January 12, 1945
|Pilot 1st Lt. Robert E. Churgin, O-818830 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. John M. Carmody Jr., O-821960 (MIA / KIA) Chicago, IL
Navigator 2nd Lt. Saul Furman, O-712548 (MIA / KIA) Boston, MA
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Ronald W. Wilkin, O-708979 (MIA / KIA) Elgin, IL
Engineer TSgt Charles E. Cytlak, 36723193 (MIA / KIA) Joliet, IL
Radio TSgt John Perla, 12083902 (MIA / KIA) Brooklyn, NY
Gunner SSgt Theodore Jolley, 33609981 (MIA / KIA) Courtdale, PA
Gunner SSGT Albert D. Jones, 32998519 (MIA / KIA) Port Jervis, NY
Gunner Pfc Raymond L. Peterson, 37684786 (MIA / KIA) Rockwell, IA
Photographer Sgt Clifford A. Lask, 35285884 (MIA / KIA) Lakewood, OH
MIA January 12, 1945
Built by Consolidated. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-25-CO Liberator serial number 42-73249. Ferried overseas to China.
Assigned to the 14th Air Force, 308th Bombardment Group, 374th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Shootin' Star" with the nose art of a woman in a star and a shark mouth, identical on both sides of the nose. When lost, engines R-1830-65 and R-1830-43 serial numbers BP-426496, 42-366679, 42-40273 and BP-425359.
On January 12, 1945 took off from Luliang Airfield in China on a long range reconnaissance mission over the South China Sea and Indochina coast. There was no further contact with this bomber after take off. When this B-24 failed to return it was declared Missing In Action (MIA). In fact, this B-24 was shot down by friendly fire.
At 6:40pm a combat air patrol (CAP) of three F4U-1D Corsairs from VMF-124 piloted by Captain E. P. Hartsock, 1st Lt. G. B. Parker and 2nd Lt. H. L. Libbey from USS Essex CV-9 were vectored against an enemy bogey. There was a heavy overcast at about 7,500' and this bomber was flying at 9,500' flying straight and level over Camranh (Cam Ranh) near the Indochina coast near Phan Rang.
The bogie was identified as a four engined bomber with twin tails, but no markings were visible. The three Corsiars climbed to 1,500' above and closed in but were furiously fired on by the bomber's waist gunners. Captain Harsock pressed his "C" channel button, but received no radio message, and continued to receive defensive fire and opted to dive away into the overcast.
Due to the defensive fire, Captain Harsock decided to attack the bogey, incorectly believing it was a Japanese H8K2 Emily flying boat, with Captain Hartsock and 1st Lt. Parker making an overhead pass and claiming hits that caused smoke. Next, 2nd Lt. Herbert L. Libbey made a firing pass from a high angle on the port side, hitting the inboard engine and inboard wing section, setting it on fire and caused to disappear into the overcast and was claimed as an aerial victory.
Returning from the mission, the Corsairs reported the action and began to doubt the bomber they intercepted was a Japanese four engined flying boat and expressed doubts that the bogey could have been a PB4Y Liberator (US Navy version of the B-24 Liberator). The Corsair pilots stated they were fired on, did not observe any markings and withheld their fire for as long as possible before intercepting. Tragically, Captain Hartsock's gun camera footage unmistakably identified the bogey as a Liberator.
The entire crew was officially declared dead January 13, 1946. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Lask also has a memorial marker at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, OH at section M, plot 84.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24J-25-CO Liberator 42-73249
"73249 (308th BG) lost Mar 12, 1945. MACR 11163"
Missing Air Crew Report 11163 (MACR 11163)
NARA War Diary Marine Fighting Squadron Two Thirteen Marine Fighting Squadron One Twenty Four 1-31 January 1945, page 3
"12. [January 1945] While on a combat air patrol, Captain Hartsock's division shot down a four-motored unidentified bomber which had no markings and refused to respond to recognition or friendly signals, and which fired on them. See ACA-1 Report No 2."
After Action Report VMF-124 pages 1-6, report no. 8 ACA-1
[page 4] XII: Tactical and Operational Data... On return to base, they immediately reported their actions in full; could not verify it as an [H8K2] 'Emily' from photographs of this plane, and expressed doubts as its being a PB4Y, although admitting that consideration of this possibility had withheld thier fire forsome time in face of heavy fire from the bomber, while the CAP tried to find some markings or contact.
Gun camera films (see attached) developed from Capt. Hartsock's plane identify the plane as a PB4Y [sic B-24J 42-73249], but show no markings
on wings or fuselage that are noticeable in the prints."
[Page 6] "Gun camera pictures of B-24 shot down January by ESSEX CAP over Camranh Bay, F.I.C. [French Indo China]"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
Robert E. Churgin
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John M. Carmody Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Saul Furman
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ronald W. Wilkin
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles E. Cytlak
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John Perla
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Theodore Jolley
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Albert D. Jones
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Raymond L. Peterson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Sgt Clifford A. Lask
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert E Churgin (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt John M Carmody, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Saul Furman (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Ronald W Wilkin (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - TSgt Charles E Cytlak (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - TSgt John Perla (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Theodore Jolley (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Albert D Jones (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - PFC Raymond L Peterson (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Clifford A Lask (memorial marker)
Thanks to Minoru Kamada for additional information
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August 10, 2019