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  B-24D-53-CO "Big Chief Cockeye" Serial Number 42-40351  
5th AF
380th BG
529th BS

Former Assignments
43rd BG
403rd BS

380th BG c1944

Pilot  F/O Harold A. Thornton, T-223106 (KIA, BR) Southwick, ID
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. William C. Karbach, Jr., O-806457 (KIA, BR) Chicago, IL
Navigator  1st Lt. Douglas G. McMillin, O-389311 (KIA, BR) Rossville, GA
Bombardier  2nd Lt Max Rubin, O-739216 (KIA, BR) Dorchester, MA
Engineer  T/Sgt Richard W. Corbin, 35387868 (KIA, BR) Akron, OH
Radio  S/Sgt Harry H. Reed, 15048811 (KIA, BR) Franklin, KY
Asst Engineer  S/Sgt Peter P. Kosciuszek, 31082095 (POW, executed)
Asst Radio  S/Sgt. J. D. F. Hawthorne, 34354276 (KIA, BR) Black, AL
Gunner  S/Sgt Steve J. Buccia, 35509897 (KIA, BR) New Castle, PA
Photographer  S/Sgt Kenneth H. Thoen, 39839148 (POW, executed) CA
Weather Observer  Cpl Author H. Gill, Jr. 33587829 (POW, died July 5, 1945) Philadelphia, PA

Crashed  July 5, 1944 at 11:00
MACR  6585

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 90th Bombardment Group during April 1943. Next, assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 403rd Bombardment Squadron during July 23, 1943 until November 26, 1943 with Etter as crew chief.

During May 1944, assigned to the 380th Bombardment Group, 529th Bombardment Squadron at Long Airfield. Nicknamed "Big Chief Cockeye" with the nose art of an Indian's head created by a reclining nude woman on the left side of the nose. On the right side of the nose was a scoreboard with bomb markings indicating missions flown and a aircraft silhouette indicating an enemy aircraft claimed as shot down. Assigned to crew chief MSgt Gilbert N. Murdock. This bomber flew a total of eight missions before being lost.

On May 31, 1944 took off from Long Airfield a bombing mission FEN VII-26 against Liang on Ambon.

When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial number 42-40351, 42-86729, 42-36439 and 42-41433. Weapon serial numbers not noted in Missing Air Crew Report 6585 (MACR 6585s).

Mission History
On July 5, 1944 took off from Long Airfield piloted by Thornton on a weather reconnaissance mission FEN VIII-7 over Ceram (Seram). The weather had a ceiling of 1,500' with 6-8/10 cumulus clouds and visibility of 10-15 miles. After making a weather report, no word was received from the bomber again. When this B-24 failed to return, the crew was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

In fact, this B-24 spotted enemy vessels and made a bomb run on the ships. Afterwards, this bomber into a mountain top near Sampala on Ceram at approximately Lat 2° 24' S Long 130 E. Eight of the crew were killed in the crash.

Fates of the Crew
In fact, several of the crew survived the crash. They were later captured by the Japanese and became Prisoners Of War (POW). The prisoners were taken to Ambon and detained at Galala prison. and executed on August 30, 1944 and one executed on August 31, 1944.

Separated from the other prisoners, Gil was transported via Celebes (Sulawesi), Philippines, Formosa (Taiwan) and finally to Japan and imprisoned at Ofuna Camp. During captivity, he was beaten by his guards with bats and sustained internal injuries and was unable to eat and died of starvation and abuse.

After the recovery of remains, the crew were transported to the United States for permanent burial.

The other eight crew members are buried in a group burial at Arlington National Cemetery at section 2, site: E-293 are Buccia, Corbin, Hawthorne, Karbach, McMillin, Reed, Rubin and Thornton.

Two of the crew are buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). Kosciuszek at Plot P Row 0 Grave 1083 and Thoen at Plot Q Row 0 Grave 858.

Missing Air Crew Report 6585 (MACR 6585)
380th BG - B-24D "Big Chief Cockeye" 42-40351
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File Author H Gill Jr
NAA Liberator - Missing U.S Aircraft [Part 4] (NAA: A9845, 292)
"Liberator B24 42-110006 [sic B-24D 42-40351] F/Lt. Belcher reports the following information obtained on interrogation of Japanese war criminals.  Kobayshi reports on interrogation the following:
In the crash at Sampala (a B-24) six or seven of the crew were dead, but four Americans who got ashore were captured and taken to Ambon.  Three were executed at Galala on 30th August 44 and one was executed the following day.  The Japanese officers responsible for ordering the execution were Vice Admiral Yanagato (now dead), Rear Admiral Okado and Captain Kawaraki."
FindAGrave - Harold A Thornton (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 2nd L William C Karbach, Jr. (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Douglas McMillin (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Max Rubin (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Richard W Corbin (news, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Harry H Reed, Jr (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Peter P Kosciuszek (grave photo)
FindAGrave - J D F Hawthorne (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Steven J Buccia (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Kenneth H Thoen (grave photo) date of death listed as August 29, 1944
FindAGrave - Author H Gill, Jr. (photo, grave photo)
Thanks to Larry Hickey / IR&P and Edward Rogers for research and analysis

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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