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  B-25D "The Early Bird" Serial Number 41-29698  
5th AF
3rd BG
90th BS

Pilot  Capt. William R. "Red” Johnson, O-422025, 3rd BG, 90th BS (KIA, BR) CA
Crew Chief  T/SGT. Archibald B. Gibson, 6971481, 3rd BG, 90th BS (KIA, BR)
Passenger  1st Lt. Malcolm E. Petersen, 0397451, 347th TCG, 22nd (KIA, BR) CA
Passenger  Captain John R. Linn, O-315444?, 347th TCG, 22nd TCS (KIA, BR) Columbus, OH
Passenger  Captain Stephen Penler, O-321823 CML. SEC, HQ USASOS (KIA, BR) MA
Passenger  Captain Robert M. Faris, 0295946 CML SEC, 5th AF (KIA, BR) NY
Passenger  Pvt Andrew Lelik, Jr., 12029966, 3rd BG, 90th BS (KIA, BR) NY

Crashed  December 31, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by North American in Inglewood, California. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 90th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "The Early Bird".

Mission History
On December 31, 1942 took off from Charters Towers Airfield on a flight bound for Garbutt Field near Townsville. Pilot Johnson intended to pickup some of his friends and fly them back for a New Years Eve party planned in the newly completed Officers’ Club at Charters Towers Airfield. During the return trip, this B-25 encountered bad weather and crashed in the Hervey Mountain Range about 20 miles southwest of Townsville. The bomber crashed into a mountainside, killing the entire crew on impact.

On January 3, 1942 the crash site was located. The crash was found scattered over a mountainside on January 3rd but there were no survivors.

The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, the crew was buried at the U. S. War Cemetery in Townsville. Postwar, they were exhumed and transported to the United States for permanent burial.

Two are buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). