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  B-24J-180-CO Liberator Serial Number 44-40831  
USAAF
14th AF
308th BG
375th BS

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c1944
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CILHI 1997

Pilot  2nd Lt. George H. Pierpont, O-802781 (MIA / KIA) Salem, VA
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Franklin A. Tomenendale, O-802956 (MIA / KIA) Shabbona, IL
Navigator  2nd Lt. Robert Deming, O-741781 (MIA / KIA) Seattle, WA
Bombardier  2nd Lt. George A. Ward, O-688567 (MIA / KIA) Jersey City, NJ
Engineer  Staff Sgt. Anthony W. De Lucia, 6949724 (MIA / KIA) Bradford, PA
Radio  Sgt. Ellsworth V. Kelley, 35404515 (MIA / KIA) Newark, OH
Radar  Pvt. Fred P. Buckley, 17175674 (MIA / KIA) Garden City, KS
Gunner  S/Sgt William A. Drager, 32303245 (MIA / KIA) Washington, NJ
Gunner  Sgt Robert L. Kearsey, 13011330 (MIA / KIA) McKees Rocks, PA
Gunner  Pvt Vincent J. Netherwood, 12155792 (MIA / KIA) Kingston, NY

Crashed  August 31, 1944
MACR  8020

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 4767. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-180-CO Liberator serial number 44-40831.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 14th Air Force, 308th Bombardment Group, 375th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. Engine and weapon serial numbers listed in Missing Air Crew Report 8020 (MACR 8020).

Mission History
On August 31, 1944 took off at 4:30pm from Liuchow Airfield in China on a mission to bomb enemy ships in Takao Harbor off Takao (Kaohsiung) on Formosa (Taiwan). Over the target area, intercepted by A6M Zeros including pilot Takeo Tanimizu who claimed B-24J 44-40783 shot down and badly damaged this bomber.

On its return flight, this B-24 diverted to an alternate airfield because Liuchow Airfield was under air attack. On its way to the alternate airfield, this bomber crashed into Mount Arisan at 6,000' then tumbled into a deep ravine. When this aircraft failed to return, the entire crew was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Wreckage
On October 2, 1996 two Chinese farmers discovered the crash site roughly 62 miles south of Gualin, Guangxi Province on Mount Maoer. During November 1996, People's Republic of China President Jiang Zemin turned over photographs of the dog tags, as well as a videotape of the crash site to American authorities. Dog tags were located belonging to five of the crew including: Buckley, Kelley, Netherwood, Tomenendale and Ward.

Recovery of Remains
After the Chinese report, at least three visits were made to the crash site by teams from US Army CILHI. Multiple visits were required due to the difficult location and steep terrain. The first was in January 1997, the second was during 1998 and a third was during 1999. The team confirmed the aircraft as "40783" (U. S. Army Air Force serial number 44-4083).

The recovery teams located human remains plus additional dog tags, four engines, six machine guns, bullets, eight pistols, five coins, a pocket watch and a flashlight. Afterwards, the recovered remains underwent forensic testing including DNA testing by US Army CILHI in Hawaii. During 2000, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced the identification of each crew member.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead on March 20, 1946 and earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

On August 21, 2000 the remains of the crew were buried in a group burial at Arlington National Cemetery at section 60, site 7927 (Netherwood, Kearsey, Drager, Buckley, Kelley, Deming, Tomenendale, Pierpont), 7928 (Pierpont), 7929 (Deming) 7930 (Tomenendale) 7931 (Ward), 7932 (Kelley).

After the recovery of remains between 1997-1999, a memorial plaque was placed at the crash site summarizing the mission and the efforts of the Chinese farmer who reported the site and listing the names of each member of the crew.

Four of the crew also have a memorial marker placed in their hometowns:
Netherwood also has a memorial marker at St. Mary's Cemetery in Kingston, NY.
Kearsey also has a memorial marker at Greenlawn Cemetery.
Drager also has a memorial marker at Pleasant Grove Cemetery.
DeLucia also has a memorial marker at St. Bernard Cemetery.

Relatives
Elmer De Lucia (brother of Anthony W. De Lucia)
Betty Drager (sister of William A. Drager)

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results B-24J-180-CO Liberator 44-40831
"40831 (308th BG, 375th BS) lost in China Aug 31, 1944 on mission to Taiwan. MACR 8020. Crew remains recovered and interred in Arlington Aug 2000."
Missing Air Crew Report 8020 (MACR 8020)
Report of Investigation Division, Legal Section GHQ, SCAP "Unknown X-848 identified as Merlin PADDOCK. Prosecution Division advises that prosecution action is to be taken in the case. Case closed." October 26, 1948
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George H. Pierpont
"remains were recovered and interred at Arlington National Cemetery"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Franklin A. Tomenendale
"remains were recovered and interred at Arlington National Cemetery"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert L. Deming
"remains were recovered and interred at Arlington National Cemetery"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George A. Ward
"remains were recovered and interred at Arlington National Cemetery"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Anthony W. De Lucia
"remains were recovered and interred at Arlington National Cemetery"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ellsworth V. Kelley
"remains were recovered and interred at Arlington National Cemetery"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Fred P. Buckley
"remains were recovered and interred at Arlington National Cemetery"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William A. Drager
"remains were recovered and interred at Arlington National Cemetery"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert L. Kearsey
"remains were recovered and interred at Arlington National Cemetery"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Vincent J. Netherwood
"remains were recovered and interred at Arlington National Cemetery"
CILHI Interview with Major Irwin duration: 4:22 [Quicktime Audio]
ABC News 20/20 "Final Journey Home" August 8, 1999 [transcript]
Army Link News "WWII Army air crew laid to rest" August 23, 2000
Takeo Tanimizu - Japanese Fighter Pilot

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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