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|Pilot Major Allan J. Sewart, O-022430 C. O. 26th BS (MIA / KIA) TX
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Jack Lee, O-433864 (KIA)
Navigator Lt. Nelson Levi (WIA)
Observer Colonel "Blondie" Saunders, C.O. 11th BG (WIA. survived)
Ditched November 18, 1942
Over the target, the formation was intercepted by fifteen Japanese fighters (40 fighters and floatplanes).
Richard Dunn adds:
Twice, this B-17 was attacked by fighters making head-on firing passes, concentrating on the bomber's nose. The attacks killed the pilot Sewart and mortally wounded the co-pilot Lee. Colonel Saunders, who was aboard as a passenger took the controls immediately.
Damaged during the attacks, the no. 2 engine was feathered and no. 1 engine was running away and smoking. The no. 2 fuel tank was on fire. The crippled bomber was escorted by the other B-17s away from the target, and was loosing altitude but able to fly on only two engines. The bomber managed to ditch off Baga Island (Mbava) near Vella Lavella and the crew successfully deployed their life rafts. Pilot Sewart was already dead and went down with the bomber as it sank.
Fates of the Crew
Meanwhile, Methodist nurse Merle Farland was notified of the wounded crew at 3:30am the next day. She departed immediately across the island and reached Paramata village. When she arrived, she arrived to diagnosed the wounded crew members, just as the rescuing PBY was heard. Without time to render medical treatment, the crew prepared to be rescued.
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