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|Pilot 2nd Lt William Raymond Barker, O-417932 (KIA, BR) Salina, KS
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Earl S. Ripley, O-431518 (MIA / KIA) KS
Crew Sgt Raymond E. McGill, 6287828 (MIA / KIA) AR
Gunner Sgt William C. Krueger, 16027708 (MIA / KIA) Oconto County, WI
Gunner Sgt Edward R. White, 6925238 (KIA, BR) Grant Parish, LA
Crew Sgt W. Hill (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?? last two digits are unknown. Possibly, B-25C 41-12444, B-25C 41-12484 or B-25C 41-12489. 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). No known nickname or nose art.
On April 24, 1942 took off from Charters Towers Airfield pilot 2nd Lt William R. Barker 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. Aboard this bomber, several bombs failed to release and it is unknown if the crew was aware they were hung up before 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 either killed by the blast or when the bomber crashed. Also ditched was B-25C "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and further to the east B-25C "Salvo Sadie".
After the explosion, the fate of the five crew is unknown. Likely, they died in the explosion, ditching or drown. Sole survivor Sgt W. Hill survived the explosion and spent the night in the water.
After the ditching, Reverend M. Nixon of the London Missionary Society (LMS) assisted the crew of B-25C "Chattanooga Choo Choo".
Fates of the Crew
Sole survivor Sgt W. Hill survived the explosion and spent the night in the water until he washed ashore on a small island. Later, he was located and assisted by Reverend M. Nixon of the London Missionary Society (LMS) as well as the crew B-25C "Chattanooga Choo Choo" 41-129??. Nixon reported the ditching to ANGAU officer Captain 'Mac' Rich, who sailed from Samarai aboard MV Marek, who arrived to rescue them and searched for the missing crew members from B-25C "Salvo Sadie" returning with that crew on May 1, 1942 to the Fife Bay area.
Afterwards, 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 deceased crew members of B-25 "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.
After the crash, Reverend M. Nixon reported the ditching to Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) Captain 'Mac' Rich, who sailed aboard MV Marek from Samarai to Mullins Harbor to rescue the survivors. During late April 1942, Rich and native people searched the area but found the water murky and one unexploded bomb then stopped searching to look for the crew of B-25C "Salvo Sadie" and returned with them then transported all the survivors to Fife Bay on May 1, 1942.
Recovery of Remains
The bodies of two of the crew Barker and White were found and buried in New Guinea. Postwar, both were exhumed and transported to the Philippines for permanent burial.
The dead crew (with the exception of Barker) was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Barker was officially declared dead on October 24, 1942 in error. The five deceased crew earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.
Barker is buried at Manila American Cemetery at Plot A Row 16 Grave 74.
White is buried at Manila American Cemetery at Plot D Row 1 Grave 130.
Ripley, McGill and Krueger were never found. All three remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA) to this day. All three are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Ripley also has a memorial marker at Roselawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Salina, KS.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - William Raymond Barker
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Earl S. Ripley
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - William C. Krueger
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25C Mitchell
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell piloted by Barker
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Earl S. Ripley
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Raymond E. McGill
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William C. Krueger
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Edward R. White
FindAGrave - 2Lt Earl Stratton Ripley (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2LT Earl Stratton Ripley (photos, memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Sgt Raymond E McGill (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt William C Krueger (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Edward R White (Manila American Cemetery)
Flightpath Magazine "Underwater Trio" by Michael Claringbould
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