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  B-17C Flying Fortress Serial Number 40-2054  
USAAF
2nd AF
303rd BG
360th BS

Former Assignments
11th BG
38th RS / 431st BS

Pilot  1st William S. Raper, O-421658 (survived)
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Edwin L. Sterling, O-436019 (survived)
Navigator  2nd Lt. Frank E. Ross, Jr., O-724072 (survived)
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Foster G. Daniels, O-724143 (survived)
Engineer  Sgt Alva E. Dye, 33087947 (survived)
Radio  Sgt Walter Dombrowski, 11021002 (MIA / KIA) MA
Gunner  Pvt Walter J. Dutkiewicz, 12049789 (MIA / KIA) NJ
Assistant Engineer  Cpl Jessie R. Downard, 17015695 (survived)
Assistant Radio  Pvt Robert J. McKeage, 13045970 (survived)
Ditched  June 15, 1942 at 9:00pm
MACR  16123

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2055. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17C Flying Fortress serial number 40-2054. Assigned to the 11th Bombardment Group, 38th Reconnaissance Squadron / 431st Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Wartime History
On December 6, 1941 took off from Hamilton Field on an unarmed ferry flight bound for Hickam Field on Oahu. This bomber had the .50 caliber machine guns installed but carried no ammunition. Aboard was "Crew No. 5" including pilot 1st Lt Earl J. Cooper, co-pilot 2nd Lt Richard J. Eberenz, 2nd Lt John A. Crockett, Aviation Cadet Jim R. Buchanan, TSgt Jesse R. Broyles, Sgt Joseph J. Bruce, Sgt Lee W. Best, Cpl Elmer G. Lippold, and Pvt Don C. McCord, Jr.

On December 7, 1941 in the morning incoming Japanese aircraft detected on radar were dismissed as the expected flight of B-17s and arrived during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu. This B-17 flew through friendly anti-aircraft fire and A6M2 Zeros before successfully landing at Hickam Field without mishap.

Later, assigned to the 2nd Air Force, 303rd Bombardment Group, 360th Bombardment Squadron.

Mission History
On June 15, 1942 took off from Hickam Field on a patrol and search mission. Returning, pilot Raper reported that he was low on fuel and did not know their position with a 300' ceiling. Out of fuel, this B-17 ditched at a bearing off Oahu of 262°, roughly 145 miles away (other sources say a bearing of 270° and 130 miles away). After ditching, one life raft was released and the top escape hatch failed to open. Two of the crew were not seen again and reported as Missing In Action (MIA).

Fates of the Crew
The other seven crew were unhurt and successfully deployed the bomber's life raft.

Search
After the reported ditching, the U. S. Navy (USN) and U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) aircraft searched for this bomber and the crew. After sighting a life raft the seven crew were successfully rescued.

Memorials
The two missing crew members: Dombrowski and Dutkiewicz were officially declared dead the day of the mission and remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Both are memorialized at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing, court 7.

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17C Flying Fortress 40-2054
"2054 (38 RS, 11 BG) was one of the planes that arrived over Pearl Harbor Dec 7, 1941. Crashed 130 mi off Oahu, Hawaii Jun 15, 1942. MACR 16123. 7 survived, two killed."
7 December 1941 - The Air Force Story - Appendix D - B-17s Arriving During the Attack - B-17C 40-2054
"Status as of 1845, 8 Dec 1941: B-17C 40-2054, 1st Lt Earl J. Cooper, Hickam Field, In Commission
"Crew No. 5: 1st Lt Earl J. Cooper, 2d Lt Richard J. Eberenz, 2d Lt John A. Crockett, Avn Cdt Jim R. Buchanan, TSgt Jesse R. Broyles, Sgt Joseph J. Bruce, Sgt Lee W. Best, Cpl Elmer G. Lippold, and Pvt Don C. McCord, Jr."
Missing Air Crew Report 16123 (MACR 16123) created retroactively during 1945 or 1946.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Walter Dombrowski
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Walter J. Dutkiewicz
FindAGrave - Sgt Walter J Dombrowski (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Pvt Walter J Dutkiewicz (courts of the missing photo)
Fortress Against The Sun page 16, 382

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Last Updated
October 18, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-17

Tech Info
MIA
2 Missing
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