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  B-25C "Algernon IV" Serial Number 41-12485  
USAAF
5th AF
(ADVON)
Advance Echelon
3rd BG
13th BS

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USAAF c1942

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B-25 Down 1998

Pilot  Major 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, 1943
MACR  8648

Aircraft History
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.

Wartime History
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.

Mission History
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).

Search
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.

Wreckage
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.

Memorials
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, grave 260K. Van Dyke also has a memorial marker in Zeeland Cemetery in Zeeland, MI.

Relatives
Alfred Hagen (great-nephew of William Benn):
"[In 1998] 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."

References
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)
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)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell 41-12485
B-25 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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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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