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  B-17E "Naughty But Nice" Serial Number  41-2430  
USAAF
5th AF
43rd BG
65th BS

Former Assignments:
7th BG
88th RS

19th BG

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circa early 1942

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Hal Winfrey 1943

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c1943

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c1943

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Bruce Hoy 1982

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Rodger Kelly 1986

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Brian Bennett 2000

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Justin Taylan 2003

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Justin Taylan2006

Pilot  1st Lt. William J. Sarsfield, Jr., O-791243 (MIA / KIA, BR) PA
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Charles E. Trimingham, O-727282 (MIA / KIA, BR) Salinas, CA
Bombardier  1st Lt. Francis G. Peattie, O-727655 (MIA / KIA, BR) Beacon, NY
Navigator  1st Lt. Jose L. Holguin, O-728388 (POW, survived) Los Angeles, CA
Asst Bomb  2nd Lt. Herman H. Knott, O-669320 (MIA / KIA, BR) NY
Eng  T/Sgt Robert L. Christopherson, 17017152 (MIA / KIA, BNR) Blue Earth, MN
Asst Eng  S/Sgt Henry Garcia, 19080310 (MIA / KIA, BR) Los Angeles, CA
Radio  T/Sgt Leonard A. Gionet, 11009541 (MIA / KIA / BR) Shirley, MA
Asst Radio  S/Sgt Robert E. Griebel, 37139583 (MIA / KIA, BR) Riverton, WY
Gunner  S/Sgt Pace P. Payne, 18081362 (MIA / KIA, BR) Corsicana, TX

Crashed  June 26, 1943
MACR  14590

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army at Boeing Field and scheduled to be flown by Lt. Frederick Eaton but was delayed due to an engine change.  On November 29, 1941 departed piloted by Lt. David G. Rawls on a flight to Fort Douglas Airfield. Nicknamed "Naughty But Nice" by either Lt. Harold Caffin or T/Sgt Russell Mackey with the nose art of a nude woman reclining was painted on the left side of the nose. Later, flown from Hamilton Field to Hickam Field and painted in the three-color color scheme.

Wartime History
During the middle of February, departed Hickam Field piloted by Lt. Chaffin on a ferry flight across the Pacific to Australia. On February 16, 1942 landed at Archerfield Airfield near Brisbane.

On February 18, 1942 while taxing DC-3 VH-ACB collided with this bomber, damaging the starboard wing, tail and part of the fuselage and also damaged Lodestar LT922 parked alongside. The damage prevented it from participating in the first American bombing mission staged from Australia against Rabaul on February 22-23, 1942.

The damage was repaired by February 27, 1942. Assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 65th Bombardment Squadron to pilot Hal C. Winfrey of Harian, KY and operated from Garbutt Field near Townsville.

On June 23, 1942 took off piloted by Hal C. Winfrey on a bombing mission against Koepang and claimed a Zero shot  down.

Mission History
On June 25, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby landing at Dobodura Airfield to refuel and load bombs. Regular pilot Winfrey had a slight wound and was unable to fly the mission. Instead, Lt. Charles Trimingham flew as pilot. Also aboard was trainee Herman Knott.

On June 26, 1943 took off from Dobodura Airfield at 1:45am on a night bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. After releasing their bombs over the target, this B-17 came under intense anti-aircraft fire but was not hit. The B-17 loitered over the target area for another 30 minutes, then turned back towards base.

Approaching from lower altitude, a J1N1 Irving piloted by Shigetoshi Kudo, made three firing passes against the bomber using his upward firing 20mm cannons. The second pass killed pilot Sarsfield. The third attack set fire to the left wing. Only navigator Holguin was able to bail out before the bomber crashed into the Baining Mountains southeast of Rabaul. Also shot down that same night was B-17F "Taxpayer's Pride" 41-24448.

