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Former Unit Assignments
On October 5, 1942 one of six B-17 30th Bombardment Squadron piloted by Major Rouse took off from Mareeba Airfield and refueled at 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby then took off again on a bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. Over the target at 24,000' at dawn, the weather was clear but a cloud was over the target, requiring the formation to go around for another bomb run. Because of the delay, the formation was attacked by approximately 25 Zeros making head on attacks. This B-17 was hit in the nose, knocking out the no. 2 engine and wounding the navigator PO Allan Davenport in the leg. Damaged, this bomber fell back in the formation.
During January 1943, this B-17's nose art was over painted and the bomber was renamed "The Old Man" in Old English font with the nose art of Uncle Sam giving the thumbs up and wearing a top hat. Serviced by crew chief Ernie Vandal, A. C. C. John Duck, Mike Espinosa, William "Bill" McMurray.
On March 8, 1943 took off on a solo reconnaissance mission on over the Solomon Sea and Gasmata.
The crew included: pilot Melvin "Dutch" Ehlers (WIA), co-pilot Joseph Cochran (WIA), Navigator Warren "Doc" Bryant (WIA), Bombardier Thomas Lloyd "Breezy" Boren (WIA), engineer Madison, radio operator Boly, ball turret gunner Andrade, gunner Gerriola, photographer MSgt Leonard Francis Williams of Brooklyn, New York and tail gunner Sgt David Eckholt.
When this B-17 overflew Gasmata Airfield, thirteen Zeros intercepted the bomber. When spotted, the bombardier Boren jettisoned their bombs and the bomb bay long range fuel tank. The bomber was attacked by the Zeros for forty-five minutes before the B-17 was able to reach the clouds and escape.
During the combat, an A6M Zero put a burst of gunfire into the nose, wounding Boren in the left arm severely. He used a belt of ammunition as a tourniquet, and kept shooting. The pilot was shot so bad he was unconscious for the flight home. Co-pilot Cochran was also wounded. The navigator was badly wounded plus two other crew members sustained minor wounds. Five Zeros were claimed as shot down.
Robert Rocker recalls his interviews with Boren:
Repaired, this B--17 later became the personal transport of General Whitehead (C. O. 5th Fighter Command). The nose art remained, but bomb markings were painted over, with only the last four digits of the serial number '403' on the tail.
In 1948, this B-17 was scrapped at Clark Field.
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