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  B-17E "Craps For The Japs" Serial Number 41-2653  
USAAF
5th AF
43rd BG
65rd BS

Click For Enlargement
43rd BG c1943

Pilot  1st Lt Michael La Porte, O-791123 (MIA / KIA) NY
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt Howard L. Munson, O-674612 (MIA / KIA) OH
Bombardier  2nd Lt Gordon R. Spoor, O-7329189 (MIA / KIA) CA
Navigator  2nd Lt William H. Vandergrift, O-797428 (MIA / KIA) NJ
Engineer  T/Sgt Idris T. Jenkins, 39090258 (MIA / KIA) CA
Radio  T/Sgt Alvan B. Rowe Jr., 14038511 (MIA / KIA) FL
Asst Radio / Gunner  S/Sgt Orville B. Severson, 36253506 (MIA / KIA) MN
Gunner  S/Sgt Robert J. Frankenberger, 32144483 (MIA / KIA) NY
Gunner  S/Sgt Ture E. Lindstrom, 32258128 (MIA / KIA) NY
Gunner  S/Sgt Francis W. Neville, 32502049 (MIA / KIA) NJ

MIA  September 2, 1943
MACR  14147

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, 43rd Bombardment Group, 65th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Craps For The Japs" with the nose art of a pair of dice.

Aircraft History
On November 6, 1942 this B-17 transported U. S. Army General MacAurthur to 7-Mile Drome at Port Moresby and was photographed on arrival.

Mission History
On September 2, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome at Port Moresby armed with 1,000 lb bombs on a bombing mission against Cape Gloucester Airfield. This B-17 was flying in the first element, no. 3 position. The weather over the target was poor and formation bombed from an altitude of 4,500'.

Over the target, there were both single and twin engine enemy aircraft in the vicinity. Three Ki-45 Nick twin engine fighters from the 13th Sentai on a ferry flight from Rabaul to Boram Airfield spotted the B-17 formation and attacked. The lead Ki-45 piloted by WO Mitsugi Hyakutomi with two replacement pilots.

After damaging the lead B-17, Hyakutomi attacked this bomber with cannon fire causing it to dive out of formation emitting black smoke. There were no witnesses to the crash. Some of the other crew members in the formation believed the B-17 crashed into the sea while others thought it crashed at the base of a 7,000' mountain. When this bomber failed to return, the entire crew was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

After the interception, the Ki-45 piloted by Hyakutomi was damaged by escorting P-38 Lightnings from the 49th Fighter Group but managed to return to Rabaul with a shattered canopy, damaged fuel tanks and 127 bullet holes in his fighter.

Memorials
The entire crew was declared dead on January 14, 1946. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Spoor has a memorial marker at Lakeview Cemetery in Sandpoint, ID.

Relatives
Emanuel A. La Porte (nephew of Michael La Porte)

References
Missing Air Crew Report 14147 (MACR 14147)
The 43rd Bomb Group records states 'subject aircraft missing on a mission over Lae'.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Michael La Porte
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Howard L. Munson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Gordon R. Spoor
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William H. Vandergrift
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Idris T. Jenkins
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Alvan B. Rowe Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Orville B. Severson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert J. Frankenberger
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ture E. Lindstrom
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Francis W. Neville
FindAGrave - 1Lt Michael La Porte (tablets of the missing photos)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Howard L Munson (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Gordon R Spoor (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Lieut Gordon Richard Spoor (memorial photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt William H Vandergrift (tablets of the missing photos)
News article "Local Bride Receives News Death of Husband"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2653
Ken’s Men Against The Empire pages 30, 200, 219, 223, 269-271, 321, 325, 327, 329, 341, 343, 366-367

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

Map
5.27
148.25

MIA
MIA
10 Missing

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