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  B-24D-20-CF "Louisiana Lullaby" Serial Number 42-63986  
USAAF
5th AF
90th BG
319th BS

Click For Enlargement
USAAF c1944

Pilot  2nd Lt. Leonard J. Hogland, O-753216 (MIA / KIA) Kansas City, MS
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt Harold H. Morton, O-695267 (MIA / KIA) Canon City, CO
Navigator  2nd Lt Alexander Wasilenko, O-698803 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY
Bombardier  2nd Lt Melvin R. Saxon, O-694802 (MIA / KIA) Iron River, MI
Radio  TSgt Jan D. Arnold, Jr., 18188108 (MIA / KIA) Corpus Christi, TX
Engineer  TSgt Harry E. Jones, 14161199 (MIA / KIA) Memphis, TN
Tail Gunner  SSgt Jack W. Spriestersbach, 39200520 (MIA / KIA) Everett, WA
Nose Gunner  SSgt Leslie E. Hoppel, 16162218 (MIA / KIA) Chester, IL
Right Waist Gunner  SSgt Charles A. Derby, 36639151 (MIA / KIA) Chicago, IL
Left Waist Gunner  Sgt Mettle J. Szelag, 11096401 (MIA / KIA) West Warwick, RI

Crashed  June 11, 1944 at 1445
MACR  6584

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated. Assigned to the 90th Bombardment Group, 319th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Louisiana Lullaby". This B-24 flew many combat missions and claimed several Japanese fighters shot down. When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial numbers 42-39579, 42-63874, 42-38806 and 42-38566. Weapon serial numbers noted in MACR.

Mission History
Prior to the mission, this B-24 staged from Nadzab Airfield to Hollandia Airfield. Then, on the morning of June 11th, took off from Hollandia Airfield and flew to Wakde Airfield to re-arm and re-fuel with a maximum load of ammunition (400 rounds) per gun, a bomb load 180 x 30 pound fragmentation bombs and a full load of 3,100 gallons of fuel, took off for a bombing mission against Peleliu Airfield on Peleliu. A total of twenty-two B-24s took off and the formation included four 319th BS B-24 and seven 400th BS B-24s.

About 50 miles from the target, the formation was intercepted by an estimated forty enemy fighters that dropped aerial bombs and making attacks before and during the bomb run, along with accurate anti-aircraft fire.

This B-24 was apparently hit by a fragment of phosperous from a aerial bomb (Navy Mark 3 bomb) that lodged into the right wing, burning out the right aileron, but managed to drop its bombs on the target.

This B-24 appeared to be damaged, but held formation, with a fire that had burned out the right aileron, and forced the no. 4 engine to be feathered, then restarted it and dropped out of formation for 2-3 minutes and was attacked, and the gunners failed to returning fire, possibly because they were wounded or dead during 35 minutes of aerial attacks by fighters.

Although the B-24 but managed to rejoin the formation and appeared the fire were extinguished, it resumed burning and began loosing altitude and ditched into the sea, roughly 80 miles south of Palau.

Two crew were seen in their life raft, and were seen waving. A 400th BS B-24 dropped supplies to them and circled for two hours sending IFF and the men were last seen paddling towards the items dropped. PBY Catalina "Gardinia 1" was notified, but failed to respond.

Search
No PBY Catalina rescue was attempted, because fighter escort was not available. Other B-24s made strikes against the Palau area at that same time but failed to find any trace of them.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead on February 13, 1946. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

References
Legacy of the 90th Bombardment Group, page 120-121

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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