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|Pilot 1st Lt. James McGuire, O-674314 (POW, survived) Grants Pass, OR
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. William T. Boyce,O-838051 (MIA / KIA) Little Rock, AR
Navigator-Bombardier 2nd Lt. Eugene L. Harviell, O-702422 (POW, died August 10, 1945) St. Louis, MS
Engineer-Gunner SSgt Harvey Baron, 39567041 (MIA / KIA) Los Angles, CA
Radio-Gunner Sgt William P. Coffman, 35656940 (MIA / KIA) Ronceverte, WV
Ditched March 30, 1945
Built by North American Aviation (NAA). Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25J-22-NC Mitchell serial number 44-29350. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 345th Bombardment Group, 500th Bombardment Squadron on January 16, 1945. No known nickname or nose art.
On March 30, 1945 took off from San Marcelino Airfield on Luzon piloted by McGuire on a mission to attack shipping in Yulin Bay (Youlin) on the southern tip of Hainan Island. Previously, McGuire had flown five consecutive missions and was tired and was flying as a reserve aircraft to cover if another bomber aborted the mission. When one B-25 aborted, this aircraft joined the formation and proceeded to the target.
Over the target at 11:25am, the formation encountered six destroyers including Amatsukaze, gunboats and other vessels and flew past the bay then cut inland to attack over the inland ridge over the bay. As the formation approached, heavy anti-aircraft fire opened up.
This B-25 made a single strafing run with B-25 piloted by Lt. Vernon Sawyer. Crossing the mountain ridge, this B-25 was bracketed by anti-aircraft fire from the ships in the bay and shore batteries and suffered a direct hit in the right wing root setting the fuel tank on fire causing a roar that was louder than the engines. Jettisoning the bomb load of 500 pound bombs, the flames entered the fuselage and burned SSgt Baron.
Damaged, this B-25 ditched into Yulin Kan Bay only 200 yards short of a small ship and caused a large splash. Wingman Lt. Sawyer believed there were no survivors. When this B-25 failed to return, it was declared Missing In Action (MIA). In fact, two of the crew, pilot McGuire and navigator Harviell survived. The rest of the crew were killed.
Fates of the Crew
After the ditching, the B-25 immediately sank into the bay that was only about 20' deep. Pilot McGuire went underwater but managed to swim out of the open hatch and reach the surface by inflating his Mae West and surfaced among debris on the surface. Harviell surfaced nearby and was badly burned and the survivors clung to a wheel from the wreckage.
Approximately an hour and a half later, a Japanese patrol boat located the two crew, pulled them aboard their vessel and transported them ashore. As Prisoners Of War (POW), their hands were bound and while on the dock a group of Chinese civilians gathered, one throwing a rock that hit McGuire.
Afterwards, transported by truck to Samah Navy Headquarters and spent the night tied and were given a bottle of tea in a shed and expected to be executed. The next day, both were interrogated separately and were threated with execution by sword and placed into a stockade built for them with a tin roof. McGuire had suffering from hepatitis and the poor food accelerated the effects and both prisoners contracted malaria. Harviell's wounds festered and his health rapidly declined. Several weeks later, a Taiwanese medical officer attempted to treat his burns after hours and healed. One of their guards was cruel and another friendly and occasionally gave them extra food and vitamins.
During May 1945, they were joined by Captain Merritt Lawlis and SSgt Benjamin Muller crew members from B-25J Mitchell 43-27888. The four prisoners suffered declining health in captivity. Harviell declined from malaria, dysentery and beriberi and died from disease and neglect on August 10, 1945.
At the end of the Pacific War, the attitude of the guards changed and McGuire, Lawlis and Muller were taken to a hospital for medical treatment by Col. Miyao. During late August, an OSS Team "Mission Pigeon" led by Major John Singlaub parachuted onto Hainan Island and rescued Allied prisoners and visited the Americans in the hospital. Afterwards, they were flown aboard a C-47 from Samah Airfield to Kunming. Lawlis and McGuire were flown aboard a B-29 to the United States for hospitalization. Postwar, Captain Yoshida responsible for their beatings was found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to six years in prison.
Baron and Coffman were officially declared dead the day of the mission. Boyce was officially declared dead on July 30, 1945. All three are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at the Manila American Cemetery. Coffman also has a memorial marker installed in 1958 at Hanger Cemetery in Fort Spring, WV.
Harviell is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at plot Q grave 286.
Dorothy Coffman (sister of William P. Coffman)
Missing Aircrew Report 15450 (MACR 15450)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William T. Boyce
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harvey Baron
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William P. Coffman
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Eugene L. Harviell
FindAGrave - 2Lt William T Boyce (tablets of the missing photo) date of death incorrectly listed as July 30, 1945
FindAGrave - Eugene L Harviell (grave photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Harvey Baron (tablets of the missing) of death incorrectly listed as July 30, 1945
FindAGrave - Sgt William Price Coffman (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt William P Coffman (tablets of the missing)
Warpath Across The Pacific pages 246 (map) 289-291, 294, 317, 358-359, 376-377, 395
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POW / MIA
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