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|Pilot Captain William Cherry, Jr. (survived)
Co-Pilot Lt. Whittaker (survived)
Navigator Lt. De Angelis (survived)
Crew Sgt Reynolds (survived)
Crew Private John Bartek (survived)
Crew Sgt Alex (died 13th day)
Crew Lt. Whitaker (survived)
Passenger Col. Hans C. Adamson (survived)
Passenger Captain Edward V. "Eddie" Rickenbacker (survived)
Ditched October 21, 1942
MACR 900 and 802
This B-17 was damaged in a incident prior to take off. During the flight, this B-17 went off course due to a navigation error caused by an out of true octant. Low of fuel, this bomber ditched into the sea. When this B-17 failed to return the entire crew was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Fates of the Crew
The crew's food supply ran out after three days. They drifted at sea without food or water aside from an occasional fish and rain. On Day 8 a seagull landed on Rickenbacker's head, and he caught it and the men meticulously divided it equally and used some for fishing bait.
On the 13th day, Sgt Alex died and was buried at sea, leaving only six survivors.
Rickenbacker assumed a role of leadership, encouragement, and browbeating to help the others survive, and encouraged them to turn to the Lord for solace (Psalm 46). According to Rickenbacker, each person on the rafts converted to Christianity after the experience.
Three of the survivors: Whittaker, De Angelis and Reynolds decided to separated and departed together. Later, they made landfall on a small island and found an abandoned native hut. Later, they were found by natives and taken to an English missionary on the island, until rescued later by a US Navy tender.
On the 17th day, they saw an aircraft, but it failed to spot them. More planes were spotted on the 18th and 19th days, but they failed to spot them. On the 20th day, Cherry choose to take his raft and separated.
Twenty-two days after the crash, on November 13 an OS2U Kingfisher piloted by Lt. W. F. Eadie and radioman L. H. Boutte spotted the raft with Rickenbacker, Bartek and Adamson and landed. Already dark, the Kingfisher loaded Bartek inside the cockpit. Rickenbacker and Adamson were strapped to the wing. The Kingfisher taxied on the surface for more than 30 minutes to a nearby PT Boat, where Rickenbacker and Adamson were transferred.
All were suffering from exposure, dehydration, and starvation and recuperated. Rickenbacker completed his assignment and delivered MacArthur's secret message. No one ever made the message in public. This accident later resulted in improved navigation tools for aircraft, and improved survival gear.
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