|Pilot Captain Glenn H. Kramer (rescued)
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Blech (rescued)
Navigator 2nd Lt. Crawford (rescued)
Bombardier Sgt Bruce (rescued)
Engineer SSgt Mroczke (rescued)
Assistant Engineer Sgt Weed (rescued)
Radio-Gunner Sgt Enstrom (rescued)
Radio-Gunner SSgt Freebourn E. Durrett, 6544624 (MIA / KIA) TX
Tail Gunner Sgt Hellister (rescued)
MIA June 5, 1942
Built by Boeing at Seattle. This B-17 was purchased with donations from citizens of San Francisco, California. Nicknamed "City of San Francisco". Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2415. Assigned to the 11th Bombardment Group, 26th Bombardment Squadron.
Assigned to the 7th Air Force, 18th Bombardment Wing, 5th Bombardment Group, 31st Bombardment Squadron based at Hickam Field on Oahu.
On June 4, 1942 one of six B-17s that took off from Hickam Field at 8:15am piloted by Captain Glenn H. Kramer with an extra bomb bay fuel tank on a flight to Midway Airfield on Eastern Island in anticipation of the Battle of Midway. This bomber was part of the first element, third position.
On June 5, 1942 one of five B-17s as part of "Flight 93" led Capt. Donald E. Ridings that took off from Midway Airfield on Eastern Island piloted by Captain Glenn H. Kramer at 3:45pm on a mission to locate Japanese aircraft carriers to the northwest of Midway retreating after the Battle of Midway.
The weather was cloudy to the north with heavy overcast at 12,000' and the bombers were unable to find the carriers. At 6:25pm the bombers located a heavy cruiser at bearing 320° roughly 425 miles off Midway and made a bombing run from 11,000'. The cruiser (likely Mogami or Mikuma) maneuvered violently and responded with with anti-aircraft fire. The formation dropped thirty-two bombs and claimed two near misses during the first bomb run then made a second bomb run.
Returning from the mission at about 11:30pm this bomber radioed "out of gas and landing" then ditched into the sea west of Midway. Durrett was last seen during the ditching and went Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost is B-17E 41-9212 (MIA).
Fates of the Crew
The remainder of the crew survived the ditching and were later rescued. Captain Kramer suffered severe sunburn on his arms, Bleck and Crawford suffered minor bruises, Bruce suffered a sprained ankle, Mraczke suffered a shoulder and left leg injuries. Wood suffered cracked or broken ribs. Enstrom minor cuts and bruises. Helister was injured.
Durrett was officially declared dead the day of the mission and earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on court 7. Durrett also has a memorial marker at Lakeview Cemetery in Memphis, TX at lot 2.
Missing Air Crew Report
16541 (MACR 16541) created retroactively details both B-17E 41-2415 or B-17E 41-2529
Page 2: "Captain Kramer's plane, reported the following pertinent facts, as reported in the report:
1. Their ship had been forced down some 300 miles from Midway (west) after running out of gasoline."
USN "Battle of Midway" states: "Captain Glenn H. Kramer's plane exhausted its gasoline before reaching the island and landed fifty miles out at sea with the loss of F. E. Durrett, radio operator."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Freebourn E. Durrett
FindAGrave - SSgt Freebourn E Durrett (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Freebourne Durrett (memorial marker photo)
Fortress Against The Sun pages 180-190, 384
USAF Serial Number Search Results B-17E 41-2524
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
February 4, 2018