Gordon R. Manuel
43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG), 64th Bombardment Squadron (64th BS)
Gordon Richard Manuel was born on April 4, 1917 in Hodgdon, Maine.
Manuel was trained as bombardier aboard the B-17 Flying Fortress. Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 19th Bombardment Group, 30th Bombardment Squadron.
On September 15, 1942 took off as bombardier aboard B-17E "Frank Buck" 41-2659 on a night bombing mission against Rabaul and experienced bad weather. Returning, this B-17 was short on fuel and landed on the beach near Hood Point. Afterwards, the B-17 was refueled and an runway built on the beach and flown back to Port Moresby. The crew including Manuel were transported by boat back to Port Moresby.
Gordon R. Manuel recalls in 70,000 to One:
"This had been a night mission and the weather was really foul. It was so bad that somehow our instruments went haywire and now, when we should have been just about coming home, we were God knows how many miles from nowhere with nothing under us but two miles of sky and a few more miles of water. I went back to the radio compartment with the boys. We put on our Mae Wests and just sweated it out. Rosenberger, our radio operator, just sat there, tapping out messages, asking the base to tell us where we were. The gas was getting very low, and Holsey had the engines leaning way down to use as little gas as possible.
We hit so softly that we didn't even bounce. Holsey had landed us on a beach at Hood Point - a lovely beach. The plane skimmed along and then it settled into the sand as our speed reduced. The heavy ship gave a little lurch to the left and we stopped. The next day a boat came with some steel netting. [marston matting] Friendly natives helped us lay it on the beach, and then Holsey and Ryan, our co-pilot took her off. They just prayed her off and the right wing tip touched the water, but she got off all right. We went back to Moresby by boat laughing it all off. But we hadn't laughed during the hour we were sweating it out."
Afterwards, Manuel continued to fly bombing missions. During late 1942, he was assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG), 64th Bombardment Squadron (64th BS).
On May 21, 1943 took off as bombardier aboard B-17E "Honi Kuu Okole" 41-9244 was shot down by a Japanese night fighter piloted by Shigetoshi Kudo. Manuel bailed out and evaded capture behind enemy lines in New Britain, despite wounds from the shoot down.
Assisted by friendly locals, after a half year alone with only the local people, increased Allied air operations cause other pilots to crash in his area. Manuel locates Owen Giertsen and later is joined by two others: Carl G. Planck, Jr. and Edward Czarnecki. On
February 5, 1944 the USS Gato (SS-212) surfaced in Open Bay to rescue the group, plus three other. Immediately after the war, he wrote 70,000 to One about his experiences in the war.
Manuel was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) as a 2nd Lieutenant with serial number O-888863. He was promoted to the rank of Captain.
Manuel passed away August 16, 1950. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 8 grave 6423 RH.
Mary Moulton Manuel (wife)
Gordon Manuel, Jr. (son)
E&E Report Gordon Manuel pages 1-18, Appendix 1-7
E&E Report No. 33 Owen N. Giertsen page 5
70,000 to One details Manuel's wartime experiences
Capt Gordon Richard Manuel (photo, grave photo)
Ken’s Men Against The Empire Volume 1 (2015) pages 109, 189. 190, 192-194, 292-293, 316-317, 327, 359, 384
Thanks to Gordon Manuel, Jr. (son) for diary entry and additional information