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  B-24D-15-CO Liberator Serial Number 41-23980  
USAAF
13th AF
307th BG
424th BS

Pilot  1st Lt. George K. Trager, O-442557 (MIA / KIA) Dickinson County, KS
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt Theodore Barton, O-662722 (MIA / KIA) Williamson County, TX
Navigator  2nd Lt. George G. Radford, O-387242 (MIA / KIA) ID
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Hiram E. Battersby, O-728250 (MIA / KIA) Delaware County, PA
Engineer  S/Sgt. William A. Stearns, 19049588 (MIA / KIA) Payne County, OK
Asst. Engineer  S/Sgt Leo J. Eilts, 39679465 (MIA / KIA) Sioux County, NE
Radio  T/Sgt Hiram W. Meigs, 20467632 (MIA / KIA) Birmingham, AL
Asst. Radio  S/Sgt Elmer J. Beaupre, 16037684 (MIA / KIA) IL
Gunner  Sgt Elbert H. Boyer, 36176998 (MIA / KIA) Wayne County, MI
Crashed  February 13, 1943
MACR  560

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated in San Diego. Constructors Number 772. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-15-CO Liberator serial number 41-23980. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to the South Pacific.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 307th Bombardment Group, 424th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial numbers 41-23??0, 42-4820, 42-??414 and 42-42379.

Mission History
On February 13, 1943 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by 1st Lt. George K. Trager as one of six B-24s in the second wave of a bombing mission against shipping in the Shortland-Buin area. The formation was escorted by 4 P-38s and 7 P-40s (inbound, 2 P-38s and 3 P-40s abort due to engine trouble). The weather was good visibility with scattered cumulus clouds.

Over the target, this B-24 suffered a direct hit by anti-aircraft fire over Shortland Harbor. It caught fire and disintegrated with the loss of the entire crew. When this bomber failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was B-24D 41-23975 (MIA).

Justin Taylan adds:
"I researched this mission at the Tokyo Defense archives. A total of 39 Japanese aircraft attacked the bomber formation including: 11 Rufes (one aborted) of 802 Kōkūtai, 20 Zeros of the 252 Kōkūtai and 9 Zeros of the 204 Kōkūtai."

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Three of the crew: Barton, Battersby and Boyer were officially declared dead April 13, 1943 in error. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Trager earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.

Barton earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Radford earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Battersby earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Stearns earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Evergreen Cemetery in Fayetteville, AR.

Meigs earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Eilts earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Zion United Church of Christ Cemetery in Gladstone, NE at 24W2.

Selvig earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Boyer earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

References
Note, pilot Trager is also sometimes listed as "Traeger" in wartime records
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - George K. Trager
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Theodore Barton
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Hiram E. Battersby
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - William A. Stearns
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Hiram W. Meigs
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Leo J. Eilts
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24D-15-CO Liberator 41-23980
"23980 (424th BS, 307th BG) lost Feb 13, 1943, Solomon Islands. MACR 560."
Missing Air Crew Report 560 (MACR 560) created September 1, 1943
Kodochosho, 802 Kōkūtai, February 13, 1943
Kodochosho, 204 Kōkūtai, February 13, 1943
Kodochosho, 252 Kōkūtai, February 13, 1943
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George K. Trager
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Theodore Barton date of death listed as April 13, 1943 [sic]
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George G. Radford
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Hiram E. Battersby date of death listed as April 13, 1943 [sic]
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William A. Stearns
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Hiram W. Meigs
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Leo J. Eilts
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Elbert H. Boyer date of death listed as April 13, 1943 [sic]
FindAGrave - 1Lt George K Trager (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2LT Theodore Barton (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2LT Theodore Barton (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt George G Radford (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Hiram E. Battersby (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt William Arthur Stearns (tablets of the missing, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT William Arthur Stearns (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - TSgt Hiram W Meigs (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Leo J Eilts (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Leo J. Eilts (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Elbert H Boyer (tablets of the missing photo)
Guadalcanal and the Origins of the 13th Air Force page 180-181
Vampire Squadron (1985) by William H. Starke pages 25-26

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Last Updated
June 4, 2019

 

Tech Information
B-24

MIA
MIA
9 Missing
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