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  B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-2643  
USAAF
5th AF
19th BG
93rd BS

Pilot  1st Lt. Hugh S. Grundmann, O-394075 (MIA / KIA)
Co-Pilot  1st L t LeRoy F. Foltz, O-659882 (MIA / KIA)
Crew  2nd Lt Donald L. Bonham, O-437934 (MIA / KIA)
Crew  2nd Lt Frank M. Burton Jr., O-724198 (MIA / KIA)
Crew  Pfc William A. Takala, 6575590 (MIA / KIA)
Crew  James T. McHugh, Jr., 12038087 (MIA / KIA)
Crew  Harry T. Isles, 13039171 (MIA / KIA)
Crew  Kenneth E. Dake, 12030269 (MIA / KIA) NY
Crew  Robert E. McClure, 12029957 (MIA / KIA)

Crashed  August 9, 1942
MACR  15660

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, 93rd Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or noseart. When lost, engine and weapon serial numbers were not noted.

Mission History
Took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby as the fourth position for a bombing mission against Rabaul. Due to engine trouble the plane lagged behind during the last few minutes before reaching the target.

Attacked by a large number of enemy fighters. This B-17 which was not supported by the fire power of the other three B-17s sustained the brunt of the enemy attacks. Leaving the target, this bomber was last observed losing altitude while fighting off repeated enemy attacks. Crashed at Rondahls Plantation near Kabanga Bay.

Wreckage
During the war, missionary Father Obereiter buried some of the remains. During 1946, RAAF Searcher Team led by S/L Keith Rundle visited this crash site and identified the B-17 from the tail serial number. Today the plantation where the crash site is located is known as Mokurapaua Plantation.

Recovery of Remains
The remains of the crew were recovered from the crash site including Grundmann and Takala who were identified. Plus the remains buried by missionary Father Obereiter were exhumed.

Brian Bennett adds:
"I had been to this site a number of times many years ago. For a long time it was mixed up with Hal Pease aircraft [B-17E "Why Don't We Do This More Often 41-2429] but of course turned out not to be so. The area where the crew remains were buried was correct and some years ago CILHI re-located all the graves. I recall that CILHI found one hand that had been left behind when the remains were disinterred post war. At one point there was a place on the plantation where a pig pen had been made using quite a lot of pieces of wreckage."

Memorials
Officially declared dead the day of the mission. Postwar, the crew who were recovered were buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at section 82, Site 1N-1P. This group burial includes the remains of McClure, Isles, Bonham, Burton Foltz Grundmann, and McHugh. Dake is buried at at Plot A Row 12 Grave 10 at Manila American Cemetery.

References
Note: Wartime reference mention the crash site being near Keravat, but this is incorrect.
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2643
Nationwide Gravesite Locator lists LeRoy & Burton's ranks as 1st Lt (posthumous promotion?)
Thanks to Brian Bennett for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-17

MIA
MIA
9 Missing
Resolved

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