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|Pilot Captain Thomas Classen
Crew Lt. Balfour Gibson
Crew Lt. Robert Dorwart
Crew Lt. Ernest Ruiz
Crew Sgt Jim Hunt
Crew Sgt. Don Martin
Crew Cpl Ted Edwards
Crew Cpl William Nichols
Crew Sgt Bob Turnbull
Ditched February 9, 1943
The B-17 had its no. 1 engine frozen from damage. Then, a second engine went out. Then a third, causing it to ditch over 450 miles from the nearest island. The B-17 hit a wave, nosed into another and sank within sixty seconds. The crew found themselves in the water, clinging to an inflated life boat and pumping another and managed to tie the two boats together and drifted away from the oil slick from the sunken bomber.
In an attempt to move closer to the Allied lines, the group attempted to buy a canoe from locals, but it failed to be seaworthy with only four loaded aboard. Later, they hired another native and his canoe to sailed down the coast for four days and met another group of natives, who had been sent by a pair of coastwatchers to find them. Escorted over a jungle trail to the coastwatcher's mountain observation post, where they met the coastwatchers and arranged their rescue by radio.
More than fifty days after their ditching, a PBY Catalina piloted by Robert B. Hays from VP-44, escorted by two PB4Y-1 Liberators from VB-101. The group in an outrigger was spotted by Hays, and he landed to rescue them, and then planned the rescue of the remaining men.
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