|Pilot 1st Lt. George K. Trager, O-442557 (MIA / KIA) Dickinson County, KS
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Theodore Barton, O-662722 (MIA / KIA) TX
Crew 2nd Lt. George G. Radford, O-387242 (MIA / KIA) ID
Crew 2nd Lt. Hiram E. Battersby, O-728250 (MIA / KIA) PA
Crew S/Sgt. William A. Stearns, 19049588 (MIA / KIA) OK
Crew T/Sgt Hiram W. Meigs, 20467632 (MIA / KIA) AL
Crew S/Sgt Leo J. Eilts, 39679465 (MIA / KIA) NE
Crew Sgt Herman E. Selvig, 16022598 (MIA / KIA) WI
Crew Sgt Elbert H. Boyer, 36176998 (MIA / KIA) MI
Crashed February 13, 1943
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.
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.
On February 13, 1943 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by 1st Lt. George K. Trager as one of six B-24s on a bombing mission against shipping in the Shortland-Buin area. This bomber was part of the second wave. 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).
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."
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. 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.
Radford and Stearns and Eilts earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Note, pilot Trager is also sometimes listed as "Traeger" in wartime records
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)
Guadalcanal and the Origins of the 13th Air Force page 180-181
Vampire Squadron, page 25-26
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) - Herman E. Selvig
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Elbert H. Boyer date of death listed as April 13, 1943 [sic]
- 1Lt George K Trager (tablets of the missing)
- Theodore Barton
- George G. Radford
- Hiram E. Battersby
William A. Stearns
- Hiram W. Meigs
- Leo J. Eilts
- Herman E. Selvig
- Elbert H. Boyer
Thanks to Paul Roales for additional information
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April 4, 2019