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  PB4Y-1 Liberator Bureau Number 31952 Squadron Number 51-P-?
Formally VP-51

Temporary Assigment

Pilot  Lt(jg) John B. Haskett, O-106015 USNR (MIA / KIA) Alhambra, CA
Crew  Lt(jg) Kenneth R. Johnson, O-121454 USNR (MIA / KIA) MN
Crew  Ensign Duane L. Beaman, O-156373 USNR (MIA / KIA) CA
Crew  AMM2c Clarence C. Dodson, 3603777 USN (MIA / KIA) TX
Crew  AMM2c John H. Harr, 6221572 USNR (MIA / KIA) MI
Crew  AMM2c Alvin P. Harrow, 2073724 USN (MIA / KIA) CT
Crew  AMM2c Merle W. Hinshaw, 3288742 USN (MIA / KIA) MN
Crew  AOM3c Henry F. Lohmeier, 6105801 USNR (MIA / KIA) IL
Crew  ARM2c Lloyd R. Morgan, 3566308 USN (MIA / KIA) OK
Crew  AM2c Norman M. Ostroff, 4050403 USNR (MIA / KIA) PA
Crew  ARM2c Eric B. Bolling, 4050403 USNR (MIA / KIA) PA
Observer  Lt. Donald H. Shiley, O-083362 USNR (MIA / KIA) IL
MIA  July 17, 1943

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation at San Diego. Constructors Number 879. At the factory painted with olive drab upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-15-CO Liberator serial number 41-24084.

Wartime History
Assigned to the U. S. Navy USN as PB4Y-1 Liberator bureau number 31952. Assigned to squadron VP-51, later redesignated VB-101. Squadron number 51-P-? (single digit unknown, likely 7, 8 or 9). This side number indicated it was the 7th, 8th or 9th aircraft from Patrol Wing 51. No known nickname or nose art. This bomber was not repainted into a Navy color scheme.

Ferried from Barber's Point Airfield on Oahu then across the Pacific to the South Pacific (SOPAC). On February 1, 1943 redesignated Bombing Squadron 101 (VB-101).

Mission History
On July 17, 1943 at 1:28am took off from Carney Field on Guadalcanal piloted by Lt(jg) John B. Haskett armed with cluster bombs on a predawn bombing mission against Kahilli Airfield (Buin) on southern Bougainville. For this mission, this bomber was temporarily assigned to Bombing Squadron 102 (VB-102). Aboard was observer Lt. Donald H. Shiley who volunteered to fly the mission in hopes of experiencing combat even though he had already received orders to be transfered home.

The formation included six PB4Y-1 Liberators including three from VB-101 and three from VB-102 (including this bomber). Inbound, one VB-102 bomber aborted the mission.

Meanwhile, at 2:25am a pair of J1N1 Irvings night fighters from the 251 Kōkūtai took off from Ballale Airfield on a patrol mission over southern Bougainville and the Shortland Islands. Over Kahilli Airfield (Buin) the PB4Y-1s released their cluster bombs from 12,000'. Returning from the mission, the both VB-102 bombers were intercepted by night fighters.

Intercepting, J1N1 Irving piloted by Okado with observer Satoru Ono sighted a "B-24" flying in the opposite direction and made three attack run against the bomber. At 3:47am the Irving crew observed it going down in flames then returned to base safely. During the interception, witnesses aboard another PB4Y in the formation reported seeing this bomber shot down in flames. When this bomber failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Afterwards, searches revealed no sign of this bomber or the crew.

The entire crew was officially declared dead on January 7, 1946 The entire crew is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. The entire crew earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.

Haskett earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Evergreen Cemetery in Republic, MO at section B, row 1, plot 9.

Jim Wright (nephew of Lloyd Morgan)
"The south end of Bougainville was an area of much action in and around 1943 and could, I feel yield a number of MIA finds. My uncle is one of those missing. He was a radioman in a B-24 that was shot down July 17, 1943 while bombing Kahili Airfield. Lloyd Morgan was his name. No trace has ever been found. "

USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24D-15-CO Liberator 41-24084
"24083 to Navy as PB4Y-1 31952."
Navy Serial Number Search Results - PB4Y-1 Liberator 31952
"31952 (ex USAAF B-24D 41-24084, VB-102) shot down by enemy fighters Jul 17, 1943 South Pacific. 11 MIA"
Diary of James Claire Nolan - July 17, 1943 (Saturday)
"Six planes out on the night strike over Kahili last night (three of our ours in three of 102’s). One of 102’s planes were shot down in flames by a Jap night fighter off Buin. The first time I’ve ever heard of the B-24 going down in flames. (Also the first Jap night fighter success in this area.)
The other crews that saw it, said they saw a stream of tracer, then a small fire, which slowly blossomed into a roaring mass of flames as the plane dove towards the harbor. The wreckage floated and burned for a short while in the water. That’s two for 102 in two weeks. They’re beginning to understand what we’ve been up against for the past six months."
Kodochosho, 251 Kōkūtai, July 17, 1943
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John B. Haskett
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Kenneth R. Johnson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Duane L. Beaman
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Clarence C. Dodson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John H. Harr
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Alvin P. Harrow
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Merle W. Hinshaw
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Henry F. Lohmeier
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lloyd R. Morgan
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Norman M. Ostroff
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Eric B. Bolling
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Donald H. Shiley
FindAGrave - LtJG John B Haskett (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - John Beverly Haskett (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - LtJG Kenneth R Johnson (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Duane L. Beaman
FindAGrave - Clarence C. Dodson
FindAGrave - John H. Harr
FindAGrave - Alvin P. Harrow
FindAGrave - Merle W. Hinshaw
FindAGrave - Henry F. Lohmeier
FindAGrave - Lloyd R. Morgan
FindAGrave - Norman M. Ostroff
FindAGrave - Eric B. Bolling
FindAGrave - Donald H. Shiley
We Flew Alone (2000) by Alan C. Carey 13-14
The Search That Never Was: The Untold Truth about the 1948-49 Search for World War II American Personnel Missing in Action in the South Pacific by J. L. Wright
Thanks to Minoru Kamada for Japanese translation and Jim Sawruk for crew details and additional information

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Last Updated
March 3, 2021

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