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  B-25D "El Croco" Serial Number ?  
13th AF
42nd BG
69th BS

Pilot  1st Lt. Richard W. Reed (survived) Cuyahoga County, OH
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. William W. Carlisle (survived) Lisman, AL
Navigator  1st Lt. Patrick H. Watts (survived)
Engineer  S/Sgt William S. Price, 15097942 (WIA, survived) Bourbon County, KY
Radio  Cpl. Carl A. Cook (survived)
Turret Gunner  Cpl. Warren G. Johnson (survived)
Photographer  S/Sgt August C. Valentin (WIA, survived)
Ditched  April 12, 1944
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by North American Aviation (NAA). Constructors Number unknown. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25D Mitchell serial number unknown. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to the South Pacific (SOPAC).

Wartime History
Assigned to the 13th Air Force (13th AF), 42nd Bombardment Group (42nd BG) "The Crusaders", 69th Bombardment Squadron (69th BS). Nicknamed "El Croco".

Mission History
On April 12, 1944 took off from Banika Airfield in the Russell Islands Group piloted by 1st Lt. Richard W. Reed on a photo reconnaissance mission over Rabaul. Over the target, at 9,000' this B-25 dove down to 4,000' to begin a photographic run. After coming out of a cloud at 300 mph, it was fired on by anti-aircraft fire and flew through a mass of flak.

Half of one engine was torn off and the other engine caught fire and was leaking oil. Also, the ailerons, turret, bomb bay, nose and wings were hit, and a portion of the tail was knocked off and crew man wounded. Hit by a second barrage, the B-25 dove to 2,500' over Simpson Harbor, banking 80 degrees in a spin headed towards Lakunai Airfield.

Following the coastline, the B-25 ditched twenty miles from Rabaul, making a smooth landing into a 15' sea swells, and the B-25 sank in less than a minute. Shore batteries began firing on them, until other friendly aircraft in the area dove down to strafe the guns.

A bomber formation returning from a mission circled the downed crew and radioed a PBY Catalina that arrived within an hour. The entire crew of seven were rescued by a PBY Catalina piloted by Ensign Wayburn C. Cook from VP-91 and returned to duty.

Carlisle retired from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) with the rank of Major. He passed away February 11, 1973 and is buried at Resthaven Memorial GardensĀ in Lisman, AL. For his World War II and Korean War service, he earned the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters and a purple heart.

William W. Carlisle Jr. (son of William W. Carlisle)
"My father William W. Carlisle 69th BS left Banika Strip 4/12/44 on a volunteer photo mission to Rabaul. They were in a D model B-25 named El Crocco. Over Simpson harbor they had #2 engine shot out and the prop was messed up on #1. They ditched 25 mile from Rabaul off Cape Gazzle. Navy pby picked they up. He got the Air Medal and flew 66 missions. He was in the 69th BS and later the 100th BS. Postwar, he served with the U.S. Air Force in the 153rd Fighter Squadron, Mississipi Air National Guard during the Korean War era. He passed away in 1973."

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Richard W. Reed
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - William W. Carlisle
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - William S. Price
The Crusaders: A History of the 42nd Bombardment Group pages 77-78
FindAGrave - William W. Carlisle (gave photo)
Thanks to Jim Sawruk, Edward Rogers and Ewan Stevenson for additional information

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Last Updated
July 17, 2022


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