JPAC November 2008
|Pilot 1st Lt. William A. Swanson, O-728935 (MIA / KIA) Proctor, VT
Co-Pilot F/O Sheldon L. Chambers, T-000291 (MIA / KIA) Altoona, PA
Navigator 1st Lt. Irwin G. "Zipper" Zaetz, O-791661 (MIA / KIA) Burlington, VT
Bombardier 1st Lt. Robert E. Oxford, O-663308 (MIA / KIA, BR) Concord, GA
Engineer SSgt Charles D. Ginn, 15084114 (MIA / KIA) Crete, IL
Radio SSgt Harry B. Queen, 11021096 (MIA / KIA) Onset, MA
Gunner Sgt James A. Hinson, 14188472 (MIA / KIA) Greensboro, NC
Gunner Sgt Alfred H. Gerrans, Jr., 34315848 (MIA / KIA) Kinston, NC
Crashed January 25, 1944
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-30-CO Liberator serial number 42-73308. Ferried overseas to India.
Assigned to the 14th Air Force, 308th Bombardment Group, 425th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Hot As Hell" with a seated woman on the right side of the nose. This B-24 flew more than 14 combat missions and claimed four fighters. When lost, engines R-1830 serial numbers 42-5252, 42-5408, 42-5488, 42-5150.
On January 25, 1944 took off from Kunming Airfield in China on a routine flight to Chabua Airfield in India. When this B-24 failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). In fact, this bomber crashed near Damrah, Arunchal Pradesh State, India. Also lost is B-24J "Haley's Comet" 42-73242 (MIA).
On December 7, 2006 this crash site was visited by Clayon Kuhles / MIA Recoveries.
Clayon Kuhles adds:
"I reached this site on Pearl Harbor Day in 2006, and arranged for guides to take JPAC there this October. My site report and photos of this site can be found on MIA Recoveries, along with letters from many of the family members. One of the family members, Gary Zaetz, had asked to join JPAC on their trek to the site. JPAC refused his request. I then arranged for guides to take Gary to the crash site and conduct a memorial service there prior to the arrival of the JPAC team. We filmed Gary's trek to the site and also filmed the memorial service. One camera was dispatched to film JPAC when they arrived, while the other camera stayed with me. As it turned out, JPAC would not let us film them once they left for the jungle."
This crash site has been visited by the U. S. authorities on at least five separate occasions:
1) In October to November 2008, this crash site was visited by a JPAC team comprised of eight individuals.
2) During early 2009, a team from JPAC mounted a recovery mission at the crash site, but the effort was cut short by a blizzard.
3) During late 2009 another team from JPAC attempted to mount a recovery mission to the site, but the mission was canceled due to political reasons by the Government of India.
4) During early November 2011, the crash site was visited by a JPAC team that excavated the site and performed an archaeological search.
5) During the autumn 2015, a DPAA team visited the crash site and recovered remains of some of the crew. This visit to the crash site was cut short due to political reasons by the Government of India.
Gary Zeatz adds:
"There were four DoD visits to the crash site: 1) a preliminary survey in October 2008, 2) full-scale recovery operations in early 2009 (cut short by a blizzard), 3) late 2009 (cut short by the Government of India for political reasons, and 4) late 2015 (cut short by the Government of India for political reasons). The Government of India refused to permit DoD access to the crash site from 2010 up until late 2015, despite constant pressure by the families of the crew on both the U S and Indian Governments thorough their organization Families and Supporters of America's Arunachal Missing in Action."
Clayon Kuhles adds:
"DPAA is planning to repatriate the crew member remains they recovered in Fall 2015 from B-24J 42-73308 a.k.a. Hot as Hell. It's our understanding that remains of only 1 or 2 of the 8 personnel aboard was recovered by DPAA."
The entire crew was officially declared dead on January 26, 1946. The entire crew is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Zaeta also has a memorial marker at Hebrew Holy Society Cemetery in South Burlington, VT.
Oxford also has a memorial marker at Magnolia Cemetery in Concord, GA.
