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  B-24D-50-CO "Virgin III" Serial Number 42-40327  
USAAF
5th AF
90th BG
320th BS

Pilot  1st Lt John B. Willcoxon, O-662616 (MIA / KIA, BNR) Oberlin, KS
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt Thomas M. Magness, O-662580 (MIA / KIA, BNR) CA
Bombardier  1st Lt George T. Maher, O-662286, (MIA / KIA, BR)
Navigator  1st Lt Irving Adler, O-728327 (MIA / KIA, BNR) MA
Engineer  T/Sgt Howard V. McCalmont, 13038453 (MIA / KIA, BR) PA
Radio  S/Sgt John F. Dowd, 32304354 (MIA / KIA, BR) NJ
Gunner  S/Sgt George J. Smith, 6981162 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Gunner  Sgt Eugene V. Turner, 35329671 (MIA / KIA, BR) OH
Gunner  Sgt John P. Zalic, 13012011 (MIA / KIA, BR) PA
Gunner  Pfc M. D. Turrentine (survived)
Photographer  Cpl Edwin B. McNaughton Jr., 130112491 (MIA / KIA, BR) PA
Photographer  Carl R. Thusgaard, Acme News pictures (MIA / KIA, BNR) Midtjylland, Denmark
Crashed  July 20, 1943
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 1404. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-50-CO Liberator serial number 42-40327. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 90th Bombardment Group, 320th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Virgin III".

Mission History
On July 20, 1943 took off from 5 Mile Drome (Wards) near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt John B. Willcoxon on a bombing mission against the Madang area. Aboard was war correspondent Carl Thusgaard, Acme News pictures.

Returning from the mission, this intercepted by five Ki-61 Tonys from the 68th Sentai (incorrectly reported as "Zeros") near Bena Bena and caused it to explode in mid-air. This B-24 was claimed by the K-61 Tony piloted by Captain Shogo Takeuchi, the first aerial victory of the 68th Sentai in New Guinea. When this aircraft failed to return, the entire crew was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Wreckage
Afterwards, Australian Army soldiers in the vicinity rushed to the crash site and located the bodies of six of the crew, and found Turrentine alive.

Extract from press release:
"After having successfully bombed its objective near Madang, this aircraft was attacked by nine Zeros [sic, Ki-61 Tonys], two of which were shot down and a third probably destroyed. The B-24 then exploded in the air and crashed in full view of Australian ground forces. Six of the crew were found dead in the wreckage and one as found alive, having been thrown clear, and four were listed as missing in action."

Recovery of Remains
After the crash, the remains of the crew were recovered with the exception of three crew: Willcoxon, Magness and Adler. All three remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also, the remains of war correspondent Carl Thusgaard were not recovered.

Wreckage
US Army CILHI reports the wreckage as near Taru, Keefu, Okapa Valley at 2,000'.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. The three missing crew members: Willcoxon, Magness and Adler are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Willcoxon earned the Silver Star, Air Medal, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Arlington National Cemetery at MF, 0, 26-2.

Magness earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Alder earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Zalic earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart, posthumously.

McNaughton earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart, posthumously.

After the recovery of remains, four of the crew are buried at Manila American Cemetery: Magness at plot C row 12 grave 68. Turner at plot A row 12 grave 201. Zalic at plot L row 5 grave 94. McNaughton at plot D row 4 grave 143.

Maher is buried at Laredo City Cemetery in Laredo, TX.

McCalmont is buried at Yuma Cemetery in Yuma, CO.

Dowd is buried at Long Island National Cemetery at section H, site 8933.

Smith has an unknown burial, likely in a private cemetery in the United States.

The graves of Thusgaard and Smith are unknown, presumed to be in private cemeteries in the United States.

In October 1943 the U.S. Maritime Commission announced that Carl Thusgaard is one of ten U. S. correspondents killed during the war that are to have a Liberty shipped named after them. Later that year a Liberty ship built in Maryland, Baltimore, is named SS Carl Thusgaard.

Display
A single M1911 .45 pistol was recovered from the crash site is displayed at the J. K. McCarthy Museum.

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24D-50-CO Liberator 42-40327
"40327 condemned missing enemy action Jul 23, 1943"
News "Lost in the Pacific - Idlewild News Cameraman Missing As Japs Shoot Down Big Bomber"
Newseum - Carl Thusgaad (photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 42-40327
The Jolly Rogers (1997) by Wiley O. Woods, Jr. pages 94, 196
Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937 - 1945 (1998) by Henry Sakaida page 62
PNG Museum Site survey report by Charlie Wintawa November 27, 1995
"In January of 1995, Mr Denny Tomani of Keefu Village near Okapa, Eastern Highlands Province reported to the Modern History Department the wreckage of an aircraft shot down during the Second World War.
According to Mr. Tomani and Keefu villagers, the aircraft with 8 crew members or passengers which include a female crashed in the night when it came in very low with fire coming from the plane. A loud explosion was heard when the plane crashed and the fire which was so bright that it could be seen by many people who lived around Okapa Valley. The villagers descended on the wreckage the next day. They found bodies near the wreckage and buried them. Following the report from Mr. Tomani, J. K. McCarthy Museum in Goroka conducted an investigation into the report and confirmed the existence of the wreckage.
At their confirmation report of the wreckage, Senior Technical Officer of Modern History Department, teamed up with Mr. Chris Issac of J. K. McCarthy Museum in Goroka and conducted a site survey on the wreckage.
To brief the acting curator on the information collected from site survey of a reported aircraft wreckage of Second World War near Okapa, Eastern Highlands Province.
Date of Survey 16th - 25th June, 1995.
Nearest City/Town/Village: Okapa. Mr. Denny Tomani, P. O. Box 1333, Goroka Eastern Highlands Province.
General Description of Site: The site is on the spur of a main ridge on moderate slope in open virgin jungle. The ground is loan with some surface rock. Nearest water is approximately 20 minutes on foot. Remains located, Nil. However, bodies were said to be collected by villagers and buried on site. Location of grave site is marked by 'Target Plant'. Security Assessment Location and position held confidential by landowner. The site will only be shown to authorized personnel. Hazardous Conditions No heavy ordinance seen. Significant quantity of 0.50mm cartridges scattered on impact site. Recommendations for further search and recovery Serial?number obtained from a badly smashed tail section does not match any in museum's record. Further contact with U.S. Army CILHI for further information produced the same answer. CILHI does not have the serial number on their data base. Recent contact with CILHI regarding the serial number suggested that the wreckage should be re-investigated for its assembly number (manufacturer's number) for identification purposes."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John B. Willcoxon
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Thomas M. Magness
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Irving Adler
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John P. Zalic
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Edwin B McNaughton, Jr
ANC Explorer John B. Willcoxon
FindAGrave - 1Lt John Barr Willcoxon (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1LT John Barr Willcoxon (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Thomas M Magness (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - George T Maher (grave photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Irving Adler (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Howard V. McCalmont (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - John F Dowd (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Eugene V. Turner (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - John P. Zalic (photo, Manila American Cemetery)
FindAGrave - Corp Edwin B McNaughton, Jr (Manila American Cemetery)
FindAGrave - Carl Rasmus Thusgaard (photo, news article)

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Last Updated
October 24, 2019

 

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