373rd BS c1944
373rd BS c1944
|Pilot 2nd Lt. Glenn A. McConnell, O-742447 (POW, survived) Hollywood, CA
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Samuel Auslander, O-801541 (MIA / KIA, BR) Bronx , NY
Navigator 1st Lt. Robert Carney, O-674146 (MIA / KIA) Union, NY
Bombardier 1st Lt. Robert E. Moessner, O-669371 (MIA / KIA, BR) Scranton, PA
Radio T/Sgt Robert Berman, 32419229 (MIA / KIA) Brooklyn, NY
Engineer T/Sgt Peter S. Maholick, 33345196 (MIA / KIA, BR) Summit Hill, PA
Asst Engineer S/Sgt Barton W. Owens, 14121573 (MIA / KIA) Kik Valley, CA
Asst Radio Sgt Tony M. Spadafora, 39829751 (POW, survived) Helper, UT
Gunner S/Sgt Carl W. Holley, 34155217 (MIA / KIA) Hammond, LA
Gunner S/Sgt John K. Orovecz, 12132278 (MIA / KIA, BR) Salt Lake City, UT
Radar 2nd Lt. John V. Mroz, 0856776 (MIA / KIA) Salem, MA
Asst. Radar S/Sgt Erwin H. Posner, 12049208 (MIA / KIA) Oceanside, NJ
Crashed April 18, 1944
Built by Consolidated in San Diego. Constructors Number 1699. Delivered to the U. S. Army on April 10, 1943 as B-24D-80-CO Liberator serial number 42-40622. On April 15, 1943 at Tucson, AZ. On May 3, 1943 to Davis-Montham then to Topeak, Kansas. On May 6, 1943 to Memphis, TN. On May 9, 1943 to Morrison and the next day to Morris. On May 11, 1943 to DAUB. This B-24 had ASV radar installed. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 14th Air Force, 308th Bombardment Group, 373rd Bombardment Squadron "Flying Tigers" with a shark mouth on the left and right sides of the nose. Nicknamed "Sweepy-Time"
Gal [quotes around "Sweepy-Time"] in white on the right side of the nose. When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial numbers 42-63003, 42-62851, 42-62842 and 42-62874. Weapon serial numbers are not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 9126 (MACR 9126).
On April 18, 1944 took off from Kweilin Airfield in China on mission No. 93 a sea search anti-shipping sea sweep off Hong Kong. Over the target, intercepted by Japanese Zeros from the 254 Kokutai. This B-24 was damaged by 20mm fire around the no. 3 and no. 4 engines and in the left wing. Burning, the bomber ditched into the Pearl River. Eight of the crew were killed in the crash. When this B-24 failed to return, it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
The next day, Japanese radio reported a heavy bomber shot down near Hong Kong. This B-24 ditched into shallow water and the nose was crushed and the fuselage broken near the waist. The rest of the B-24 was largely intact. Afterwards, the bomber was salvaged by the Japanese and photographed on the dock at Hong Kong. The wreckage was also photographed as a montage and studied as the basis of an intelligence report.
Fates of the Crew
Four of the crew survived and began swimming towards the shore. The attacking fighters strafed them, killing two in the Pearl River. Afterwards, their bodies were found by Chinese farmers and buried.
Two of the crew: McConnell and Spadafora were captured by the Japanese and became Prisoners Of War (POW) and were transported to Japan. McConnell was detained at Ofuna Camp. He survived captivity and was liberated at the end of the war. Spadafora was detained at Iwate to the north of Tokyo. He survived captivity and was liberated from Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku) at the end of the Pacific War and returned to the United States.
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, the remains of three of the crew: Orvecz, Maholick, and Auslander were recovered and transported to the United States for burial.
An unknown American, X-File X-345 was buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). The family of crew member Mroz provided evidence these remains were from this crew and were exhumed in August 2005. These remains were identified as 1st Lt. Robert Ernest Moessner using circumstantial evidence and mDNA from a maternal family member. The Department of Defense (DoD) reported him as accounted for on November 17. 2016.
