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  B-17E "Texas Tornado" Serial Number 41-2667  
USAAF
5th AF
19th BG

Click For Enlargement
Click For Enlargement
NZ Wings June 9, 1942

Pilot  Col Richard Cobb (KIA, BR) MA
Co-pilot  Capt James R. Bruce, Jr. (KIA, BR) MI
Navigator  2nd Lt Edward H. Hoffman (KIA, BR) OH
Crew  T/Sgt Charles P. Brunson, Jr., 6393791 5th BG, 31st BS (KIA , BR) AL
Crew  Sgt Harry Cohn, 06948800 (KIA, BR) PA
Crew  Sgt Joe F. Lopez (KIA, BR) TX
Crew  Cpl John R. Clanton, 7021855 5th BG, 31st BS (KIA, BR) PA
Crew  Cpl James Herriotts, Jr., 13004012 (KIA, BR) Philadelphia, PA
Crew  PFC Curtis L. Childers, 7083882 5th BG, 31st BS (KIA, BR) FL
Passenger  Lt. William E. Hurst, USN (KIA, BR) NB
Passenger  Capt Jean Githerd, Free French Navy liaison officer (KIA, BR)

Crashed  June 9, 1942 at 12:00am

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. Nicknamed "Texas Tornado".

Mission History
On June 9, 1942 took off from Whenuapsi Airfield from runway 21 shortly after midnight on a flight bound for Laverton Airfield near Melbourne. This B-17 crashed on take off and narrowly missed the residence of George Sinton, a local farmer. Aboard, two of the four 500 lbs. bombs exploded on impact, killing the entire crew and creating a larger crater. Sinton’s house was damaged and thousands awaken by the explosion.

The cause of the crash was never determined. When taking off from a bright flare-path-lit runway and with landing lights on during a moonless night, as soon as the aircraft left the runway and turned out its landing lights, the pilots would have been subjected to a short period of visual distortion. It is possible that this is what happened as at the critical moment he would have been unable to check his altimeter, with the result that the aircraft lost altitude and crashed into the rising ground, or engine failure.

Memorials
The remains of the crew were recovered and were buried with military honors in a ceremony attended by senior officers based in the Auckland area, with a Navy and Army honor guard of six officers and six other ranks acting as pall bearers.

Postwar, the remains of the crew were transported to Hawaii and the United States for permenant burial.

Three of the crew are buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). Brunson at Plot B Row 0 Grave 958. Clanton Plot O Row 0 Grave 15 and Childers at Plot B Row 1 Grave 271. The others are presumed buried in private cemeteries.

Three of the crew are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Cobb at section 11, site 537. Bruce at section 12, site 894. Hurst at section 12 site 2853.

Three of the crew are buried in private cemeteries:
Cohn is buried at Agudas Israel Cemetery in Hazleton, PA.
Lopez is buried at Taft Memorial Park in Taft, TX.
Herriotts is buried at Fern Knoll Burial Park in Dallas, PA.
Githerd's burial is unknown.

A commemorative plaque was dedicated to the crew on November 2, 1998 at Whenuapsi Airfield.

References
NZ Wings "The Tragedy of te Texas Tornado" by Ewing Stephens October 1993
NZ Wings Letter to the Editor: Fortress Crash February 1994
NZ Wings Letter to the Editor: Fortress Crash March 1994
FindAGrave - Col Richard E Cobb (grave photo)
FindAGrave - CPT James R Bruce, Jr (grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Edward Hall Hoffman (grave photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Charles Pinckney Brunson, Jr (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - SGT Harry Cohn
FindAGrave - TSGT Joe F Lopez (grave photo)
FindAGrave - CPL John Robert Clanton (grave photo)
FindAGrave - CPL James Herriotts, Jr
FindAGrave - Pvt Curtis Lowell Childers (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Edwin William Hurst (photo, grave photo)

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-17
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