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  B-17E "Madame X" Serial Number 41-2525  
USAAF
13th AF
5th BG
31st BS

Former Assignment
11th BG
98th BS

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USAAF c1942

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USN c1943

Pilot  1st Lt. Richard A. Snoddy, O-725217 (MIA / KIA) Straford, OK
Co-Pilot  1st Lt. Frank D. Sprague, O-725219 (MIA / KIA) De Moines, IA
Bombardier  TSgt Lawrence O. Habermehl, 6581281 (MIA / KIA) Salt Lake City, UT
Navigator  SSgt Ernest N. Bowser, O-797255 (MIA / KIA) Washington County, MD
Engineer  TSgt J. H. Swanner, 14037725 (MIA / KIA) Knoxville, TN
Asst Engineer  SSgt Lawrence E. Hill, 19053554 (MIA / KIA) Shreveport, LA
Radio  MSgt Carl M. Mosher, 6916132 (MIA / KIA) Traverse City, MI
Asst Radio  Sgt Clifford M. Wolff, 18007047 (MIA / KIA) West Englewood, NJ
Gunner  SSgt Frederick H. Swonsey, 39165588
(MIA / KIA) South Gate, CA
MIA  June 9, 1943 at 19:10
MACR  799

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2525. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field to the South Pacific.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 11th Bombardment Group, 98th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Madame X" on the right side of the nose. Above was as scoreboard with three Japanese rising sun flags indicating victory claims and eight bombs indicating missions flown. Also the silhouette of a warship claimed.

This B-17 was flown from Hickam Field piloted by 1st Lt. Richard A. Snoddy with an extra bomb bay fuel tank to Midway Airfield on Eastern Island and participated in the Battle of Midway.

Later, transfered to the 5th Bombardment Group, 31st Bombardment Squadron. Afterwards, flown across the Pacific Ocean to the South Pacific. This bomber flew at least eight bombing missions, claimed three fighters and a ship. When lost, engine R-1820-65 serial numbers 41-24891, 41-24890, 41-24592 and 41-23868. Weapon serial numbers not noted in Missing Air Crew Report 799 (MACR 799).

Mission History
On June 9, 1943 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal on a night bombing mission against Kahilli Airfield (Buin Airfield) on Bougainville. Over the target at dusk, this bomber was last contacted by radio at 7:10pm. When this B-17 failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). This bomber was believed to be lost in the vicinity of the target area.

Search
The next day, three B-17s from the 31st Bombardment Squadron led by Captain Carroll searched for this bomber unsuccessfully. Several US Navy planes also conducted searches without results. On June 12, 1943 two B-17s led by Captain Roberts conducted another search without results.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead on December 19, 1945. The crew (with the exception of Bowser) are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Snoddy earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Sprague earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Sacramento Memorial Lawn Cemetery in Sacramento, CA.

Habermehl earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Bowser earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing, court 7. He also has a memorial marker at River View Cemetery at Williamsport, MD.

Swanner earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Berry Highland Memorial Cemetery in Knoxville, TN.

Hill earned Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Mosher earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Ogdensburg Cemetery at Mapleton, MI.

Wolff earned Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Swonsey earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Purple Heart, posthumously.

References
Previously, pilot 1st Lt. Richard A. Snoddy flew missions during the Battle of Midway.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2525
Missing Air Crew Report 799 (MACR 799) incorrectly states the date of loss as June 10, 1943
Fortress Against The Sun page 386
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Richard A. Snoddy
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank D. Sprague
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lawrence O. Habermehl
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ernest N. Bowser
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - J. H. Swanner
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lawrence E. Hill
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Carl M. Mosher
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Clifford M. Wolff
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frederick H. Swonsey
FindAGrave - 1Lt Richard A. Snoddy (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Frank D. Sprague (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Frank D. Sprague (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Lawrence O. Habermehl (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Ernest N Bowser (courts of the missing photo, date of death listed as June 10, 1943 [sic])
FindAGrave - Ernest N Bowser (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt J. Harold Swanner (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Jacob Swanner (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Lawrence E. Hill (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Carl M Mosher (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - MSgt Carl M. Mosher (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Clifford Martin Wolff (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Clifford Martin Wolff (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Frederick W. Swonsey (tablets of the missing photo)
Thanks to Steve Birdsall for additional information

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Last Updated
October 18, 2018

 

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