|Pilot 1st Lt. Russel Allen Philips (POW, survived)
Co-Pilot 1st Lt Charlton H. Cupernell, O-662752 (KIA) CA
Bombardier 1st Lt. Louis Zamperini, O-663341 (POW, survived) Torrance, CA
Crew 1st Lt. Robert H. Mitchell, O-728413 (KIA) IL
Crew Sgt Otto Anderson, 36246343 (KIA) WI
Crew Pvt Leslie A. Deane, 17056966 (KIA) KS
Crew SSgt Frank Glassman, 36328580 (KIA) IL
Crew SSgt Jay S. Hansen, 18045149 (KIA) ID
Crew Cpl Michael Walsh, 13056672 (KIA) PA
Tail Gunner SSgt Francis P. McNamara, 15100716 (died 6-30-43) OH
Crashed May 27, 1943
Son of Italian immigrants, Louis Zamperini was born in Olean, NY and moved to Torance, CA.
He won a a scholarship to USC and participated in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin as a 5,000m runner and finished eigth. Two years later in 1938, Zamperini set a national collegiate mile record which held for 15 years. He was nicknamed the "Torrance Tornado".
Built by Consolidated. Assigned to the 11th Bombardment Group, 42nd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Green Hornet".
Devil At My Heels, page 82:
"The only available ship was a 'musher' called 'Green Hornet'. A musher flies with her tail down and can't get off the ground with a bomb load. Our engineers had checked it from nose to stern more than once and promised it was exactly like all our other B-24s: it should fly right; it just don't. No matter, we stripped many of its parts to use on other planes, so we mostly flew the Green Hornet on the cabbage run, meaning we'd take it to the main island of Hawaii to pick up lettuce, fresh vegetables, steaks and stuff like that. Very occasionally it went on search missions."
Took off along with another B-24 at 18:30 on a search mission bound for Palmyra Airfield. Their plan was to land there and refuel after the search. Over the search area, there was cloud cover down to 1,000' and the bomber dove to 800' to search. The No. 1 engine experienced problems and died. The engineer accidentally feathered the No. 2 engine, the bomber quickly angled to the left and crashed into the sea. This B-24 was reported as missing when it failed to arrive at Palmyra Airfield.
Fates of the Crew
Only three survived the crash. Zamperini managed to grab the life raft and deploy it. Philips sustained a head wound during the crash.
McNamera survived 33 days at sea then died. The survivors said a prayer and buried him at sea. While in the raft, they survived a storm, strafing by a Japanese bomber and survived by catching and eating two albatross birds. After 47 days at sea, Zamperini and Phillips who were captured by the Japanese Navy and and taken prisoner. Transported to Japan they were detained at Tokyo until the end of the war.
The missing members of the crew were officially declared dead the day of the mission. Memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Honolulu Memorial (Punchbowl). In the 1960s, Torance Airport was renamed "Zamperini Field" in honor of Louis Zamperini.
Devil At My Heels by Louis Zamperini
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
NARA Prisoners of War Data File - Louis Zamperini
MACR 16163 lists this aircraft as a "B-17" and does not list the serial number
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
January 1, 2014