|Pilot 1st Lt. Walter S. McDonnell, O-789189 (MIA / KIA) Duluth, MN
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. David C. Williams, Jr., O-683933 (MIA / KIA) Sault St. Marie, MI
Navigator 2nd Lt. Joseph Bena, Jr., O-703593 (MIA / KIA, BR) Conway, PA
Engineer 1st Lt. William Pleus, O-668763 (MIA / KIA, BR) Medford, WI
Central Fire Control SSgt John J. Connell, 11082233 (MIA / KIA, BR) Salem, MA
Asst Engineer Sgt Albert Preisser, 13038616 (MIA / KIA, BR) New Kensington, PA
Radio/Gunner Sgt Cecil V. Hassell, 18047805 (MIA / KIA, BR) Corpus Christi, TX
Gunner SSgt James F. Campbell, 18119275 (MIA / KIA, BR) Houston, TX
Radar/Gunner S/Sgt Vere Daw Carpenter, 39194527 (POW, survived) Idaho Falls, ID
Tail Gunner Sgt Olinto F. Lodovici, 6999883 (POW, survived) Monongahela, PA
Crashed January 27,
McDonnell attended Duluth Denfeld High School class of 1937.
Previously, he flew combat in B-24 Liberators and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) on July 7, 1943 on an anti-submarine sweep, attacking a surfaced sub but was heavily damaged and returned to base without his navigator who was severely wounded.
Built by Boeing in Wichita, Kansas. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas to Isley Field on Saipan.
Assigned to the 20th Air Force, 497th Bombardment Group, 870th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Haley's Comet" with the nose art of a woman riding a flaming comet.
On January 27,
1945 took off from Isley Field on Saipan on a bombing mission against Nakajima Aircraft Factory in Musashino, a western suburb of Tokyo. Inbound to the target, the formation experienced poor weather, intense flak and fighters attacked the formation. After the bombs were released (one did not drop) this B-29 was hit by machine gun fire from enemy fighters in the nose and cockpit. Both pilots, the navigator and bombardier were injured or killed. The B-29 crashed at at Imba Numa (marsh) near Shisui Town, Inba County, Chiba Prefecture.
Fates of the Crew
Two of the crew Lodovici and Carpenter bailed out and both were immediately captured and became Prisoners Of War (POW). At the end of the war, Lodovici was interned at Omori POW Camp and Carpenter at Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku). At the end of the war, both were repatriated back to the United States.
The eight crew members killed on the day of the mission were officially declared dead January 27, 1945. After the recovery of the crew's remains the crew was initially buried at USAF Cemetery Yokohoma No 1, then transported to the United States for permanent burial. On May 10, 1945 the remains of the eight crew members were buried in a group burial at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery at plot E, grave 62.
Lodovici retired as a U.S. Air Force (USAF) master sergeant. He died on September 9, 1996. He is buried at Saint Fidelis Cemetery in Victoria, KS.
Dennis Lodovici (son of Olinto F. Lodovic)
"My father was one of five brothers that all served in the military during WW2. I know he had pictures of the aircraft and members of his crew, also he was a tail gunner. After spending 30 years in the Air Force he retired and lived in Victoria Kansas and is buried there."
Angelique R. Abeare-Welch (Great-Grand uncle)
1st Lt. David C. Williams Jr. KIA, Japan, WWII & the Crew of B-29 "Haley's Comet"
Some sources incorrectly state this B-29 was rammed by Ki-45 Nick 4067
Missing Air Crew Report
11558 (MACR 11558)
NARA Prisoner Of War File - Vere Daw Carpenter
NARA Prisoner Of War File - Olinto F. Lodovici
FindAGrave - William Pleus (group burial photo)
Albert W Preisser (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - James F Campbell (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Joseph Bena, Jr (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Olinto F. "Shine" Lodovici (grave photo, obituary)
B-29 Hunters of the JAAF page 72-73 covers this mission and losses
Shisui Hometown Research Society Newsletter No. 98 “A B-29 Was Shot Down” by Tokuzo Sakurai, Oct 1, 2000
B-29 “Haley’s Comet” 42-24616 was not rammed by a Ki-45 Nick, but was shot by fighters over Target 357 and crashed at Shisui, Imba, on 27 January 1945 by Koji Takaki , February 9, 2011
Thanks to Koji Takaki and Henry Sakaida for additional information
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March 4, 2020
MIA / POW