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On November 4, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Lt. Melville Ehlers with co-pilot Lt. Bill Wilson in a bombing mission against Lae. About 30 miles from the target at 15,000', one of the life rafts accidentally deployed, ripping off the radio aerial and wrapping around the port elevator, and the bomber descended to 9,300' and gunner Pfc Lowell Lee fired his machine gun at the raft to deflate it, but it remained wrapped around the elevator. Also aboard was navigator P/O John Edkins, RAAF. The crew attempted to continue the mission, but the life raft tore away part of the elevator, and they aborted the mission and managed to returned safely to 7-Mile Drome with the raft still attached to the damaged elevator.
Next, assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 65th Bombardment Squadron. On September 25, 1943 piloted by Harry Park.
On May 28, 1943 this B-17 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Captain Jay Zeamer, Jr. on a photographic reconnaissance and mapping mission over New Ireland making two runs over southeastern New Ireland. During the flight, sighted a "new" airfield, likely Namatanai Airfield and observed a convoy of three enemy ships. Afterwards, returned to 7-Mile Drome.
On June 2, 1943 this B-17 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Captain Jay Zeamer, Jr. on photographic reconnaissance and mapping mission from 20,000' over the Admiralties, then proceeded eastward mapping the Buka Passage from 11,000' then returned to 7-Mile Drome.
During early June 1943, this B-17 was field modified with an additional six 50 caliber machine guns added for defensive firepower. On June 15, 1943 this B-17 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Captain Jay Zeamer, Jr. on a local flight with ten aboard to test fire all sixteen 50 caliber machine guns and for a transition training flight before returning to 7-Mile Drome.
Over Buka Island, they observed approximately 22 enemy fighters taking off from Buka Airfield below. As this B-17 began its photographic run over Bougainville, it was was attacked head on by Zero fighters. The head-on attack knocked out the B-17's oxygen and hydraulic systems and all flight instruments. During this initial attack, bombardier 2nd Lt Joseph R. Sarnoski, O-888520 was wounded when a 20mm cannon round exploded in the nose. Although wounded, he he continued to fire the nose machine gun and claimed two enemy fighters, until he died at his battle station.
Zeamer, with a broken leg and multiple deep lacerations, put the bomber into an almost vertical dive from 25,000 feet to about 10,000 feet. He could judge his altitude only by the increase in engine manifold pressure. As he leveled off, an estimated 17 enemy fighters resumed the attack from all quarters, staying with the B-17 for 45 minutes until they ran low on fuel. During the running battle in which Zeamer saved the B-17 by taking violent evasive action. The crew claimed two fighters shot down and probably downed another two.
Although weak from pain and loss of blood, Zeamer refused medical aid and remained at the controls until the enemy fighters had left. He assessed the condition of the bomber, decided it could not make it over the Owen Stanley Mountains back to Port Moresby, so directed his co-pilot to land at Dobodura Airfield. With no brakes or flaps, the B-17 ground-looped to a stop with one dead and six wounded aboard.
On the ground, a total of 187 bullet holes from 7.7mm machine gun bullets and 5 cannon shells from 20mm shell hits were noted on the bomber. Aboard, Five crew members including Zeamer were wounded during the combat. Sarnoski died during the engagement. Only the co-pilot and two gunners were unhurt. Afterwards, Captain Jay Zeamer and 2/Lt Joseph R. Sarnoski both earned the Medal of Honor, while the remainder of the crew earned the Distinguished Service Cross for this mission.
During February 1944, flown back to the United States. Scrapped during August 1945 at Albuquerque, NM.
Zeamer retired from the USAF with the rank of Lt. Colonel. He died on March 22, 2007. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 34 site 809-4.
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