Search
When both bombers failed to return, it was assumed they was lost to anti-aircraft fire or bad weather. The next day, two 43rd Bombardment Group B-17s flew search missions down the north and south coasts of New Britain, but found nothing. Regular pilot Hal Winfrey blamed himself because he was not flying the mission.

Fate of Jose Holguin
Jose L. Holguin landed in the jungle severely wounded with a broken jaw and back injuries. Miraculously, he crawled without food or medical treatment for weeks until discovered by local people and taken to Arumbum village where he was fed and given basic medical treatment. Because of his severe injuries, the villagers decided to turn him over to the Japanese in hopes he would give him medical treatment.

On July 17, 1943 Holguin was turned over to the Japanese who transported him to Rabaul. He was detained by the Japanese Army Kempei-Tai (military police) at the Rabaul Prisoner Compound. As a prisoner, Holguin received no medical treatment, interrogations and harsh treatment. During early 1944, he and other surviving prisoners were moved to the Tunnel Hill POW Camp. Holguin was experimented on by Doctor Hirano who deliberately injected him with malaria. When Japan officially surrendered in September 1945, he was one of nine Allied prisoners who survived captivity at Rabaul and was liberated by the Australian Navy to Jacquinot Bay then was flown aboard a C-47 to New Guinea before being returned to the United States.

Wreckage
This B-17 crashed into mountains to the north of Wusing village in the Baining Mountains. During the war, the Japanese visited the crash site of this bomber and buried the remains they found in a shallow grave near the wreckage.

Brian Bennett adds:
"Jose Holguin was adamant that the Japanese walked into B-17E 41-2430 as he was shown a leaf from his flight log during a later interrogation. The recovery of some remains from a shallow grave [where the Japanese buried them] post war is perhaps further evidence of a visit."

Recovery of Remains
During early 1949, the crash site was reported by natives to the U. S. Army 30th Engineer Battalion doing survey work in the area. They visited the crash site and partial remains were recovered from beside the aircraft.

During April 1949, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company sent Sgt Sotan and Cpl Cramer to Rabaul to recover any additional remains from the crash site. During their visit, they recovered three sets of partial remains in a shallow grave and a ring with the initials 'H.G.' (Henry Garcia) engraved on it. The remains were assigned the code "IB-28 unknown (Group)" and transported to the Central Identification Laboratory (CIL) at Schofield Barracks. These remains were incorrectly disproved to be associated with this aircraft and were instead deemed to be unknowns. Even the ring they did not associate with crew member Henry Garcia. The recovered remains were interned in a group burial at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) in graves 607, 610 and 612.

Due to surviving crew member Jose Holguin's efforts, the unknown remains recovered from the crash site in 1949 were disinterred on August 7, 1984 from Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) for reexamination. They were accessioned by US Army CILHI on the same day with case number CILH 0024-84 through CILHI 0028-84. On February 21, 1985, five  of crew remains were positively identified: Peattie, Knott, Garcia, Griebel and Payne. During 1985, Each was buried in their hometown cemeteries. Both Holguin and Winfrey attended each memorial services.

After Holguin's rediscovery of the crash site in 1984, US Army CILHI visited the crash site during September 7-9, 1983 and again on August 18-22, 1984. During 2000, Brian Bennett accompanied US Army CILHI to the crash site again for an additional search.

During July 23 - August 20, 2001 a team from US Army CILHI excavated the crash site and recovered human remains and additional material, U.S. Army equipment and items used by crew members were accessioned on August 27, 2001 as CILHI 2001-152. On September 26, 2001 six tooth samples were submitted to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) for mDNA testing. On January 31, 2002 four bone samples were also submitted and on December 16, 2005 five more bone samples were submitted.

No additional remains were found during any of these additional visits and the site was declared cleared.

During 2010, the remains of Gionet were identified and scheduled for burial during September 2011.

Holguin Returns to Rabaul
As the sole survivor of his crew, Holguin made it his personal quest to find his comrades. He made four trips to Rabaul in the 1980s using his own funds to search for the crash site and the crew.

