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|Pilot Captain Frank Peter Bender, O-392735 (survived)
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Glover (survived)
Crew S/Sgt T. Coward (survived)
Gunner S/Sgt Arnold M. Thompson (survived)
Gunner Sgt C. V. Hastie (survived)
Gunner Cpl. R. A. McNamara (survived)
Ditched April 24, 1942
Built by North American in Inglewood. Constructors Number 82-??? last four digits unknown. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) B-25C Mitchell serial number 41-129?? the last two digits are unknown. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field across the Pacific to Australia.
During April 1942, assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 3rd Bombardment Group (3rd BG), 90th Bombardment Squadron (90th BS). Nicknamed "Salvo Sadie".
On April 24, 1942 took off from Charters Towers Airfield pilot Captain Frank Peter Bender armed with bombs as one of three B-25s on a flight via Cairns Airfield bound for 7 Mile Drome (Jackson) near Port Moresby to stage for a combat mission planned the next day against Lae. When the trio of B-25 reached the southern coast of New Guinea then turned westward but were unable to locate Port Moresby and turned around to fly eastward.
At dusk, the trio was short on fuel the group jettisoned their bombs into the sea in anticipation of ditching. All three B-25s ditched into Mullins Harbor near Mariawate on the southern coast of New Guinea. When this B-25 ditched, several bombs hung up in the bomb bay detonated. Five of the crew went Missing In Action (MIA) either killed by the blast or when the bomber crashed. Also ditched was B-25C "Chattanooga Choo Choo" (exploded with 2 KIA, 3 MIA) and B-25C "Salvo Sadie" ditched further to the west.
Fates of the Crew
The entire crew survived unhurt. The crew made their way ashore and were rescued by Mr. Eglestaff, a plantation owner. On April 30, 1942 Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) Captain 'Mac' Rich of arrived and took them by truck to Fife Bay where they boarded MV Marek and continued to search for any of the other crew from B-25C "Tojo's Nitemare" unsucessfully and attempted to salvage the wreckage of B-25C "Chattanooga Choo Choo" 41-129??.
The survivors of the triple ditching left the area on May 3, 1942 aboard MV Marek to Milne Bay, where they held a memorial service for the crew of "Tojo's Nitemare". On May 4, 1942 departed aboard MV Matoma traveling westward via Abau Island before arriving at Port Moresby ten days later and were sent back to Australia.
Bender continued to serve in the 3rd Bomb Group. On July 26, 1942 Captain Frank Peter Bender bailed out of B-25C "Arora" 41-12792 after being shot down by Zeros. Bender earned the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster and Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster. He remained in the U. S. Air Force (USAF) and retired with the rank of Colonel and served in the Korean War and Vietnam War and served as a military attaché in Caracas and with Strategic Air Command (SAC) until he retired in 1965. He passed away on May 9, 2003 at age 87. On June 16, 2003 he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 66 grave 6484.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25C Mitchell
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell piloted by Bender
Flightpath Magazine "Underwater Trio" by Michael Claringbould
FindAGrave - Col Frank Peter Bender (grave photo)
Arlington National Cemetery (ANC Explorer) - Frank Peter Bender
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Larry Hickey for additional information
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