Pacific Wrecks
Pacific Wrecks    
  Missing In Action (MIA) Prisoners Of War (POW) Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)  
Chronology Locations Aircraft Ships Submit Info How You Can Help Donate
  PV-1 Ventura Bureau Number 34641 Number 31

Click For Enlargement
USN 1943

Click For Enlargement

CILHI 2002

Pilot  Lt. Walter S. Whitman, Jr., O-106381 USNR (MIA / KIA) Philadelphia, PA
Co-Pilot  Lt(jg) John W. "Moose" Hanlon, Jr. O-145441 USN (MIA / KIA) Worcester, MA
Navigator  AM2c Donald G. Lewallen, 5636083 USNR (MIA / KIA) Omaha, NB
Engineer  AMM2c Clarence C. Fridley, 3775592 USNR (MIA / KIA) Manhattan, MT
Radio  AR3c Samuel L. Crown, Jr., 6125394 USNR (MIA / KIA) Columbus, OH
Gunner  AO3c James S. Palko, 3292467 USN (MIA / KIA) Superior, WI
Gunner  AM2c Jack J. Parlier, 6693889 USNR (MIA / KIA) Decatur, IL

Crashed  March 25, 1944

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed in Burbank, CA. Constructors Number 5524. Delivered to the United States Navy (USN).

Wartime History
Assigned to squadron VB-139. Squadron number 31 was painted on the nose and tail. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On March 25, 1944 took off from Attu Airfield piloted by Lt. Walter S. Whitman, Jr. as one of five PV-1 Venturas on an "Empire Express" bombing and reconnaissance mission against Shumshu Island in the Kurlie Islands. Soon after take off, PV-1 Ventura 33343 Number 28 piloted by Lt. J. H. Moore crashed.

In the face of extremely bad weather and hazardous flying conditions. Two Venturas were unable to reach the target area aborted the mission when they jettisoned their bombs into the sea and returned to base. About six hours into the mission, Attu radioed Whitman his bearing over Kamchatka. This was the last contact with the bomber. Only one Ventura manaed to completed the mission sucessfully.

When this aircraft failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

When Whitman’s aircraft failed to return, an over water search was initiated by US Navy ships and aircraft over an area extending 200 miles from Attu, but no trace of the bomber was found.

In fact, this bomber crashed into the slope of the Mutnovskiy Volcano on Kamchatka Peninsula amid scrub brush. The precise cause of the crash remains a mystery. Possibly, it was hit by anti-aircraft fire over the northern Kurile Islands. Or it was attempting to make an emergency landing on Kamchatka in Soviet territory.

In 1962, geologist Mikhail Khotin was the first to discover the aircraft which was only visible during the brief summer months. Due to Cold War tensions, the crash site was investigated by the Soviet KGB and military and unexploded munitions were detonated, breaking up the wreckage and probably dispersed to disguise it from U.S. spy satellites.

In 1992 during a thaw in relations, the crash site was reported to the United States by
historian Ms. Alla Paperno but no action was taken for another eight years.

During August 7-9, 2000 a US Army CILHI team led by retired US Army Maj. Gen. Roland Lajoie, chairman of the US - Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs (USRJC), and Col. Konstantin Golumbovskiy, the USRJC's deputy chairman visited the crash site. The engines shows damage, possibly caused by Japanese anti-aircraft fire. At least one live bomb was still present at the crash site.

In 2002, US Army CILHI, recovered small bone fragments, artifacts and air crew related items assumed to be those of the crew, including a 1943 nickel. The recovered remains were transported to the CILHI Laboratory for mDNA testing against relatives of the crew.

The entire crew was officially declared dead on January 16, 1946. All are memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing.

After the recovery of remains, on November 20, 2003 the crew was buried in a group burial at Arlington National Cemetery at section 60 site 8249.

Lewallen has a memorial marker at Valley View Cemetery in Torrington, WY.
Parlier has a memorial marker at Mount Sterling City Cemetery in Mount Sterling, IL

Frances Williams McClain (aunt of Whitman)
Charlotte Davis (sister of Jack Parlier)

PBS/NOVA Last Flight of Bomber 31 covers the history of this aircraft and its MIA recovery
The Last Flight of Bomber 31 page 296
DoD "Remains of WWII US Bomber Crew Found in Russia" August 11, 2000
AP "Navy plane wreckage found 56 years later" August 12, 2000
FindAGrave - Walter Whitman (grave photo)
FindAGrave - John W. Hanlon (grave photo
FindAGrave - Donald G. Lewallen (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Donald Lewallen (memorial photo)
FindAGrave - Clarence C. Fridley (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Samuel L. Crown (grave photo)
FindAGrave - James S. Palko (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Jack J. Parlier (grave photo, photo)
FindAGrave - Jack J. Parlier (memorial photo, photo)
Arlington Cemetery - United States Navy Aircrew 25 March 1944

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
March 16, 2019


Tech InfoPV-1

7 Missing
  Discussion Forum Daily Updates Reviews Museums Interviews & Oral Histories  
Pacific Wrecks Inc. All rights reserved.
Donate Now Facebook Twitter YouTube Google Plus Instagram