On his first trip in 1981, Holguin was accompanied by former pilot Hal Winfrey. Together, they met Brian Bennett who took them to the Baining Mountains to Arumbum village. There, they located Mrs. Inui, who tended to Holguin's wounds and helped nurse him.

Returning in 1982, Holguin joined Brian Bennett and Bruce Hoy (PNG Museum Curator) and returned to the Baining Mountains. With the help of an elderly villager from the area he was led to the crash site. Brian Bennett located the first piece of wreckage, a supercharger, then the group found the rest of the wreckage and cockpit section nearby. On the side of the nose, the nose art and nickname "Naughty But Nice" were still clearly visible.

During early 1984, Holguin returned to the crash site intent on salvaging the cockpit section. Placing lifting straps around the wreckage, it was lifted and flown back to Rabaul and later brought to the Kokopo Museum for display. Brian Bennett and his son Lenny Bennett spent a week cleaning the relic with cotton balls and applying a lacquer to remove growth and protect the original paint. Later, the nose art section was removed, and displayed separately from the cockpit area.

Also, Holguin located and reconciled with W. O. Matsumoto, his former Kempei-Tai (military police) prison guard in hopes he might reveal more details about the execution and burial of American prisoners of war at Rabaul.

Memorials
With the exception of Holguin, who survived, the entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

After the crew identifications in 1984, five were permanently buried in the hometowns during 1985.
Knott was buried at Long Island National Cemetery at section 2J site 92A.
Payne was buried at Oakwood Cemetery at Corsicana, TX.
Griebel was buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Riverton, WY
Trimingham was buried at Irvington Memorial Cemetery in Fremont, CA at Section C; Row 1; Space 48
Garcia was buried in Los Angeles.
Peattie was buried next to his parents at Old Beacon Cemetery in Beacon, NY. In his home town of Beacon, there is a memorial plaque at the Lewis Tomkins Hose Company #1 where he volunteered as a fireman prewar.  At the firehouse, his medals, a crew photo and a piece of wreckage from the B-17 donated by Holguin are on display.

Holguin died on March 22, 1994. He is buried at Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana CA at lawn grave AH.
Former pilot, Hal Winfrey died in November 1998 in Atlanta, GA. Burial details unknown.

Crew member Christopherson remains Missing In Action (MIA).

Relatives
Curt Holguin (son of Jose Holguin)
Henry Garcia Jr. (son of Henry Garcia)
Bonnie Williams (daughter of Robert L Christopherson)

References
Testimonial of Jose Holguin, State of California,  County of Sacramento 1948

Paradise Magazine "The Lady And The Navigator" by Bruce Hoy
Moonlight Interceptor covers the shoot down incident on page 39 - 40
Reader's Digest "Lt. Holguin's Final Mission" April 1987 page 83
The Siege of Rabaul
has a chapter on the shoot down of this B-17
Forty of the Fifth also has a chapter dealing with this incident
BritishPathe "Bombing of Darwin by Japanese" take off from Garbutt Field
Oz@War - Crash of DC3 Civilian aircraft into USAAF B-17E and Dutch Lockheed Lodestar
Oregon Sentinel "'Angel Flight' brings closure for son of WWII B-17 crew member"
FindAGrave - Pace P. Payne
FindAGrave - Robert E. Griebel
FindAGrave - Charles E. Trimingham
FindAGrave - Jose L. Holguin (grave photo)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) lists 'remains recovered' for Peattie, Knott, Garcia, Griebel and Payne
JPAC Memorandum for the record identification of CIL 2001-152 3 August 2009 [B-17E 41-2430] by Thomas D. Holland, PhD Scientific Director, JPAC-CIL
Thanks to Curt Holguin, Brian Bennett and Bruce Hoy for additional information

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Last Updated
March 25, 2014

 

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