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|Pilot Captain Colin Purdie Kelly, Jr. (KIA , BR) Madison, FL
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Donald Robbins (survived)
Navigator 2nd Lt. Joe M. Bean (survived)
Bombardier Cpl Meyer Levin, 6975479 (survived) Brooklyn, NY
Engineer SSgt William J. Delehanty (KIA, BR) NY
Radio / Bathtub Gunner Pfc Robert E. Altman (survived)
Assistant Radio / Gunner Willard Money (survived)
Gunner Pvt Robert Altman (WIA)
Waist Gunner SSgt James Halkyard (survived)
Force Landed December 10, 1941
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17C Flying Fortress serial number 40-2045. Ferried overseas to the Philippines.
On the ground, this B-17 was only partially armed with three 600 lbs bombs before departing fearing a Japanese air raid before taking off again at 9:30am as one of four B-17s on a mission to bomb Japanese ships off Aparri and Vigan. The convoy had been spotted during the night and bombed during the first American bombing mission of the Pacific War earlier that morning. Over the target, B-17D 40-3091 piloted by Lt. Schaetzel spotted enemy transports and released his bombs from 25,000' before being jumped by Zeros and diving down to 7,000'.
This B-17 was next to arrive over Aparri and pilot Kelly saw no targets and proceeded south towards Vigan where Kelly spotted heavy cruiser Ashigara (falsely claimed to be Battleship Haruna). Bombardier Meyer Levin salvoed all three bombs from 22,000' and claimed one hit and observed a seaplane taking off from the deck. In fact, no damage was suffered aboard Ashigara and no battleship was part of the invasion force.
Before landing at Clark Field, intercepted by A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai including pilot Saburo Sakai. During the first firing pass, the Zeros hit the nose section with gunfire that damaged the pilot's instrument panel and killed SSgt Delehanty instantly when the top of his head was blown off. Afterwards, the same Zeros made repeated firing passes and started a fire in the bomb bay that engulfed the rear of the bomber.
Heavily damaged, Kelly ordered the rest of the crew to bail out while the two pilots held the bomber level. Several of the crew were strafed by the Zeros as they descended but all landed unhurt with the exception of Bean who was hit by a bullet in the ankle from the strafing.
Meanwhile, the B-17's two right engines were inoperative when an explosion ejected co-pilot Robbins out the observation dome, but he was able to open his parachute and landed safely.
As the stricken bomber descended, it exploded again and impacted the ground roughly six miles east of Clark Field near Mount Arayat. Pilot Kelly was killed in the final explosion or on impact. The rest of the surviving crew landed in the vicinity of Clark Field and quickly returned to duty.
Recovery of Remains
For his role in the December 10, 1941 bombing mission as bombardier aboard B-17C 40-2045 Levin was hailed as the first Jewish-American war hero and "Meyer Levin Day" was celebrated in Brooklyn, NY with a commemorative plaque given to his parents by local politicians. He continued to fly combat missions with the 43rd Bombardment Group in Australia and New Guinea until he went Missing In Action (MIA) on January 7, 1941 as bombardier aboard B-17F 41-24383 that ditched into the Gulf of Papua. In Australia, he had an Australian wife and fathered a son. Levin earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DSC), Silver Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart posthumously. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Eugene Eisenberg adds:
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