Virgil S. Johnson
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Lawrence R. Hertweck
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Herbert C. Hedgecock
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Edward J. Krigier
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Robert R. Rogers
FindAGrave - 2Lt William Norman Hatcher (grave photos)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Virgil S Johnson (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1LT Virgil S. Johnson (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Lawrence R Hertweck (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1LT Lawrence R Hertweck (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Herbert C Hedgecock (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Edward J Krigier (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Robert R Rogers (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Robert Ray Rogers (memorial marker photo)
Thanks to Tammy Brown, Sarah Tubbe and Tom Brown for additional information

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Last Updated
January 11, 2023


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