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  B-24L-5-CO "Royal Flush" Serial Number 44-41465  
USAAF
7th AF
11th BG
26th BS

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26th BS c1944

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26th BS Feb 10, 1945
Pilot  1st Lt Edwin E. Brashear, O-758298 (MIA / KIA) Brownwood, TX
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt Theodore Robinson, O-765320 (MIA / KIA) Dallas, TX
Bombardier  2nd Lt Albert C. Reynolds, O-762869 (MIA / KIA) Danville, IL
Navigator  1st Lt Frank J. Curley, O-707235 (MIA / KIA) Philadelphia, PA
Engineer  TSgt William F. Caldwell, 11094945 (MIA / KIA) Tolland, CT
Asst Engineer  SSgt James T. McGee, 37505526 (MIA / KIA) Paris, MO
Radio  TSgt Vincent Foti, 12134909 (MIA / KIA) Elizabeth NJ
Radar  SSgt Cecil K. Decker, 37703468 (MIA / KIA) Monte Vista, CO
Armor Gunner  SSgt John J. Kerezsi, 06996217 (MIA / KIA) Nanty Glo, PA
Armor Gunner  SSgt Richard E. Chandler, 37562389 (survived) Bemidji, MN
Passenger  Major Robert W. Holland, O-350194 (MIA / KIA) NM
MIA  February 10, 1945
MACR  12052

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated. Constructors Number 5401. This bomber had an unpainted aluminum finish. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24L-5-CO Liberator serial number 44-41465. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field to the Central Pacific.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 7th Air Force (7th AF), 11th Bombardment Group (11th BG), 26th Bombardment Squadron (26th BS). Nicknamed "Royal Flush" with the nose art of an open toilet with a Japanese caricature emerging from the bowl with a hand holding flush hand of cards in poker held by a hand. When lost, engines R-1830-65A serial numbers BP-445402, BP-445351, 42-37904 and BP-445052. Weapon serial numbers noted in the Missing Air Crew Report 12052 (MACR 12052).

Mission History
On February 10, 1945 took off from Guam piloted by 1st Lt Edwin E. Brashear as the lead aircraft on a bombing mission against Okimura on Haha Jima (Mother Island). Over the target at 16,000' while on the bomb run with the bomb bay doors open, hit by anti-aircraft fire that caused the bomb bay fuel tank to catch fire and caused the bomber to nose down momentarily.

Two crew member were observed to have bail out, but only one parachute opened. Another three bailed out and two or three additional parachutes opened. While diving, the B-24's left wing broke off and the bomber disintegrating into pieces before it crashed into the sea roughly one mile east of the center of Haha Jima (other sources list the location as three miles off the southeastern tip of Haha Jima).

Fates of the Crew
SSgt Chandler was one of the crew member who was able to bail out and landed in the sea. The fates or identity of the four crew members that bailed out are unknown. The rest of the crew is presumed to have gone down with the bomber.

Search
Other B-24s in the formation spotted one of the crew members who bailed out in the sea roughly three miles off the southeast of Haha Jima. B-24 piloted by Bettis descended to 200' and dropped two life rafts to the man. Lifeguard Air Sea services and Air Sea Rescue were notified of the crash.

Rescue
Responding to the loss of the bomber, a U. S. Navy (USN) PBY Catalina "Dumbo" arrived at the crash site and rescued SSgt Chandler from the sea roughly three miles off Haha Jima and transported him to Saipan and later he returned to duty.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing
. Brashear and Robinson on court 7.

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

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

Reynolds earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart, posthumously.

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

Caldwell earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker Grove Hill Cemetery in Rockville, CT. He is also memorialized on the The National Iwo Jima Memorial Monument and Park in Newington, CT.

McGee earned the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Walnut Grove Cemetery in Paris, MO.

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

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

Kerezsi earned the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart. He also has a memorial marker at Saint Mary's Cemetery in Nanty Glo, PA.

Holland earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Fairbury Cemetery in Fairbury, NB.

Relative
Bruce Curley (nephew of Frank Curley)

References
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Edwin E. Brashear
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - William F. Caldwell
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Cecil K. Decker
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John J. Kerezsi
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24L-5-CO Liberator 44-41465
"41465 (11th BG) lost Feb 10, 1945, North Pacific. MACR 12052"
Missing Air Crew Report 12052 (MACR 12052)
News "Lt. Edwin Brashear's Plane Sinks Big Japanese Ship in Daring Bonin Islands Raid"
The Evening Bulletin "Capt. Rauch Now Listed As Dead" February 22, 1945 page 14 F also lists 1st Lt Frank J. Curley as Missing In Action (MIA) February 10, 1945
Frank J. Curley, MIA, USAAF In Memoriam by Bruce Curley December 11, 2005
Letter from Harry Gibbons who observed the crash of B-24L 44-41465
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Edwin E. Brashear
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Theodore Robinson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Albert C. Reynolds
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank J. Curley
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William F. Caldwell
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James T. McGee
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Vincent Foti
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Cecil K. Decker
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John J. Kerezsi
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert W. Holland
FindAGrave - Edwin E. Brashear (crew photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Theodore Robinson (crew photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Albert C. Reynolds (crew photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Frank J. Curley (crew photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - William F. Caldwell (crew photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - William F. Caldwell (crew photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - William F. Caldwell (The National Iwo Jima Memorial Monument CT memorial photo)
FindAGrave - James T. McGee (crew photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - James T. McGee (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - TSgt Vincent Foti (crew photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Cecil Keith Decker (crew photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt John J. Kerezsi (crew photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT John J. Kerezsi (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Maj Robert William Holland (crew photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - MAJ Robert William Holland (memorial marker photo) death listed as February 4, 1945 incorrectly
11th Bombardment Group Heavy (H) "The Grey Geese" - Looper/Curley Photos
Thanks to Bruce Curley for additional information

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Last Updated
February 14, 2020

 

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Feb 10, 1945

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