|Pilot 1st Lt William C. Mackey, O-439668 (MIA / KIA) Troy, NY
Co-Pilot 2/Lt James W. McCann, O-742753 (MIA / KIA) Oakland, CA
Turret Gunner S/Sgt Harold J. Corbridge, 16051472 (MIA / KIA) Decatur, IL
Waist Gunner Sgt Thomas E. Priddy, 35208711 (MIA / KIA) Kanawha Falls, WV
MIA November 2, 1943 at 1:53pm
Built by North American in Inglewood, California. Constructors Number 82-5633. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25C Mitchell serial number 41-12998.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 8th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Tugboat Annie". When lost, engines R-2600-13 serial numbers 41-30593 and 41-39851. Weapon serial numbers noted in Missing Air Crew Report 1633 (MACR 1633).
On November 2, 1943 took off from Horanda Drome near Dobodura piloted by 1st Lt William C. Mackey on a bombing mission against Rabaul.
Over the target, this B-25 was flying in the no. 2 position in the element and attacked enemy ships in Simpson Harbor. Hit by enemy gun fire, the right engine caught fire as this B-25 flew low over the water. Other bombers in the formation observed to pull up to 75' to 100' then nosed downward in an apparent attempt to ditch, impacting into the Blanche Bay north of Kokopo. Accounts from observers in other B-25s on the mission provide slightly conflicting accounts of the crash.
F/O Hobart R. Rankin via MACR 1633 page 17
"I first noticed a B-25 on our left as we were passing over Raluana Point and it was afire, the flame coming from the right engine. It was one of our ships but I could not distinguish the letter on the tail. The ship leveled off about ten feet off the water as though an attempt at a crash landing was to be made, then it pulled up to about one hundred fee, apparently still under control. Again it started down as if to level off but the right wing dipped suddenly and the plane plunged into the water about a thirty degree dive. The plane completely disintegrated as it struck the water. No fire was observed on the water after the crash which occurred northwest of Rapopo, about three quarters of a mile off shore and about three miles northwest."
F/O Abraham E. Shook via MACR 1633 page 18
"When I first noticed the plane, it was coming out of Simpson Harbor and the right engine nacelle was streaming fire. It was low on the water and then pulled up to approximately seventy-five to a hundred feet, then started down as though an attempt was to be made at crash landing. The right wing seemed to drop slightly and it went into the water. It cart wheeled and disintegrated and then I lost sight of it."
SSgt Merle A. Kasiah via MACR 1633 page 19
"Lieut. Mackey's plane, right engine on fire, made a good crash water landing near the beach, about west of the Beehives, on the west shore of Simpson Harbor. It scooted along the surface. I did not see the hatch cover come off nor anyone get out, but it had not sunk when it got beyond my view."
SSgt Verlon E. Woodard via MACR 1633 page 20
"Lieut. Mackey's plane, #2 of our element, on fire, flying out of the mouth of Simpson Harbor, continued to fly several miles down the coast towards Rapopo and make a perfect water landing several hundred yards off shore. I had a clear view of it and it did not dive into the water, as previously stated, but the tail did break off in the landing. I saw the pilot's hatch open but did not see anyone get out."
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Mackey also has a memorial marker at Saint Mary's Cemetery Troy, NY.
Mackey earned the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, posthumously.
McCann earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart posthumously.
Corbridge earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal and Purple Heart posthumously.
Priddy earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Purple Heart posthumously.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records -
William C. Mackey
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Harold J. Corbridge
World War II Army Enlistment Records - Thomas E. Priddy
USAF Serial Number Search Results -
B-25C Mitchell 41-12998
"12998 (3rd BG, 8th BS, "Tugboat Annie") shot down at Rabaul, New Guinea Nov 2, 1943. MACR 1633"
Missing Air Crew Report 1633 (MACR 1633)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William C. Mackey
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James W. McCann, Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harold J. Corbridge
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Thomas E. Priddy
FindAGrave - 1LT William C Mackey (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Lieut William C. Mackey (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt James W McCann, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Harold J Corbridge (tablets of the missing)
SGT Thomas Edward Priddy (photo, tablets of the missing)
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February 13, 2018