|Missing In Action (MIA)||Prisoners Of War (POW)||Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)|
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|Pilot 1st Lt. John M. Woodard, O-725563 (KIA, BR) Ontario, TX
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Russell S. Emerick, O-793089 (KIA, BR)
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Jack K. Wisener, O-662327 (POW, survived) Ponta, TX
Navigator 1st Lt. Philip L. Bek, O-724280 (POW, executed, BR)
Engineer T/Sgt. Leonard J. Skarr, 17017955 (KIA, BR)
Gunner S/Sgt. Stewart D. Nisbet, 31053245 (KIA, BR)
Gunner S/Sgt. Maurice F. Sayer, 17038428 (KIA, BR)
Gunner Sgt. Chris B. Cousino, 15012471 (KIA, BR)
Gunner Sgt. Boyd H. Parker, 19004786 (KIA, BR)
Gunner Cpl. Julius Hamershlag, 32160683 (KIA, BR)
Crashed June 13, 1943 at 3:20am
On February 23, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby on a night mission over Rabaul. Over the target, this B-17 was caught in searchlights and dived steeply to escape the beam. Incorrectly believing the bomber was hit and going down, tail gunner Pfc Arthur Mirarchi, 12029834 of New York bailed out. He landed in the sea south of Tavurvur and was captured by Makinami and transported to Rabaul where he was handed over to the 81 Navy Garrison Unit and was imprisoned as a Prisoner Of War (POW). He did not survive captivity and was officially declared dead on December 17, 1945. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
When this B-17 failed to return, it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). That same night, two other bombers were damaged: one B-17 from the 65th Bombardment Squadron and B-17F "The Old Man" 41-24403 was badly damaged by anti-aircraft and night fighter attacks. Although a Japanese night fighter had been seen in the area, the loss was officialy attributed to heavy anti-aircraft fire.
In fact, this B-17 was intercepted from below by a night fighter J1N1 Irving piloted by Shigetoshi Kudo after it had been caught in search light beams at 3:14am. The bomber was hit by 20mm cannon shells and fatally damaged. In the nose, bombardier Wisener had removed his parachute and was attending to paperwork when the B-17 was unexpectedly and violently hit. Wisener entered the cockpit and saw that both pilots and the top turret gunner were dead. The only other person still alive in the nose was navigator Bek. Wisener hurriedly put on his parachute and jumped with only the shoulder straps and one leg strap attached from the nose escape hatch. Bek also managed to bail out through the same hatch. The fatally damaged and on fire, this B-17 crashed northeast of of Ubili Airfield (Sule) near Ulamona.
Jose Holguin noted in his diary on June 13, 1943:
Fates of the Crew
On November 25, 1943 Bek was executed with several other 43rd Bomb Group POWs. Japanese records falsely claimed that Bek was transported to Japan aboard the Kokai Maru departing February 20, 1944 and was killed in the sinking when it was bombed by American aircraft (this was false).
Wisener bailed out and landed in the jungle and wandered for nine days until he found a plantation with a "Dutchman" owner, who gave him food, but sent a runner to nearby Japanese forces who arrived soon after and took him prisoner and transported him to Rabaul detained by the Japanese Navy Keibitai (Naval Special Police), 81st Naval Guard Unit at the Japanese Navy POW Camp at Rabaul. As a prisoner, Wisener was beaten and interrogated repeatedly. Later, he was transported to Japan and held at Omori POW Camp near Tokyo. He survived the war and was liberated and returned to the United States.
In 1947 (or possibly 1949) two American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) personnel walked to this crash site from the coast and spent a few hours at the crash site, and recovered a human remains.
Brian Bennett adds:
Later, circa 1989(?) another team from US Army CILHI visited the crash site, but did not stay for an extended period.
On March 12, 2016 visited by David Flinn, Robert Rawlinson and Lance from USNS Safeguard T-ARS-50.
The burial of Skarr is unknown, presumed to be a private cemetery in his hometown.
Bek is buried at Riverside Catholic Cemetery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Edward Rogers adds:
Wisener died on March 20, 1980. His buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Wells, TX.
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