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|Pilot Major William G. Tennille, Jr., O-396485 C.O. 17th TRS (MIA / KIA) NC
Co-Pilot 1st Lt Robert J. Alves, O-733773 (MIA / KIA) Sonoma County, CA
Observer 2nd Lt. Robert J. Nevens , O-746904 (MIA / KIA) Plymount County, MA
Radio Sgt Crawford W. Bell, 35476697 (MIA / KIA) KY
Armour/Gunner Sgt Reed S. Wilburn, 33181412 (MIA / KIA) Howard County, MD
Photo/Gunner Sgt John R. Wagstaff, 14188380 (MIA / KIA) Gaston County, NC
MIA June 8, 1944
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25D Mitchell serial number unknown, possibly 42-87295. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA).
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group (71st TRG), 17th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (17th TRS). No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engine and weapon serial numbers not noted in Missing Air Crew Report 16160 (MACR 16160).
On June 8, 1944 at 9:55am took off from Wakde Airfield piloted by Major William G. Tennille, Jr. (Mission #160 B-310) as one of ten B-25s led by Major Tennille (Mission #160 B-310) to attack a Japanese force of two cruisers and six destroyers bound for Biak.
At 12:15pm the B-25s rendezvous with an escort of 24 P-38 Lightnings at Lat 1° 30' S Long 134° 8' E and the fighters spotted the enemy convoy at approximately Lat 0° 50' S Long 132° 50' E. The B-25s were flying in a "V of V's" formation and maneuvered until 1:15pm when they spotted the convoy performing a 90° turn to the north and formed a battle formation. At this point, the B-25s broke formation into two ship elements for their attacks that became known as the Battle of Cape Waios.
The two plane element led by B-25D pilot Major Tennille with B-25D pilot 2nd Lt. Wood targeted the rearmost destroyer (likely Harusame) in a feint and a dropped one bomb that missed then headed for the cruiser nearby but was hit by anti-aircraft fire and landed in the sea nearby at approximately Lat 0° 45' S Long 132° 45' E. Also shot down by anti-aircraft fire in the same attack was B-25D pilot 2nd Lt. Wood (MIA) and B-25D pilot Lind (MIA). When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). During their attack, the B-25s claimed four Japanese destroyers sunk but only Harusame was hit and sunk.
After the mission, General MacArthur commented on the B-25s: "The job was magnificently done," General Ennis Whitehead who said, "This squadron has this date performed one of the finest military feats of the war." Of the seven B-25s that returned, five were damaged.
The entire crew was presumed dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Tennille earned the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), posthumously, Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Salem Cemetery in Winston-Salem, NC.
Alves earned Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has memorialized at Santa Rosa Memorial Park in Santa Rosa, CA at Veterans Lawn I Urn Garden - Grave 405-4A.
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