After the recovery of remains in autumn of 2015, a repatriation ceremony is planned for April 2016 of remains recovered from the site.
During early March 2017, Merrill Roan a family member of Robert Eugene Oxford was contacted by the Department of Defense to told that her relatives remains were
recovered during 2015. Remains recovered from the crash site were identified as Oxford using mtDNA, matching samples provided by his niece and nephew, plus dental records, anthropological analysis and circumstantial evidence. Oxford was officially identified by the DoD on March 6, 2017. He will be buried on June 11, 2017 in his hometown in Concord in Pike County, Georgia.
Merrill Roan (niece of Oxford)
Gary Zaetz (nephew of Irwin Zaetz)
"A Trek to My Uncle’s B-24 Crash site in India – A Memoir by Gary Zaetz December 24, 2008"
Dr. Stephen L. Chambers (relative Chambers)
Ethyle Renee Wolfe (relative)
Frances E. Lenox (relative)
Theopa Christine Owens Sheen (relative)
Forrest T. Riley, Jr. (relative)
James R. Hixon (relative)
Fred Morris Oxford (relative Oxford)
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24J-30-CO Liberator 42-73308
"73308 (425th BS, 308th BG) missing on flight from Kunming, China to Chabua, India Jan 25, 1944. 8 crew presumably killed. Wreckage found near Damrah, Arunchal Pradesh State, India Dec 7, 2006"
Missing Air Crew Report 9943 (MACR 9943)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William A. Swanson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Sheldon L. Chambers
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Irwin Zaetz
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert E. Oxford (recovered)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles D. Ginn
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harry B. Queen
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James A. Hinson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Alfred H. Gerrans Jr.
FindAGrave - Capt William Alvin Swanson (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - FLt O Sheldon Leroy "Shell" Chambers (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Irwin G "Zipper" Zaetz (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
Lieut Irwin G. Zaetz (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - LT Robert Eugene Oxford (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert 'Eugene' Oxford (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Charles David "Buck" Ginn (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Harry Bernard Queen (photos, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt James Alfred Hinson (photo/obituary, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Alfred Howard "Pete" Gerrans, Jr (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
MIA Recoveries - B-24J 42-73308 Expedition Photo Gallery
MIA Recoveries - B-24J 42-73308 Media Coverage
MIA Recoveries - Official Report to JPAC [PDF]
JPAC - Downed Plane in India (photo of engine of B-24J 42-73308)
Frontier India "Hot as Hell, Found in Paradise" December 15, 2007
Frontier India "IAF recce's WWII crashsite of USAF B-24 aircraft Hot as Hell" January 20, 2008
Frontier India "A Trek to My Uncle’s B-24 Crashsite in India – A Memoir" by Gary Zaetz December 24, 2008 (via Wayback January 13, 2010)
DVIDS "DPAA Mission In India" video footage of JPAC team November 5, 2011 visit to crash site
United States - India Monitor "Time to Bring Home America’s Arunachal Missing in Action" by January 21, 2015
Stars and Stripes "One final trip: Remains from 1944 India crash site coming home to US" April 8, 2016
Pike County Times "Lt. Robert "Eugene" Oxford Finally Coming Home" March 6, 2017
DPAA Recently Accounted For 2017 Robert E. Oxford March 6, 2017
Facebook "Soldier Missing From World War II Accounted For (Oxford)" March 27, 2017
DoD DPAA "Georgia Soldier Accounted For From World War II (Robert E. Oxford)" June 2, 2017
Herald-Tribune "WWII veteran's remains return home after missing 74 years" by Jonathan Landrum Jr June 8, 2017
AJC "After 73 years, Georgian who died in WWII comes home" by Joshua Sharpe June 8, 2017
Daily Mail "WWII veteran's remains return home after missing 74 years" June 8, 2017
CCTV 4 [中国新闻]“驼峰航线”战士73年后魂归故里 (Hump Line Warrior 73 years after the soul of the hometown)
Thanks to Clayon Kuhles and Gary Zaetz for additional information
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August 10, 2019