Nine of the crew Auslander, Carney, Moessner, Maholick,
Holley, Orovecz, Mroz and Posner were killed in the crash were officially declared dead the day of the mission. Berman was officially declared dead on October 18, 1944.
Seven of the crew Carney, Moessner, Owens, Holley, Berman, Mroz and Posner are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Owens also has a memorial marker at Stanfield Cemetery in Stanfield, TN.
Holley also has a memorial marker at Greenlawn Cemetery in Hammon, LA at section 7, 11A.
Two of the crew are buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). Maholick at plot C, site 1546. Orovecz is buried at plot P, site 393.
Auslander is buried at Mount Judah Cemetery in Ridgewood, NY.
McConnell continued flying B-29s, B-47s, and B-52s in Strategic Air Command (SAC) and served in Korean and Vietnam. He retired as a Colonel and died October 15, 2008. McConnell is buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 64, site 5254.
Spadafora returned to his hometown in Utah and died on March 17, 1986. He is buried at Elgin Cemetery in Elgin, UT.
Moessner will be buried on April 5, 2017 at Arlington National Cemetery.
Sally Hill Jones (niece of Carl Holley)
"Two additional crew members were found after the war, buried by some Chinese farmers in the Hong Kong area. One was identified as Orovecz, who is buried in the Punchbowl. The other was not able to be identified and was buried in the Punchbowl as an unknown. In the last few years, the family of crew member Mroz investigated and found the unknown was one of the 'Sweepy Time Gal' crew. The military disinterred the remains for comparison to family members' DNA in August 2005, but a chemical used to preserve the remains has blocked DNA extraction to date. The military has officially recognized as being one of the 7 MIAs from this plane. Although DNA tests have been done to determine his identity, a preservative chemical used on the remains thus far prevents reading the DNA, and so identification is not possible at this time through DNA. But perhaps if this information is put out there, some other means of identifying the remains would emerge."
Louis C. Mroz (brother of John Mroz)
Paul Dabrowski (nephew of John Mroz)
Missing Air Crew Report 9126 (MACR 9126)
Kodochosho, 254 Kōkūtai, April 18, 1944
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Tony M. Spadafora
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert Carney
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert E. Moessner
"The remains of 1st Lt. Moessner have been recovered and identified. His name is permanently inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert Berman
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Barton W. Owens
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Carl W. Holley
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John V. Mroz
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Erwin H. Posner
FindAGrave - Col Glenn Alexander McConnell (photos, grave photo)
FindAGrave - 1LT Samuel Auslander (photo, Mount Judah Cemetery)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert Carney (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert Ernest Moessner (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1LT Robert Ernest Moessner (photo, Arlington grave)
FindAGrave - TSgt Robert Berman (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - TSGT Peter S Maholick (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Barton Warren Owens (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Barton W. Owens (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Tony M. Spadafora (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Carl W. Holley (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Carl W Holley (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - John Orovecz (grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt John V Mroz (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Erwin H Posner (photo, tablets of the missing)
Air Force Magazine "Valor: Four-Engine Fighter Pilot" by John L. Frisbee June 1995 (via Wayback Machine)
Chennault's Forgotten Warriors: The Saga of the 308th Bomb Group in China pages 212-223
My Brother John - The Story of my brother, 2nd Lt. John V. Mroz by Louis C. Mroz
Stars & Stripes "Another family joins lawsuit against JPAC for recovery of remains from WWII"
Dec 22, 2014
DPAA Recently Accounted-For Archive 2016
- Robert E. Moessner Accounted For 11/17/2016
DPAA "Soldier Missing From World War II Accounted For (Moessner)" News Release 17-015 March 29, 2017
Thanks to Sally Hill Jones, Carroll V. Glines, Robert Livingston and Minoru Kamada for additional information
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May 22, 2017