|Pilot Captain Edwin J. York, O-21151 (interned, RTD) Batavia, New York
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Robert G. Emmens, O-24104 (interned, RTD) Medford, OR
Navigator-Bombardier Lt. Nolan A. Herndon, O-419328 89 RS (interned, RTD) Greenville, TX
Engineer S/Sgt Theodore H. Laban, 6559855 (interned, RTD) Kenosha, WI
Gunner Sgt David W. Pohl, 6152141 (interned, RTD) Boston, MA
Landed April 18, 1942 "Doolittle Raid"
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) B-25B Mitchell serial number 40-2242.
Assigned to the 12th Air Force, 17th Bombardment Group, 95th Bombardment Squadron.
Nose number 3. No known nickname or nose art. One of sixteen B-25's assigned to the "Doolittle Raid".
On April 18, 1942 took off from the USS Hornet at 8:46 as as aircraft number eight as part of the "Doolittle Raid". Aboard was a mixed crew from the 37th Bombardment Squadron and the 89th Reconnaissance Squadron. Just prior to take off, the top turret of this bomber failed and was inoperative during the entire flight. Also, the aircraft was experiencing engine problems.
This B-25 lead the third flight over southern Tokyo and northern Tokyo Bay, dropping three demolition bombs and one incendiary bomb over the target.
Following the mission, pilot York realized he did not have enough fuel to reach China and elected to land at 5:45 pm at Primorskrai Airfield (Primiori) near Vladivostok. After landing, Soviet forces confiscated the aircraft and the crew were interned.
Fates of the Crew
The crew overnighted at the airfield and were briefly interviewed by Col. Kovalev, the base commander. The next morning, they were flown aboard a Russian Li-2 ( license-built DC-3) to Khabarovsk Airfield roughly 400 miles north of Vladivostok, where they were held for ten days and met General Stearn, Soviet Far Eastern Army Commander.
Next, the crew was escorted by a Soviet officer aboard a train to Penza (roughly 350 miles southeast of Moscow) where they were held for two and a half months and were visited by U.S. Military Attache, Colonel Joe Michela who reported their health and condition to U.S. authorities.
On March 25, 1943, the crew was transported from Okhansk (Оха́нск) to Ashkabad (Ashgabat, Turkmenistan) near border with Persia (Iran).
On May 29, 1942 the crew bribed a smuggler, who helped them to cross the border and arrived at Mashhad (Mashhadi) in Persia (Iran). In fact, their "escape" was staged by the NKVD, since the Soviet Union was unable to legally repatriate the crew due to their neutrality pact with Japan. The crew reached the British Consulate in Tehran then were returned to the United States.
After landing, the B-25 was immediately impounded by the Soviet forces. The B-25 was photographed and heavily re-touched photos were published. Reportedly, this aircraft was scrapped during the 1950s.
York died August 31, 1984. He is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery section 1 grave 1220.
Emmens died April 02, 1992. He is buried at Eastwood IOOF Cemetery at block 206 lot 2 space 3. Herndon died October 7, 2007 He is buried at Travis Park Cemetery in Saluda, SC. Laban died September 16, 1978. He is buried at Highland Cemetery at Lot 93 Grave 7. Pohl died February 18, 1999. He was Cremated and his ashes scattered over the Pacific Ocean.
Published accounts often incorrectly state this B-25 landed "forty miles north of Vladivostok"
General Doolittle's Report on Japanese Raid April 18, 1942
Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence "Interview with B-25 crew that bombed Tokyo and was interned by the Russians" June 3, 1943 [York debriefing]
Guest of the Kremlin by Robert Emmons
Doolittle Raider 80 Brave Men
List of Americans, British, and French military personnel detained by organs of the Ministry of State Security [B-25 piloted by York]
FindAGrave - Robert G. Emmens (grave photo, photos)
FindAGrave - Nolan A Herndon (grave photo, photos)
FindAGrave - Theodore H Laban (grave photo, photos)
FindAGrave - David W Pohl (photo)
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February 4, 2018