William G. Benn, O-21524 (MIA / KIA)
Co-Pilot Major Donn
C. Young, O-374982 (MIA / KIA) Chicago, IL
Engineer Cpl LaVerne
D. Van Dyke, 36181125 (MIA / KIA) Zeeland, MI
Gunner Sgt Wilfred
D. Coyer, 13033298 (MIA / KIA)
Gunner Sgt Herman
H. Elsner, 16042693 (MIA / KIA)
Gunner SSgt Michael
Ewas, 6914329 (MIA / KIA)
Observer Lt Col. Dan
B. Searcy, O-21689 (MIA / KIA)
Crashed January 18,
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25C Mitchell serial number 41-12485. This B-25 was ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 13th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Algernon IV" in capital letters painted in white on the left side of the nose. The nickname was chosen by regular pilot Captain Ronald Hubbard after his
hot rod car he raced as a teenager. This B-25 was often piloted by Hubbard during 1942 until he became the Commanding Officer (C.O.) of the 3rd Bombardment Group, 90th Bombardment Squadron.
On January 18,
1943 took off from 7-Mile
Drome near Port Moresby at 9:45am piloted by Major
William G. Benn to conduct an aerial reconnaissance over the
north coast of New Guinea coast from Buna to Gona. No reports were ever received
from this aircraft after take-off. When it failed to return it, this B-25 was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
On January 20, 1943,
B-25 Mitchells from the 38th Bombardment Group, 71st Bomb Squadron conducted a search for the missing bomber, but failed to locate it.
During August 1956, the crash site was first discovered by a Patrol Officer (Kiap) from Tapini. Two bodies were recovered from the crash site. That patrol concluded the pilot flew blind into a valley, and crashed into the mountains.
During January 1957, a RAAF Searcher Team led by S/L Keith Rundle investigated the wreckage and was of the opinion that this crash was caused by enemy action (bullet holes and evidence that the port engine was out; prop full feathered and starboard controls to "full rich"). The team recovered six sets of remains. Five were identified and one unidentified.
On February 13, 1957 their investigation was reported to the U. S. Air Attaché, who radioed the Chief of Staff, USAF, stating that the wreckage
had been found at approximately Lat 08.01S Long 146.52E in the upper
Bubu Valley near Mount
Strong and reported that six bodies were recovered along with personal identification discs (dog tags) for five of the crew.
During 1998, Alfred Hagen visited the crash site and removed several
artifacts, including a machine gun, instrument panel and propeller blade
that he took with him back to his home in Philadelphia. Also, the dog tag of Donn C. Young.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains in 1957, the entire crew was buried at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery at plot I, site 260K. Van Dyke also has a memorial marker in Zeeland Cemetery in Zeeland, MI.
Alfred Hagen (great-nephew of William Benn):
I visited the
crash site near the village of Omo."
Andrew Folz (great-grandson of Donn C. Young)
"My great grandfather was Major Donn C. Young, Co-Pilot on the B-25C "Algernon IV" Serial Number 41-12485. I was wondering if you had any more information about him."
Missing Air Crew Report 8648 (MACR 8648)
U. S. Air Attaché "Recovery of Aircraft Wreckage and Human Remains in New Guinea" February 12, 1957
NAA file Ref: 614/1/25 PART 7 initial discovery and RAAF searcher report are in at page 78 (original discovery) and page 48 (RAAF searcher report)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell 41-12485
FindAGrave - William Grover Benn (group burial photo, photo)
FindAGrave - Donn Carlos Young (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Laverne Dirk Van Dyke (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - LaVern Dirk Van Dyke (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Wilfred D Coyer (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Herman Henry Elsner (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Michael Ewas (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Dan B Searcy (group burial photo)
Down Hunt For A Hero re-discovery of the crash site in 1998
Thanks to Larry Hickey, Alfred Hagen and David Forrester for additional information.
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November 14, 2018