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  B-24D Liberator Serial Number ?  
USAAF
10th AF
7th BG
9th BS

Pilot  1st Lt. Lloyd K. Jensen, O-726248 (POW, survived) CA
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Owen J. Baggett, O-791369 (POW, survived) Graham, TX
Navigator  1st Lt. Max A. Davis, O-660462 (MIA / KIA March 31, 1943) CO
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Bert J. Smith, O-727673 (MIA / KIA March 31, 1943) Millfield, OH
Engineer  TSgt Kenneth E. Schleicher, 12040427 (MIA / KIA March 31, 1943) Bloomfield, NJ
Radio  SSgt Stephen F. Burke, 11021671 (MIA / KIA March 31, 1943) Worcester, MA
Gunner  SSgt Samuel A. Crostic, Jr., 20367261 (POW, survived) VA
Gunner  SSgt Tadix E. Higginbotham, 18044472 (POW, survived) IL
Gunner  SSgt Joseph R. R. Mercier, 6146112 (MIA / KIA March 31, 1943) MA

Crashed  March 31, 1943
MACR  16275

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated in San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army, serial number unknown. Possibly, B-24D "The Captain and the Kids" 41-24213. Ferried overseas to India.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 10th Air Force, 7th Bombardment Group, 9th Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On March 31, 1943 one of six B-24s that took off from Gaya Airfield in India on a bombing mission the Pyinmana Railroad Yards in Mandalay in Burma. Over the target, intercepted by enemy fighters and crashed near Rangoon (Yangoon). When this B-24 failed to return it was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Before reaching the target, the formation was attacked by a Japanese fighters. During the intense air battle that followed, this B-24 was damaged and crashed.

Five of the crew were killed in the bomber or were strafed as they descended in their parachutes. All five are listed as Missing In Action (MIA) including Davis, Smith, Schleicher, Burke and Mercier. It is unclear if Burke was captured or died on March 31, 1943.

Co-pilot Baggett bailed out and while descending in his parachute claimed to shoot down an enemy fighter by shooting his Colt M1911 .45 caliber pistol at the aircraft and "hit the pilot in the head".

Fates of the Crew
On the ground, four of the crew were captured and became a Prisoner Of War (POW): Jensen, Baggett, Burke, Costic and Higginbotham.

Jensen and Baggett were flown in a Japanese bomber to Singapore. Both were detained at Malaya POW Camp Malay 6-104. Baggett was was liberated September 21, 1945. Jensen was liberated on October 2, 1945.

The other three crew members Burke, Costic and Higginbotham were detained at Burma #5 (Moulmein & Rangoon Jail) Burma 16-97. Burke died March 31, 1943. Costic was liberated on May 1, 1945. Higginbotham was liberated on May 2, 1945.

Memorials
The five missing crew members: Davis, Smith, Schleicher, Burke and Mercier were officially declared dead the day of the mission. All five are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Higginbotham past away on July 15, 1988. He is buried at Union Cemetery in Bakersfield, CA at block B-69, plot 12.

References
Missing Air Crew Report 16275 (MACR 16275)
NARA World War II Prisoners of the Japanese Data Files - Lloyd K. Jensen
NARA World War II Prisoners of the Japanese Data Files - Owen J. Baggett
NARA World War II Prisoners of the Japanese Data Files - Samuel A. Crostic, Jr.
NARA World War II Prisoners of the Japanese Data Files - Stephen F. Burke
NARA World War II Prisoners of the Japanese Data Files - Samuel A. Crostic, Jr.
NARA World War II Prisoners of the Japanese Data Files - Tadix E. Higginbotham
NARA World War II Prisoners of the Japanese Data Files - Joseph R. R. Mercier
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Max A. Davis
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Bert J. Smith
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Kenneth E. Schleicher
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Stephen F. Burke
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joseph R. R. Mercier
Pictorial History of the 7th Bombardment Group/Wing page 286 (Baggett photo), 287 (Costic photo), 313 (index)
FindAGrave - COL Owen John Baggett (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Bert J Smith (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Kenneth E Schleicher (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Stephen Francis Burke (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Tadix Edward "Red" Higginbotham (grave photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Joseph R R Mercier (tablets of the missing)
Air War For Burma page 77
Thanks to Bob Livingstone for possible serial number

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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B-24

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MIA
MIA
4 Prisoner
5 Missing

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