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  B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-2505  
USAAF
5th AF
19th BG
30th BS

Click For Enlargement
Brian Bennett 1986

Pilot  1st Lt. Daniel W. Fagen, O-398681 (MIA / KIA) OK
Co-Pilot  Lt Robert R. Meyer, Jr., O-416325 (MIA / KIA) AL
Navigator  2nd Lt. Ralph Howard, O-431678 (MIA / KIA) CA
Bombardier  Lt. Jim Sam Grant, O-419265 (MIA / KIA) AR
Crew
  Sgt Joe A. Carter, 6579316 (MIA / KIA) La Jolla, CA
Gunner
  Sgt Edward L. Hargrove, 6580643 (MIA / KIA) CA
Gunner  
Sgt. Paul A. Reimer, 6580519 (MIA / KIA) CA
Gunner
  Sgt. Elton J. Rose, 6241916 (MIA / KIA) CA

Crashed  April 25, 1942 at 04:46
MACR  15500

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 19th Bombardment Group, 30th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.

On April 24, 1942 four B-17s, led by Major Montgomery mission took off from Cloncurry Airfield, and landed at Garbutt Airfield near Townsville to be briefed and bombs loaded. Departed Townsville mid-afternoon, the B-17s then landed at 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby in the early evening to avoid Japanese air raids. The planned departure was set for 0330 hours the next morning.

Mission History
On April 25, 1942 took off from7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby at 3:30am on a bombing mission against Rabaul. This B-17 was heard circling Port Moresby before heading away. This B-17 failed to return from the mission and the crew was listed as MIssing In Action (MIA).

Search
During November 1942 while the searching for C-47 "Flying Dutchman" 41-18564, this B-17 was seen from air, but identity of wreckage was not determined and described as complete from the trailing edge of the wing to the tail. During March 1961, the wreck was again spotted from the air during a search for a missing Piaggio.

Wreckage
This B-17 cashed into the southeastern upper slopes of Mount Obree at roughly 9,000' elevation.

On September 2, 1961 a team from U. S. Army consisting of Lt. Jospeh Wheeler and Sargeant Henry Paolillo arrived to identify several wrecks recently reported. They trekked to the crash site with Australian Patrol Officer (Kiap) David Marsh who gave erroneous information that the plane was associated with a B-17 which a war correspondent had bailed out. The team reconnoitered the crash site and identified the bomber as B-17E 41-2505. But, incorrectly had the aircraft listed as one that the crew bailed out and survived.

During 1984, PNG Museum modern history curator Bruce Hoy convinced the U.S. Army CILHI that this crash site was worthy of re-examination. Through assistance of villagers from Saunom, a helipad was constructed at 11,000' on a ridge above the wreck. On June 15, 1986 Bruce Hoy landed at the site.

Recovery of Remains
On July 5, 1986 U.S. Army CILHI arrived at the crash site with an eight man team, including Bruce Hoy, of the PNG National Museum. After establishing a campsite, the team began clearing the site and mapping the locations of the various parts of the aircraft. By early afternoon, the first portions of remains had been located. Three days were spent in searching the area, during which the remains of four others were located.

During June 19 - July 12, 1987 a second recovery mission was undertaken by U.S. Army CILHI and the remains of the rest of the crew were recovered and the cockpit section was found in the bed of a small stream. In addition, many personal belongings were recovered, including wallets, and camera with spare lenses, knives from Mindanao, and the remains of wrist watches. No dog tags were found. The cockpit clock was stopped at 04:46.

An intact 50 caliber machine gun from the left waist gun was recovered from the aircraft. The U.S. Army CILHI EOD field stripped the weapon and oen night and actually fired the gun over a ridge using ammunition found at the site. Later, this machine gun was flown out aboard a helicopter and donated to the PNG War Museum.

Memorials
The crew were officially declared dead April 26, 1943. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

On November 15, 1990 after years of identification, the entire crew was given a full military burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Three of the crew could not be individually identified and were buried in a group burial. The other five were buried separately.

Crew History
Prior to the Pacific War, Meyer, Howard, Hargrove and Rose visited Rabaul during November 1941 as part of a B-17 delivery flight from Hickam Field across the Pacific to the Philippines. Reportedly, in 1942 Grant had dream in 1942 about the name "Owen Stanley Mountains". After the loss of this B-17, the Meyer family offered a one million dollar reward to find wreck, but were discouraged by US Army's MACR saying the B-17 was lost heading out to the Coral Sea. The pilot's widow remarried (Mrs Fagen-Plover).

Relatives
Douglas Wilcox (nephew of Jim Grant)
"I was present along with other family members at Arlington National Cemetery in the internment of the crew that perished."

References
Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 15500 incorrectly lists the loss location as over the "Coral Sea"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2505
Paradise Magazine (Air Niugini in-flight magazine) "Fortress on Mt. Obree" by Bruce Hoy
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) lists '"remains recovered" for each crew member
Thanks to Bruce Hoy and Brian Bennett for details on the discovery and recovery, and to Brian Bennett for the photograph. Also, Michael Kindig for information about Sgt. Carter.

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-17

MIA
MIA
8 Missing
Resolved

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