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  F-7B Liberator Serial Number 44-40961  
USAAF
5th AF
6th PRG
20th CMS

Pilot  2nd Lt Francis N. Riley, O-814974 (MIA / KIA) Newton, MA
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt Charles E. Steinsberger, O-705086 (MIA / KIA) Vincennes, IN
Navigator  2nd Lt Howard Flagg, Jr., O-712784 (MIA / KIA) Kansas City, MO
Engineer  S/Sgt Ralph O. Schadewald, 35313687 (MIA / KIA) Cleveland, OH
Radio  S/Sgt Casimir W. Szczawinski, 36565517 (MIA / KIA) Hamtramck, MI
Photographer  Cpl Clement A. McHale, 32486144 (MIA / KIA) New Field, NJ
Gunner  Sgt James A. Seeley, 34507907 (MIA / KIA) Jackson, TN
Gunner  Sgt William Sheyon, 32820253 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY
Gunner  Sgt Joseph F. Phillips, 18150266 (MIA / KIA) New Orleans, LA
Gunner  Sgt Marvin H. Normington, 33623221 (MIA / KIA) Lehigh County, PA
Gunner  T/Sgt Julian C. Langdon, 6389675 (MIA / KIA) Thomasville, GA
MIA  January 11, 1945 at 9:35am
MACR  11773

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 4897. On June 8, 1944 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-190-CO Liberator serial number 44-40961. On June 10, 1944 flown to Tucson, AZ. On June 14, 1944 flown to Tinker Field. On June 16, 1944 flown to St. Paul, MN to Northwest Airlines (NWA) for modification into F-7B photographic reconnaissance version.

On August 30, 1944 flown to Hunter Field. On September 12, 1944 flown to Fairfield Field. Assigned Project Number 96673-R. On September 15, 1944 departed overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) arriving by September 23, 1944.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group (6th PRG), 20th Combat Mapping Squadron (20th CMS) "Flying Dumbos". No known nickname or nose art. This aircraft flew at least 50 combat missions.

On October 24, 1944 took off from Pitu Airfield on Morotai piloted by Lt. Richard Tubbs on Mission 298Z-3 to southern Luzon with F-7B 44-40199 and F-7B 44-40602 but experienced bad weather. South of Mindoro, the other two aircraft spotted a Japanese Naval force enroute towards Leyte but cloud cover prevented the aircraft from completing their assigned mission. Returning, they spotted more ships to the west of Negros and dropped down below the clouds to photograph the force.

When lost, engines R-1830-65A serial numbers BP-440066, PB-440592, BP-456736 and BP-440633. Armed with .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers listed in MACR 11773.

Mission History
On January 11, 1945 at 6:20am took off from Pitu Airfield on Morotai piloted by 2nd Lt Francis N. Riley as one of three aircraft on a led by 1st Lt. Theodore G. Olsen on a mission over southeast Luzon. The weather was heavy alto-stratus layer at flight altitude with continuous rain and occasional moderate to severe turbulence. Vertical visibility nil with horizontal visibility estimated at less than 1-4 miles.

Flying northward, the weather was poor from 7:15am until 9:30am. At 9:31am radioed to abort the mission and return to Morotai and the formation estimated they were north of Polloc Harbor bordering Illana Bay on the western coast of Mindanao. At 9:35am, a radio call to this aircraft received no reply and repeated calls were made without an answer. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead on January 12, 1946. Each crew member earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Normington also has a memorial marker at Arlington National Cemetery at section MH site 381.

References
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Francis N. Riley

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Charles E. Steinsberger
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Howard Flagg, Jr.

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Ralph O. Schadewald
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - James A. Seeley

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - William Sheyon

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Joseph F. Phillips

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Marvin H. Normington
Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - B-24J 44-40961
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24J-5-CO Liberator 44-40961
"40961 converted to F-7B. MIA with 6th PRG Jan 11, 1945, SW Pacific. MACR 11773"
Missing Air Crew Report 11773 (MACR 11773) created January 12, 1945
National Archives Australia (NAA) Missing Liberator 4-40961 incorrectly lists as F7E [sic F-7B] and listed the first crew member as Flagg, which has incorrectly associated him as the pilot in other sources.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Francis N. Riley
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles E. Steinsberger

American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Howard Flagg, Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ralph O. Schadewald
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Casimir W. Szczawinski
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Clement A. McHale
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James A. Seeley
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William Sheyon
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joseph F. Phillips
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Marvin H. Normington
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Juilan C. Langdon
FindAGrave - 2Lt Francis N Riley (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Charles E Steinsberger (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Howard Flagg, Jr (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Ralph O Schadewald (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Casimir W Szczawinski (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Clement A McHale (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt James A Seeley (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt William Sheyon (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Joseph F Phillips (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Marvin H Normington (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SGT Marvin H Normington (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - TSGT Julian C Langdon (tablets of the missing)
Descending To Go Above & Beyond (1998) by by Donna DiMascio and Lt. Col. David W. Ecoff
20th Combat Mapping Squadron via WayBack Machine March 10, 2016
"F-7B 44-40961  Lost on mission. Last heard over Mindanao. Eleven (11) casualties"
Thanks to Robert Livingstone and Pete Johnson for additional information

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Last Updated
August 10, 2019

 

Tech Information
F-7B

Map
Map
Jan 11, 1945

MIA
MIA
11 Missing
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