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  B-25J-27-NC Mitchell Serial Number 44-30164  
5th AF
345th BG
500th BS

Pilot  2nd Lt. J. T. Lackey, O-809969 (KIA, BR) Tyler, TX
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Carl I. Middlebrook, Jr., O-831755 (KIA, BR) Waco, TX
Navigator-Bombardier  2nd Lt. Leslie H. Anderson, O-717368 (KIA, BR) Stuttgart, AR
Engineer-Gunner  Cpl William J. Kozak, 12043821 (KIA, BR) Philadelphia, PA
Radio-Gunner  Cpl John Shott, 33421756 (POW, survived) Aliquippa, PA
Crashed  May 17, 1945 at 9:20am
MACR  14447

Aircraft History
Built by North American Aviation (NAA) at Air Force Plant NC at Fairfax Field near Kansas City, KS. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25J-27-NC Mitchell serial number 44-30164. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA).

Wartime History
During May 1945, assigned to the 5th Air Force, 345th Bombardment Group (345th BG) "Air Apaches", 500th Bombardment Squadron (500th BS). No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines R-2600-29 serial numbers (left) 43-35040 and (right) 43-35137. Armed with .50 caliber machine guns makers unknown serial numbers (nose) 563190, 142244, 655293, 654214, 650349, 682075, 649360 and 654210 (top turret) 681433 and 681408 (tail turret) 939946 and 939616 listed in Missing Air Crew Report 14447 (MACR 14447) page 5.

Mission History
On May 17, 1945 during the early morning took off from Clark Field (Borax Strip) piloted by 2nd Lt. J. T. Lackey as one of five B-25s on a low level bombing and strafing mission against rail road targets near Taihoku (Taipei) on Formosa. The weather was overcast with visibility of five miles.

Over the target, near Taihoku (Taipei) in the northern portion of the island, this B-25 was flying at low level down a valley east of Komo and was hit by anti-aircraft fire from cliffs on the edge of the valley. At roughly 9:20am, this B-25 crashed roughly four miles east of Komo in northwestern Formosa. Last seen by Captain Richard J. Lewis and 2nd Lt. William G. Paukovich.

John Shott recalled on June 11, 2016:
"We were flying at tree-top level in a valley, I could see muzzle flashes and they must have hit us because we crashed."

During the mission, Shott was in the tail gunner position and was knocked unconscious but survived the crash. The rest of the crew died in the cockpit section of the aircraft. When this B-25 failed to return, the crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

Fates of the Crew
After the crash, Cpl John Shott regained consciousness with broken ribs and a cut to his ear from his split steel helmet inside the tail section. It was drizzling rain and he took his survival kit and walked a quarter mile to the front half of the B-25 and found none of his crew mates had survived. Spotting figures approaching, he fired his pistol and ran into a forested area near a stream to hid in a thicket then rested.

Traveling at night to avoid detection, he walked eastward toward the mountains, where he had been briefed the indigenous people might aid an American aviator. Spotting a garden, he watched for activity then stole a head of cabbage. While sitting down to eat it, he was captured by two Japanese soldiers with rifles and fixed bayonets and became a Prisoner Of War (POW).

The soldiers took his class ring and watch then escorted him to a small military camp where he was interrogated by a Japanese officer who spoke to him in broken English and were aware of his crash. At first, he gave only his name, rank and serial number. Beaten with a bamboo rod, he then lied to giving him false answers. Afterwards, they took his shoes and placed into a hut with his hands and feet bound. The next day, he was transported aboard a truck to a nearby rail road station where he was transported by train to Taihoku (Taipei).

The next morning, he was again interrogated and was beaten when he did not answer quick enough and was told he would be shot if he did not answer. Lying, he said "My base is San Marcelino" and was made to draw a crude picture of the base, which pleased the interrogators and he was given a ball of rice and tea, then was interrogated into the night, including a mock execution where he was blindfolded, marched outside against a wall and soldiers cocked their rifles until he collapsed in fear. When the blindfold was removed, the interrogator said "Are you scared? Are you going to tell the truth now?".

Afterwards, he was interrogated further, placed aboard a truck and transported to the city jail, used as Kempei Tai (military police) headquarters and detained naked in a small cell and fed only a tennis ball size of rice three times a day, occasionally with sweet potato in it with hot tea. Later, four of the crew from B-25J 43-28152 crashed May 27, 1945 were detained in a nearby cell. During captivity, he suffered from dysentery, lice. When he went down, Shott weighed 143 pounds and dropped down to 97 during captivity.

Shott was imprisoned in the city jail for the remainder of the war. At the end of the Pacific War, he and other Allied prisoners were transported to a main camp. He was repatriated via the Philippines to San Francisco and spent a week in the hospital and recuperated at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virgina. After he was discharged, he traveled by train to Philadelphia, PA to visit Helen who had married William J. Kozak two weeks before they departed overseas and had died in the May 17, 1945 crash and later married her.

During the crash, the tail section broke throwing Cpl Shott clear. The rest of the aircraft landed roughly a quarter mile away and was crushed on impact, killed the rest of the crew inside. After the crash, sole survivor Shott inspected the wreckage before departing.

Recovery of Remains
Postwar, American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) recovered the remains of the crew and transported to them to the United States for permanent burial.

The four crew members killed in the crash: Lackey, Middlebrook, Anderson and Kozak were officially declared dead the day of the mission. Postwar, their remains were recovered and transported to the United States for permanent burial.

Lackey is buried at Tyler Memorial Park and Cemetery in Tyler, TX at good shepherd plot.

Middlebrook is buried at White Rock Cemetery in Elm Mott, TX.

Anderson is buried at Lone Tree Cemetery in Stuttgart, AR.

Kozak was buried on March 18, 1949 at Long Island National Cemetery at plot J, grave 14505.

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - J. T. Lackey
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - William J. Kozak
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John Shott

USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25J-25/27-NC Mitchell 44-30164
"30164 (345th BG) lost May 17, 1945, SW Pacific. MACR 14447."
Missing Air Crew Report 14447 (MACR 14447) created May 18, 1945
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - John Shott
FindAGrave - J. T. Lackey (grave photo)
FIndAGrave - Carl Lovelace Middlebrook, Jr (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Leslie H Anderson (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - William J Kozak (grave photo)
Warpath Across the Pacific pages 321-323, 359-360, 378, 396 "WWII vet, 93, flies in B-25 over Syracuse 71 years after Japanese shot him down" June 11, 2016 "Story of WWII vet who flew in B-25 at Syracuse airshow draws attention" June 13, 2016
Pacific Wrecks interview with John Shott, June 13, 2016
Thanks to John Shott for additional information

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Last Updated
May 17, 2020


Tech Info

Tech Info
May 17, 1945

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