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  B-29-15-MO Superfortress Serial Number 42-65226  
USAAF
20th AF
58th BW
444th BG
677th BS

Aircraft Commander  Major Joseph H. Wilson, Jr., O-413029 (survived) Gainsville, GA
Co-Pilot  1st Lt. Russell G. Fitzgerald, O-808530 (survived) West Medway, MA
Navigator  1st Lt. Carroll N. Osterdahl, O-739573 (MIA / KIA, BR) Santa Barbara, CA
Bombardier  1st Lt. Edward Heiss, O-686085 (MIA / KIA) Brooklyn, NY
Engineer  1st Lt. Charles E. Vail, O-860970 (MIA / KIA) What Cheer, IA
Radar  1st Lt. Robert W. Yowell, O-862033 (MIA / KIA) Peela Mills, VA
Radio  SSgt Jerry D. Roberts, 18226784 (survived) Jacksonville, TX
Top Gunner  Sgt Philip Wolk, 32605025 (MIA / KIA, BR) Bronx, NY
Right Gunner  SSgt Boyd M. Gumbert (MIA / KIA, BR) New Kessington, PA
Left Gunner  SSgt Samuel B. Ellis, Jr., 34687577 (MIA / KIA) Pitts, GA
Tail Gunner  TSgt  Alerick A. Halt , 37160988 (MIA / KIA) Lindstrom, MN

Crashed  January 11, 1945 at 8:00pm
MACR  10878

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing. Assigned to the 20th Air Force, 444th Bombardment Group, 677th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. Engine and weapon serial numbers listed in MACR.

Mission History
Took off from Dudhkundi AIrfield in India on a bombing mission against Singapore to bomb the Salita Naval Base. Last contact was made at the initial point of the bomb run and via radio. Over the target at 22,000' this B-29 was hit by anti-aircraft fire in the bomb bay area and exploded. Three of the crew parachuted out, the rest are presumed to have died in the explosion or crash.

Fates of the Crew
Wilson, Fitzgerald, Heiss, Yowell and Roberts were thrown clear of the bomber by the explosion and parachuted safety. By evening, they were located and assembled together by friendly Chinese guerrillas. Later that same night, Heiss and Yowell were captured by the Japanese and taken to either Singapore or Johore, and presumed to have been killed.

Later, Wilson, Fitzgerald and Roberts were later rescued by US Navy submarine.

Wreckage
Postwar, during 1947 a RAF Searcher Team visited the crash site of a B-29 wreck with three propellers, parts of the fuselage and engine parts scattered over a mile area at 01. 30.5 N 103. 49.5 E, 1 mile 300 degrees from nearest village Tong San, Masai, Johore, Malaya. No indentity markings of the aircraft were found.

Recovery of Remains
At this unidentified crash site, the remains of two crew were found buried nearby, designated X-144 and X-145. During April 1948 the remains of X-144 were re-examined by the American Graves Registration Service (Pacific Zone) and dental and physical characteristics were determined to be consistent with and unanimously declared to be the remains of Sgt. Philip Wolk, a crew member of this B-29.

Also, the remains of Osterdahl and Gumbert were identified and returned to the United States, precise details unknown.

Memorials
The missing crew members were officially declared dead on February 10, 1945. They are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Osterdahl is buried at Clifford Cemetery in North Dakota. Gumbert is buried Long Island National Cemetery at section J site 15221.

References
ABMC lists the missing crew members as dead February 10, 1945 and does not all crew
RAF Search Report No. 9, Search Party No. 10, RAF Command Far East, Sept. 9, 1947
MACR 10878 page 5 states that nose wreckage from this B-29 was displayed in Singapore on January 15, including the nickname "Calamity Jane" and nose art of a cowgirl. [Possibly wreckage from B-29 "Calamity Jane" 42-24589 MIA February 1, 1945
In late 1990s a group of divers found an intact B-29 in Kuantan waters, which was believe to possibly be this bomber, but is not due to the circumstance of its loss.

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Last Updated
January 1, 2014

 

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