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  B-24J-185-CO Liberator Serial Number 44-40924  
13th AF
5th BG
23rd BS

5th BG c1944

Pilot  2nd Lt. Thomas M. Coberly, O-770950 (MIA / KIA, BR) CA
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Jerome "Jerry" Rosenthal, O-771130 (MIA / KIA) CA
Navigator  2nd Lt. Frederick H. Brennan Jr., 2064512 (MIA / KIA) CA
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Philip R. Corrin, O-776633 (survived)
Engineer  Sgt James F. Knoch, 39410685 (survived)
Asst. Engineer  Cpl Edward J. Haviland, 13141736 (survived)
Radio Operator  Cpl Daniel G. Illerich, 19188369 (survived)
Asst. Radio  Sgt Clarence T. Capin, 15374802
Gunner  Cpl John R. Nelson, 19220892
Gunner  SSgt Francis E. Harrington, 31092660
Photo/Gunner  Sgt Elmer W. Phillips, 38259174 HQ Squadron (MIA / KIA) LA

MIA  November 16, 1944 at 11:35am
MACR  10335

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 4860. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to the Pacific.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 5th Bombardment Group, 23rd Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines R-1830-65A serial numbers BP-443694, BP-443773, BP-443777 and BP-443576. Weapon serial numbers

Mission History
On November 16, 1944 took off from Pitu Airfield (APO 719) on Morotai Island on a bombing mission against Japanese warships near Borneo. Weather was .3 low cumulus inbound to the target with no winds.

Over the target, the navigator Brennan was killed and the pilot Coberly badly injured and later died. Co-pilot Rosenthal was also was mortally wounded but continued to fly onward. After about 20 minutes, Rosenthal told his crew to bail out.

Crew members aboard another B-24 in the formation observed parachutes from this bomber before it crashed around Lat 3° 50' N Long 116° 10'E over northern Borneo. When this B-24 failed to return it was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Fates of the Crew
In fact, seven of the crew landed safely and were hidden for seven months by local people before being rescued seven months later. Knoch and Capin on June 6, 1945. Nelson on June 27, 1945. Corrin, Haviland, Illerich and Harrington on July 1, 1945.

After the recovery of remains, Coberly is buried at Manila American Cemetery at Plot N Row 14 Grave 193. Three of the crew remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA) to this day. All three were officially declared dead on November 16, 1944. All three are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 10335
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Thomas M. Coberly
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Jerome Rosenthal
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frederick H. Brennan Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Elmer W. Phillips
FindAGrave - Sgt Elmer W Phillips, Jr  tablets of the missing
FindAGrave - 2Lt Frederick H Brennan, Jr
FindAGrave - 2Lt Thomas M Coberly
FindAGrave - 2Lt Jerome "Jerry" Rosenthal  photo, crew photo
The Airmen and the Headhunters: A True Story of Lost Soldiers, Heroic Tribesmen and the Unlikeliest Rescue of World War II by Judith M. Heimann
PBS / NOVA "Secrets of Dead" The Airmen and the Headhunters originally aired November 10, 2009
Thanks to Sharon Farley for additional information

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


Tech Information

3 Missing

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