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  B-24J-50-CO "Heaven Can Wait" Serial Number 42-73496  
USAAF
7th AF
11th BG
98th BS

Click For Enlargement
Circa 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  2nd Lt. Emil A. Nummi, O-679644 (MIA / KIA) MN
Bombardier Captain Howard M Bazemore, Jr., O-661581 (MIA / KIA) AL
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) 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
This B-24 was sponsored by Actor Don Ameche and nicknamed "Heaven Can Wait" after his Hollywood movie Heaven Can Wait released in 1943. When lost, engines R-1830-65 serial numbers 42-42757, 42-62319, BP-427844, 42-58823. Weapon serial numbers not listed.

Crew History
Captain Bazemore was Lead Bombardier for the 98th BS, for a period of one year.

Mission History
On May 4, 1944 took off from Eniwetok Airfield on a bombing mission against Ponape. 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 over Ponape by anti-aircraft fire. This was the only B-24 that did not return. This was the only B-24 loss during that period.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead on February 9, 1946. All are memorialized at the courts of the missing at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). Suojanen on court 5. Eckhart on court 7.

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
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) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
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
January 5, 2018

 

Tech Information
B-24

MIA
MIA
11 Missing

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