Pacific Wrecks
Pacific Wrecks    
  Missing In Action (MIA) Prisoners Of War (POW) Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)  
Chronology Locations Aircraft Ships Submit Info How You Can Help Donate
 
  B-24J-50-CO "Heaven Can Wait Don Ameche" Serial Number 42-73496  
USAAF
7th AF
11th BG
98th BS

Click For Enlargement
98th BS 1944

Click For Enlargement
98th BS 1944

Pilot  1st Lt. Arthur W. Suojanen, O-799498 (MIA / KIA) CT
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Anthony F. Eckhart, O-803954 (MIA / KIA) PA
Navigator  2nd Lt. William S. Bowman, O-671270 (MIA / KIA) Missouri
Bombardier  Captain Howard M Bazemore, Jr., O-661581 (MIA / KIA) AL
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Emil A. Nummi, O-679644 (MIA / KIA) MN
Engineer  T/Sgt. Harry O. Shean, 35303430 (MIA / KIA) OH
Asst Engineer  S/Sgt. Alex H. Ballard, 34430329 (MIA / KIA) NC
Radio  T/Sgt James Paul, 32447984 (MIA / KIA) NY
Asst Radio  Sgt. William T. Atchley, Jr., 38166968 (MIA / KIA) Sofia, NM
Gunner  S/Sgt. Donald H. Beebe, 32674376 (MIA / KIA) NY
Gunner  S/Sgt. Robert Merunka, 32516563 (MIA / KIA) NY
MIA  May 4, 1944
MACR  4622

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 3066. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-50-CO Liberator serial number 42-73496. This bomber was sponsored by actor Don Ameche and nicknamed "Heaven Can Wait Don Ameche" after the Hollywood movie Heaven Can Wait (1943) he stared.

On the right side of the nose was the nickname "Heaven Can Wait" (in quotes) on a curve with "Don Ameche" with the nose art of woman with her legs crossed wearing a black top and high heels. Above was stenciled the last three digits of the serial number "496" in yellow.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 7th Air Force, 11th Bombardment Group, 98th Bombardment Squadron. When lost, engines R-1830-65 serial numbers 42-42757, 42-62319, BP-427844, 42-58823. Weapon serial numbers not listed.

Mission History
On May 4, 1944 took off from Eniwetok Airfield piloted by 1st Lt. Arthur W. Suojanen on a bombing mission against Ponape. Aboard was Captain Bazemore was the lead bombardier for the 98th Bombardment Squadron for one year prior. Due to electrical problems the aircraft was delayed on take off for approximately two hours and was never heard from again. When this bomber failed to return, the entire crew was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Search
A search effort, conducted by squadron commander Major Allen Wood commenced the next day, and all flight in that area were alerted to be on the lookout for the missing crew. On May 5, 1944, four B-24s from the 11th BG, 98th BS searched for this bomber in a sector 120 miles wide between Ponape and Eniwetok. They saw a Mae West life vest and oar at 8 12' N163 0' E at 5:00am, otherwise found nothing. The next day, four B-24s again searched a 60 mile area along the same route, coming within 30 miles of Ponape. They found nothing aside from a bleached out, empty life raft at 8 23' N, 151 3' E at 7:00am.

Several days later, the regular Radio Tokyo broadcast in English (Tokyo Rose) stated that a B-24 was shot down by anti-aircraft fire over Ponape. This was the only B-24 that did not return from the mission and was the only B-24 lost during this period.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead on February 9, 1946. All are memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing. Suojanen on court 5. Eckhart, Bowman, Bazemore, Nummi, Shean, Ballard, Paul, Atchley, Beebe and Merunka on court 7.

Suojanen earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Eckhart earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Bowman earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at plot 1GA, grave 686.

Bazemore earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker Oak Hill Cemetery in Talladega, AL.

Nummi earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Shean earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Ballard earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Paul earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Atchley earned the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Beebe earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Merunka earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Long Island National Cemetery at section MA site 82.

Relatives
Richard Bazemore (nephew of Howard M Bazemore Jr.)
"My uncle was bombardier / observer on bombing run over Ponape, May 4, 1944. Took off from Eniwetok late from rest of squadron, never seen or heard from again. English news Broadcast several nights later, out of Tokyo, mentioned B-24 shot down on this date. It was daylight bombing mission. Just wondering if there could be eyewitnesses that might remember, what happen, since they would have flown over target, alone after the other group had left."

Sandie Miller (niece of Anthony F. Eckhart)
"Any information at all would greatly be appreciated. I am also keeping in touch with Richard Bazemore, the Bombardier’s nephew. We are both trying to obtain information and/or pictures. We would like to do a tribute to our Uncles. I for one would love to visit the area the plane went down maybe just perhaps drop a wreath or do something to honor him. He is my idol and hero I will most likely be the last person in the family to search for him and I would like to leave a legacy to my children of how proud they should be of their second uncle.

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24J-50-CO Liberator 42-73496
"73496 (11th BG) lost May 4, 1944, Central Pacific. MACR 4622"
Missing Air Crew Report 4622 (MACR 4622)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Arthur W. Suojanen
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Anthony F. Eckhart
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William S. Bowman
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Howard M. Bazemore Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Emil A. Nummi
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harry O. Shean
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Alex H. Ballard
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James Paul
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William T. Atchley, Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Donald H. Beebe
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert Merunka
FindAGrave - 1Lt Arthur W Suojanen (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Anthony F “Tony” Eckhart (photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt William S Bowman (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - William S Bowman (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Capt Howard M Bazemore, Jr (photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Howard M. Bazemore Jr. (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Emil A. Nummi (photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Harry O Shean (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Alex H. Ballard (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt James Paul (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt William T Atchley, Jr (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT William Thomas Atchley, Jr (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Donald H Beebe (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Robert Merunka (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Robert Merunka (memorial marker photo)
Thanks to Richard Bazemore and Sandie Miller for information

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
October 15, 2018

 

Tech Information
B-24

MIA
MIA
11 Missing
  Discussion Forum Daily Updates Reviews Museums Interviews & Oral Histories  
 
Pacific Wrecks Inc. All rights reserved.
Donate Now Facebook Twitter YouTube Google Plus Instagram