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  B-24D-145-CO "Pistol Packin' Mama" Serial Number 42-41209  
USAAF
5th AF
90th BG
319th BS

Click For Enlargement
90th BG c1943

Click For Enlargement
90th BG Dec 1, 1943

Pilot  1st Lt. Richard A. Adams O-791662 (survived)
Co-Pilot  1st Lt John H. Heathe, O-792591 (slight wounds, survived)
Navigator  1st Lt Glenn E. Nations, O-733457 (slight wounds, survived)
Bombardier  1st Lt Fred H. Blaney, O-372647 (slight wounds, survived)
Engineer  T/Sgt Joseph H. Hatcher, 18063393 (fractured ankle, survived)
Radio  T/Sgt Lawson M. Johnson, 38156098 (slight wounds, survived)
Gunner  S/Sgt William D. Ball, 6877719 (MIA / KIA) NY
Gunner  S/Sgt Lewis B. Butt, 12132516 (MIA / KIA) PA
Gunner  S/Sgt Philip J. LaGarde, Jr., 14053760 (MIA / KIA) LA
Gunner  S/Sgt Mitchell E. Balut, 6896544 (MIA / KIA) PA

Crashed  December 1, 1943
MACR  13824

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

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 90th Bombardment Group, 319th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Pistol Packin' Mama".

Mission History
On December 1, 1943 one of six B-24s that took off from 5 Mile Drome (Wards) near Port Moresby on a bombing mission against Wewak. Over the target, this B-24 encountered intense anti-aircraft fire that disabled the No. 3 engine, but was able to remain in formation. When the lead bomber's bomb site malfunctioned, this B-24's bombardier, 1st Lt. Blaney led the bombing with the rest of the formation dropping on his command.

Immediately after dropping their bombs, "Zeros" attacked (actually Ki-43 Oscars) and the formation encountered more anti-aircraft fire set the No. 4 engine on fire. This blaze was extinguished, and the crew jettisoned everything possible from the damaged bomber.

This B-24 attempted to ditch twenty miles northeast of Finschafen. Another reference states the bomber ditched between Long Island and New Guinea coast and was observed to cartwheel as it hit the water. During the crash, Heathe was knocked unconscious and found floating in the water. Those in the flight deck area survived. The four in the waist and tail died in the crash and their bodies were not recovered. The survivors deployed the two life rafts before the B-24 sank.

A total of three B-24s were lost this mission including this aircraft plus B-24D "Ten Knights in a Bar Room" 42-72806 and B-24D "Lobo" 42-40830.

Rescue
Immediately after the crash, another B-24 in the formation piloted by Robeck witnessed the crash and dropped all the survival gear aboard and circled until they were low on fuel.

The next day, the six survivors were rescued by PT-Boats from Finschafen PT Boat base, escorted by fighters.

Memorials
The four missing crew members were officially declared dead the day of the mission. All four are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Blaney passed away on October 10, 1989. He is buried at Linwood Cemetery in Haverhill, MA.

References
Missing Air Crew Report 13824 (MACR 13824)
Legacy of the 90th Bombardment Group page 89, 91
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William D. Ball
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lewis B. Butt
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Philip J. LaGarde, Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Mitchell E. Balut
FindAGrave - Frederick Harrison "Fred" Blaney (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt William D Ball (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Lewis B Butt (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Philip J Lagarde, Jr (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Mitchell E Balut (tablets of the missing)

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Tech Information
B-24

MIA
MIA
4 Missing

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