|Pilot 1st Lt. Kenneth M. Greear, O-735374 (MIA / KIA) IL
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Francis W. Kniest, O-739969 (MIA / KIA) MO
Navigator 2nd Lt. Frank Maleckas, Jr., O-792456 (survived) Niagara Falls, NY
Bombardier 1st Lt. Paul A. Kish, O-734927 (MIA / KIA) IN
Engineer TSgt Edmund H. Cooler, 37268708 (MIA / KIA) MN
Assistant Engineer SSgt Claude L. Gentry, 34257558 (MIA / KIA) NC
Radio TSgt Eugene G. Stone, 38122678 (MIA / KIA) TX
Assistant Radio SSgt James E. Murphy, 32466744 (MIA / KIA) NJ
Gunner SSgt Charles T. Shannon, 11053771 (MIA / KIA) MA
Gunner SSgt Mathew Sech, 35320359 (MIA / KIA) OH
Observer Bombardier 2nd Lt. Joe G. Goodhue, O-729482 (MIA / KIA) OK
Crashed October 25, 1943 at 12:19pm
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 1941. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-105-CO Liberator serial number 42-40864. Ferried overseas to the South Pacific.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 307th Bombardment Group, 372nd Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial numbers 42-61234, 42-61372, 42-61567 and 42-59317. Weapon serial numbers not noted in Missing Air Crew Report 1014 (MACR 1014).
On October 25, 1943 took off from Carney Field (Bomber 2) on Guadalcanal on a bombing mission against Kara on southern Bougainville. Weather was overcast at 19,000' with clouds at 17,000' with .7 cloud coverage.
Flying in clouds for a prolonged period, this B-24 suffered a structural failure due to violent maneuvers to avoid a collision with other bombers in the formation. Last seen at 12:19pm over the Solomon Sea to the north of Choiseul Island at roughly Lat 7° 12' S Long 157° 25' E.
Several of the crew were thought to have bailed out successfully and their parachutes deployed. At least one of the crew, navigator Maleckas landed safely before the bomber crashed into the sea. When this bomber failed to return the entire crew was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
After the collision, B-24D Liberator piloted by 1st Lt. Emilio P. Ratti descended to 1,000' to search for parachutes observed an oil slick in the ocean and circled it five or six times at an altitude of 100' and spotted two life rafts in the sea, one partially inflated and four oxygen bottles and observed the bomber had crashed fifteen minutes prior.
Flying downwind from the crash where the parachutes might have landed, one of his crew spotted a man in the sea (Maleckas) clinging to an oxygen bottle. This B-24 overflew him and dropped him a life raft into rough seas. The survivor swam to it, but located one of the other life rafts already floating nearby. Ratti's bomber continued to circle him until low on fuel and reported via radio a message coded in the clear to request a rescue plane to the area.
Fate of the Crew
Navigator Maleckas bailed out from the bomber before it crashed and landed safely into the sea and successfully deployed his life raft. After spending a day and a night in his raft and a day swimming to Choiseul Island. Ashore, he spent two days alone traveling before natives located him and took him to their village where he remained for five days. Afterwards, taken to the coastwatcher on Choiseul until rescued by seaplane and returned to Tulagi Seaplane Base. Maleckas returned to duty on November 29, 1943.
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. The missing crew members all earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. Greear, Kish, Gentry, Stone, Murphy, Shannon and earned the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. Kniest and Goodhue earned the Air Medal.
Sech also has a memorial marker at Arlington National Cemetery at memorial section I, site 116.
Goodhue also has a memorial marker at Versailles Cemetery in Versailles, MO at plot Oak Park, E 15.
World War II Army Enlistment Records - Kenneth M. Greear
World War II Army Enlistment Records - Francis W. Kniest
World War II Army Enlistment Records - Frank Maleckas
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24D 42-40864
"40864 (307th BG) lost Oct 25, 1943, Solomons. MACR 1014"
Missing Air Crew Report 1014 (MACR 1014)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Kenneth M. Greear
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Francis W. Kniest
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Paul A. Kish
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Edmund H. Cooler
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Claude L. Gentry
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Eugene G. Stone
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James E. Murphy
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles T. Shannon
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Mathew Sech
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joe G. Goodhue
FindAGrave - 1Lt Kenneth M Greear (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Francis W Kniest (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Frank Maleckas, Jr
"In 1941, responding to Uncle Sam's draft call, he became a member of the 128th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Division, Company M of the U.S. Army National Guard with an original service commitment of one year. After the attack on Pearl Harbor he transferred to the Army Air Corps, received a commission as a Second Lieutenant, and became a navigator on a B24 bomber with the 13th Air Force in the South Pacific.
During Frank's career as a navigator he was a member of four crews and the sole survivor of two bomber crashes. One of Frank's proudest achievements was his completion of "One 11 Millionth of a War" where he recounts his experiences which included his 45 hours in the Pacific Ocean and the six weeks prior to his rescue living with the natives on the island of Choiseul."
FindAGrave - 1Lt Paul A Kish (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Edmund H Cooler (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSGT Claude L Gentry (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Eugene G Stone (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt James E Murphy (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Charles T Shannon (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Mathew Sech (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Mathew Sech (Arlington National Cemetery - date of death incorrectly listed as October 25, 1945)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Joe G Goodhue (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Joe Glenn Goodhue (memorial marker photo)
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February 18, 2019