|Pilot Lt Norman J. Summers (rescued) Fresno, CA
Gunner S/Sgt Bob Evans (rescued)
Ditched October 1, 1944
Built at Douglas. Delivered to the U. S. Army, serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 417th Bombardment Group, 674th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
Took off from Kornasoren Airfield on Noemfoor Island on a bombing mission against Langgoer Airfield in the Kai Islands Group. Damaged by anti-aircraft fire over the target in the left engine, this A-20 began loosing oil and the engine caught fire and fell out of formation. Escorted by A-20G piloted by Lt. Don Kline, this A-20's damaged engine failed near the coast of New Guinea.
Ditched in the sea between Adi Island and the mainland of New Guinea.
During the ditching, Summers impacted the gun sight and was wounded on the head. Also, Evans suffered a broken leg. From above, Kline confirmed both men exited the A-20 and successfully deployed their life raft.
Back at base, three A-20s from the squadron took off on a search mission to locate the downed crew and guide a Catalina to rescue them. The flight was led by Col. Johnson, the second by his younger brother, Major C. W. "Bucko" Johnson, and a third was piloted by Major R. P. Klein, who made contact with OA-10 Catalina "Daylight 30" returning from a mission over Timor, the three A-20s and OA-10 flew towards the area they had ditched, but failed to find the raft. In the vicinity, Col. Johnson spotted an E13 Jake seaplane and shot it down.
Unable to find the raft, the planes were departing when they spotted a red flare, 40 miles from where they were searching and found the raft. Unable to reach the OA-10 on radio, Johnson flew along side it and got it to turn around, while the other two circiled the raft.
In the late afternoon, short on fuel the Catalina landed to rescue the crew. The Catalina was piloted by Lt. Griffeth from the 3rd Emergency Rescue Squadron (ERS) with crew: Lt. Bill Laxson, Co-pilot; Lt. Joel Wareing, Navigator; T/Sgt.Jack Lessure, Engineer; S/Sgt John Cannon, Radio Operator; and S/Sgt. Gordon Whitney, Radar. Due to waves, the Catalina had to turn off its engines and Laxsn, with a rope around his waist swam out to the crew, and took off in choppy seas in near darkness, then landed at Sorido Airfield at 11:00pm and the rescued crew were sent to the hospital. A month later after R&R, Summers returned to combat and Evans was sent to the United States.
During 1999, the several of the OA-10's crew (Joe Wareing, Bill Laxson) were reunited with Summers and Johnson at the 417th Bomb Group Reunion at Oklahoma City.
417th BG Wartime Link between 417th and 3rd ERS
417th BG Reunion Page (paintings, map)
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January 5, 2018