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|Pilot 2nd Lt. Billy D. Sanders (survived) Piggott, AR
Gunner ? (survived)
Force Landed April 16, 1944 "Black Sunday"
Returning from the mission, the formation encountered a severe weather front. Sanders became lost in cloudy weather, separated and lost but managed to follow the New Guinea coastline in hopes of locating Saidor Airfield.
This A-20 ran out of fuel and force landed with the landing gear down near the Malas River. During the landing, the nose wheel collapsed, and the right wing impacted a tree, but both crew were unhurt in the landing. This A-20 was the 3rd Bombardment Group's only loss on the mission that was later dubbed "Black Sunday" for the number of aircraft lost.
Fates of the Crew
Responding to their call, a US Navy PBY Catalina piloted by Lt. Merritt from VPB-34 from USS Half Moon, who had just rescued another downed air crew. Circling, they spotted a column of Japanese soldiers a half mile away approaching the crash site.
Even when the PBY Catalina taxied up to them, both were still unaware that they were behind enemy lines. Sanders even invited the Navy crew members to join them for a swim before departing.
The Catalina's nose gunners response is unknown, but this humorous incident was quickly reported to 5th Air Force commander General Kenney at Nadzab, as one of the few humorous stories from "Black Sunday", and he even mentioned the incident in his memoirs, recalling his reaction to the rescue "That evening we got a chance to smile."
November 6, 1944 Saunders earned the Air Medal from Col. Jared V. Crabb for completing 45 missions.
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