|Pilot 1st Lt. John E. Terpning, O-685310 (MIA / KIA / BR) Mount Prospect, IL
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt William R. Parkinson, O-66907 (MIA / KIA / BR) Norfolk, VA
Bombardier 2nd Lt Kermit H. Kinne, O-752337 (MIA / KIA / BR) Barry, IL
Navigator 2nd Lt George S. Silverman, O-688116 (MIA / KIA / BR) Long Island, NY
Engineer TSgt Sidney H. Branch, 13064865 (MIA / KIA / BR) Richmond, VA
Radio SSgt James M. McKain, 33329925 (MIA / KIA / BR) Philadelphia, PA
Gunner SSgt Earl R. Pearson, 33409784 (MIA / KIA / BR) North East, PA
Asst. Engineer SSgt Raymond "Ray" E. Thompson, 19005820 (MIA / KIA / BR) Pendelton, OR
Asst. Radio Sgt Richard F. Dixon, 20135813 (MIA / KIA / BR) New Britain, CT
Gunner Sgt Michael E. Drucker, 12126135 (MIA / KIA / BR) New York, NY
Crashed May 7, 1944
Built by Consolidated at San Diego during March 6-17, 1943. Flown for the first time on March 19. Delivered to the U.S. Army on March 20, 1943. Flown to the Tucson modification center on March 24. Afterwards, flown to Long Beach on April 14 and then to Topeka on April 16 for further modification from April 20-26. On May 1 flown overseas from Hamilton Field via Hickam Field across the Pacific arriving at Amberly Field near Brisbane on May 19.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 380th Bombardment Group, 529th Bombardment Squadron based at Manbullo Airfield. Nicknamed "Toughy". Crew chief was MSgt Bartholemew H. Healy. This bomber's first combat mission was over New Guinea and flew a total of 21 combat missions. White bomb markings were painted below the left cock window indicating missions flown. Assigned to the squadron until December 5, 1943. Modified at the 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field near Townsville replacing the original "green house" nose section with a nose turret.
Afterwards, transferred to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 64th Bombardment Squadron. When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial numbers 42-36761, 42-65349, 42-36900 and 42-65469. Weapon serial numbers noted in Missing Air Crew Report. Officially stricken off charge on May 8, 1944.
The original B-24 assigned to this crew had engine trouble and the crew transfered to a stand-by ship instead that got stuck and was pulled out by a Cletrac tractor.
On May 7, 1944 took off off from Nadzab No. 4 Airfield APO #712, Unit 1 approximately twenty-five minutes late on a bombing mission against Sarmi. As the last bomber to take off, this B-24 attempted to catchup with the formation, but never joined them and was never heard from after take off and failed to return.
After this B-24 was reported as missing, a search mission was flown by two B-24s from Nadzab piloted by Lt. Amick and Lt. Russell over the Ramu Valley to Buria roughly ten miles south of Tadji to Wakde Island and return via the northern coast of New Guinea. Near Manam Island, a yellow life raft with a something partially inside the raft was was spotted by Lt. Amick, who made several passes but was unable to determine what it was and reported the find to the rescue service at Saidor. During the war, no trace of the bomber was found.
During 1973, the wreckage of this bomber was discovered in the mountains at an elevation of roughly 2,000' near Kaiapit, roughly five nautical miles northwest of Nadzab.
Richard Leahy adds:
"I visited this site on Sunday, September 16, 1973 and did not take too many details as it had already been reported to authorities, it was at 2,000'. It was discovered not long prior to my trip in to the site. The entire crew were there at the time of my visit. Amazingly it did not either explode or burn. The troops at Nadzab never found it. I do have a set of his photographs and they are OK but not nearly comprehensive enough. The aircraft was badly bent and the photographs only show instrument panel and under the left wing."
Recovery of Remains
An Australian Army team recovered the remains of the crew and dog tags. Many were still found at their positions. The aircraft was identified by the tail US Army serial number and an identification dataplate. Reportedly, the team detonated the B-24's unexploded bombs on site instead if defusing them. Their detonation futher degraded the crash site.
The recovered remains were transported to the US Army Central Identification Laboratory (CIL) at
Tachikawa then were transported to the United States for permanent burial.
Afterwards, this cash site was visited at least two other occasions by the US Government.
During 2002, the crash site was again investigated by a team from Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC).
During 2008, a JPAC follow up mission conducted a month long investigation and recovery at the crash site recovered additional human remains from the wreckage. These remains were later identified using mDNA
samples from two Thompson's two female cousins. During November 2012, the Department of Defense (DoD) notified Thompson he had been identified.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
On October 18, 1974 after the recovery of remains, the entire crew was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a group burial at section 30 site 486.
After the 2012 individual identification of Thompson, his additional remains will be buried at Olney Cemetery in Pendleton, Oregon on April 10, 2013.
Ed Dixon (nephew of Richard F. Dixon)
Daisy Seaman (sister of Thompson)
Verla Tomlinson (sister of Thompson)
"The Army had declared him dead two years after the crash, but we always had lingering doubts. We weren't sure, but what he was still alive, maybe wandering around not knowing who he was.
We knew he was an airplane mechanic, but he didn't want anyone to know he was flying for fear we would worry. They’ve taken all this time, money and effort to make sure families know what happened."
Although this crew was missing in action (MIA) their names do not appear on the ABMC WWII search, nor the printed cemetery reference book. But, their names are engraved in the tablets of the missing.
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 42-40525
380th Bomb Group - Aircraft Data Sheet B-24D 42-40525 "Toughy"
The Best in the Southwest pages 56, 103
King of the Heavies page 143, 163
Union Bulletin "Seven decades after disappearance, WWII airman to be buried" by Kathy Aney March 16, 2013
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) News Release "WWII Soldier Identified (Terpning)" March 28, 2013
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) News Release "Soldier Missing In Action From WWII Identified (Parkinson)" January 15, 2013
FindAGrave - John E. Terpning (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - Kermit H. Kinne (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave William R. Parkinson (Arlington grave photo)
George S. Silverman (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sidney H. Branch (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - James M. McKain (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - Earl R. Pearson (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - Ray E. Thompson (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - Richard F. Dixon (Arlington grave photo)
Michael E. Drucker (Arlington grave photo)
Thanks to Richard Leahy for additional information
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February 4, 2018