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  B-17E "Yankee Doodle" Serial Number 41-2463  
USAAF
13th AF
5th BG

Former Assignments
13th AF
5th BG
394th BS

11th BG
431st BS

Click For Enlargement
5th BG c1943

Click For Enlargement
307th BG August 2, 1943

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried to Hickam Field. Assigned to the 11th Bombardment Group, 431st Bomb Squadron as a replacement aircraft on October 20, 1942. Nicknamed "Yankee Doodle".

Wartime History
During late May 1942 flown from Hickam Field to Midway Airfield in anticipation of the Battle of Midway to search for Japanese Naval forces.

On June 4, 1942 one of nine B-17s that took off from Midway Airfield at 4:05am piloted by Captain Payne on a mission to search for the Japanese fleet at the start of the Battle of Midway. The formation was comprised of three plane elements. This bomber was part of the second element led by B-17E 41-2404 piloted by Captain Tokarz with B-17E piloted by Captain Sullivan. During the flight, this B-17 spotted enemy carriers and notified Captain Tokarz, then the element bombed. During the bomb run, the formation experienced intense anti-aircraft fire. Captain Tokarz was hit in the no. 4 engine, and ordered the element to circle around for another bomb run while he attempting to restart their no. 4 engine.

During the afternoon took off again from Midway Airfield piloted by Captain Payne with observer Col. Sweeney three other B-17s on a mission against a Japanese convoy reported southwest of Midway. During the flight, the formation received a message to attack an aircraft carrier 180 miles off Midway. Arriving over the Japanese fleet, they located Hiryu burning and searched the area for another reported undamaged carrier, but failed to find it.

Afterwards, flown back to Hickam Field then across the Pacific to the South Pacific.

During early January 1943 one of a dozen B-17s that operated briefly from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby then returned to Guadalcanal.

During the middle of 1943, this B-17 was assigned to the 5th Bomb Group, 394th Bomb Squadron.

On July 11, 1943 piloted by Lt. Eugene "Gene" Roddenberry flew this B-17 on a successful night mission to "harass" targets around Kahili on southern Bougainville dropping fragmentation cluster bombs.

On August 2, 1943, piloted by Lt. Roddenberry this B-17 attempted to take off from Guadalcanal (other sources state Espiritu Santo). Suffered an aborted take off (or mechanical failure) and crashed at the end of the runway. Aboard, two of the crew in the nose were killed in the crash: bombardier Sgt John P. Krueger and navigator Lt. Talbert H. Wollam. After the crash, a photograph was taken of the tail wreckage with the serial number '12483" visible.

Fellow B-17 pilot Leon Rockwell wrote in his diary on August 2, 1943:
"Approx 6:00 AM while at the Canal heard an explosion and ran from my tent to end of the Bomber Strip to see B-17 burning. It was piloted by Lt Gene Roddenberry... said he couldn't get takeoff air speed thus aborted the takeoff ran off the end of the runway into coconut palm tree stumps - Wiped out the undercarriage & nose of B-17 - Everyone got out except Sgt Krueger Bombardier and Lt. Wollam Navigator. Wollam was a good friend of mine. He had a wife and family in the States, had orders to go home but volunteered to replace Roddenberry's navigator who for some reason couldn't make the mission."

Officially, this B-17 was condemned on August 13, 1943.

Memorials
The two crew members killed in the August 2, 1943 crash were transported to the United States for permanent burial postwar. Krueger is buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Wheeling, WV. Wollam is buried at Somerville Cemetery in Somerville, OH at section BB lot 4.

Pilot Gene Roddenberry was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Air Medal for his wartime service. He became famous as the creator of the Star Trek series and passed away on October 24, 1991. A quarter ounce of the ashes were launched into orbit around the Earth in April 2007. More ashes were launched into deep space during 2009.

References
Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - B-17E 41-2463
Fortress Against The Sun page 180, 182, 187, 192, 367, 385
FindAGrave - Gene Roddenberry (photo)
FindAGrave - John Paul Krueger
FindAGrave - Talbert H. Wollam (photo, grave photo)
"1st Lt. Talbert H. Woolam was killed on an attempted take off of a B-17 Bomber in the New Herbrides Islands [sic] in the South Pacific during World War II on Aug. 2, 1943. He was a member of the 39th Heavy Bombardment Squadron. He entered the service in Apr. 1941 & trained at Oklahoma City & Lowery Field, Denver, Colorado. He was a graduate of LaJolla High School, LaJolla, CA. He attended one year in the Army & Navy Academy at San Diego. He graduated from Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL in 1939 following which he was employed at Armco & resided in West Elkton.
He was the son of Rev. Edgar & Clara Talbert Wollam. He leaves a wife Doris Schubert Wollam & son Gary Lee whom he had never seen. His sister Betty Bryant also survives. A memorial service was held Sept. 5, 1943 in the West Elkton Friends Church.
The remains of 1st. Lt. Talbert Wollam arrived in San Francisco on Feb. 21, 1948 aboard the U.S. Army Transport Cardinal O'Connell. Services were held in Eaton with his father Rev. Edgar Wollam officiating. Burial was in Somerville Cemetery on Mar. 15, 1948."
Thanks to Steve Birdsall, Pat Ranfranz and Daniel Leahy for additional information.

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Last Updated
March 4, 2018

 

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