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  B-26B "Dixie Belle" Serial Number 41-17558  
5th AF
38th BG
70th BS

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Hufstedler c1942
Pilot  Captain Walter L. Callaham, O-353833 (MIA / KIA) OK
Co-Pilot  1st Lt. William R. McNeese, O-428246 (MIA / KIA) MS
Navigator  2nd Lt. Samuel R. Hufstedler, Jr., O-437345 (MIA / KIA) Bennett, MO
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Leonard M. Feldman, O-659533 (MIA / KIA) IL
Crew  SSgt Frank L. House, 14053775 (MIA / KIA) LA
Crew  Pfc John E. Lawler, 37113028 (MIA / KIA) IA
Crew  Pvt Richard Gray, 13012407
Crashed  November 15, 1942 at 5:00-5:10pm
MACR  16322

Aircraft History
Built by Martin in Baltimore, Maryland. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-26B Marauder serial number 41-17558.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 38th Bombardment Group, 70th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Dixie Belle".

On June 2, 1942 took off from Hamilton Field pilot Captain Walter L. Callaham, co-pilot 2nd Lt. William R. McNeese, navigator 2nd Lt. Samuel R. Hufstedler, Jr. and radio/engineer SSgt Archeleaus C. Salling, Jr. as part of "C" Flight (Flight C) with auxiliary fuel tanks installed in the bomb bay and a reduced crew on a ferry flight to Hickam Field on Oahu to join the Hawaiian Defense Command.

Mission History
On November 15, 1942 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by Captain Walter L. Callaham leading "C" flight bound for Espiritu Santo. The weather was low clouds and rains forcing the formation to fly just above sea level. This B-26 reported engine trouble and a loss of power.

Between 5:00pm to 5:15pm this B-26 crashed into the sea at roughly Lat 12° 37' S Long 163° 50' E at a location roughly 323 miles southeast of Guadalcanal and roughly 237 miles from their destination. Witnesses report that the plane impacted about 150mph into 20-30' waves that caused it to spin and flip upside down and break open. When this aircraft failed to arrive the entire crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). It was believed the violent rain squall might have soaked engine wiring or caused propeller trouble.

The squadron searched for the crew the day of the mission. Afterwards, subsequent searches by destroyers and PBY Catalinas turned up only wreckage and unrolled life rafts with no sign of the crew. The nearest land was 165 miles away.

The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the crash. The entire crew earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.

Three of the crew are memorialized at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) at the courts of the missing including House, Hufstedler and Callaham on court 7.

Four of the crew are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing: McNeese, Lawler, Feldman and Gray.

Callaham also has a memorial marker at Broken Bow Cemetery in Broken Bow, OK roughly 50 feet inside main entrance and 50 feet west of main road.

McNeese also has a memorial marker at Old Bunker Hill Cemetery in Bunker Hill, MS.
Hufstedler also has a memorial marker at Hufstedler Cemetery in Ripley County, MO.
House also has a a memorial marker at Providence Memorial Park in Lake Providence, LA.

Paul Hufstedler adds:
"Samuel R. Hufstedler, Jr. was my late father's youngest brother, the youngest of 6 children born to S.R. and Phenie Ollar Hufstedler in Ripley County, MO. (Two "children still survive: John, age 99, and Bess, 101. We lost Virginia last week at age 97!"

American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) lists all seven crew as members of the 38th Bomber Group (38th BG), 70th Bomber Squadron (70th BS)
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-26B Marauder 41-17558
"17558 (38th BG, 70th BS, 5th AF) ditched at sea 323 mi SE of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands during storm Nov 15, 1942. MACR 16322. All seven crew killed."
Missing Air Crew Report 16322 (MACR 16322) created retroactively circa 1945-1946 references "propeller trouble" as the cause of the crash
Diary of Lt. Ray - November 15, 1942
News "Farley Youth Was On Duty in Pacific" December 2, 1942 obituary of John E. Lawler
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Walter L. Callaham

American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William R. McNeese
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Samuel R. Hufstedler, Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Leonard M. Feldman
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank L. House
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John E. Lawler
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Richard Gray
FindAGrave - Capt Walter L Callaham (photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Walter Lloyd Callaham (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt William Russell McNeese (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - William Russell McNeese (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Samuel Rufus Hufstedler, Jr (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Samuel Rufus Hufstedler, Jr (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Leonard M Feldman (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Frank Levalle House (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Frank L. House (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - PFC John E Lawler (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - John E. Lawler (obituary, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - PFC Richard Gray (tablets of the missing photo)
Bombs Away! A History of the 70th Bombardment Squadron (M) in Early World War II pages 24-25 (June 2, 1942 ferry flight), 89-90, 91 (photo), 92-93, 158-160 (operational order 109a)
"Two Soldiers, One Family" by Paul D. Hufstedler 1994
Thanks to Paul Hufstedler for additional information

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Last Updated
February 14, 2020


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7 Missing

12 d 37' S
163 d 50' E
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