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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. Delivered to the U. S. Army. 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. Aboard was "Crew No. 5" including 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.

On the morning of December 7, 1941 incoming Japanese aircraft detected on radar were dismissed as the expected flight of B-17s. The formation of B-17s arrived during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu. Flying through friendly anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighters 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. The other seven crew survived unhurt in the raft.

Search
After the reported ditching, the US Navy and US Army searched for this aircraft and reportedly sighted a life raft and seven of the crew were rescued.

Memorials
The two missing crew members: Dombrowski and Dutkiewicz were officially declared dead the day of the mission. Both are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl).

References
7 December 1941 - The Air Force Story - Appendix D - B-17s Arriving During the Attack - B-17C 40-2054
"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."
Fortress Against The Sun page 16, 382
Missing Air Crew Report 16123 (MACR 16123) created retroactively during 1945 or 1946.

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-17

Tech Info
MIA
2 Missing

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