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|Pilot Captain Elmer Parsel (KIA / BR) Plymouth, OH
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Duke M. Paul (KIA / BR) Buncombe County, NC
Passenger Major Norman J. Lewellyn (KIA, BR) Jefferson County, KY
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Robert P. Spreng (KIA / BR) Richland County, OH
Navigator 2nd Lt. George C. Harkess (KIA / BR) Washington County, PA
Crew Sgt Raymond J. Gregor (KIA / BR) Allegheny County, PA
Crew Pfc Owen B. Knox (KIA / BR) Lawrence County, OH
Crew Pfc James C. Paounoff (KIA / BR) Hampden County, MA
Crew Pfc Willie T. Stokes (KIA / BR) Harris County, TX
Crashed April 2, 1942
Parsel was assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group, 7th Squadron in the Philippines. On the morning of December 22, 1941 he bombed enemy ships off Davao and transports in Lingayen Gulf on a mission that lasted over 32 hours. For this mission, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for "Courage, determination, and extraordinary flying skill on completing a bombardment mission of extreme importance." As of April 1942, he was one of the most seasoned B-17 pilots in the Philippines.
Major Norman J. Lewellynwas a non-flying senior aide to Major General Lewis H. Brereton. He departed the Philippines with Brereton as a passenger aboard a U. S. Navy PBY Catalina during the night of December 24-25,1941 arriving at Surabaya on Java. On February 23, 1942 when Brereton departed for India to take command of the command of the 10th Air Force, Lewellyn joined him.
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number unknown.
This B-17 was ferried overseas via the African route to Java and participated in the Java campaign then was evacuated to Darwin.
Assigned to the 7th Bombardment Group, 9th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
During the take off, this B-17 slipped off the runway, possibly because the crew forgot to unlock the controls. Trying to avoid a stump on the right side of the runway, Parsel attempted to pull up sharply, but the tail impacted the stump, tearing off one of the tail elevators. The bomber climbed to roughly 100', then rolled over into a gully and crashed. Although the bomb load did not detonate, the crash killed the entire crew.
There was a stump at the right side of the runway. Parsel saw it and pulled the nose and wheels clear, but the tail dropped down and snapped the stump, tearing off one of the plane's elevators. It rose into the air a hundred feet or so, then arched over into the far side of a gully at right angles to the runway. Though the bombs did not detonate, the crash killed everyone on board. Parsel received the Purple Heart.
Meanwhile, another B-17 in the flight suffered mechanical trouble, and the entire mission was aborted.
Paul also has a memorial marker in Riverside Cemetery, Asheville, NC at section N lot 60.
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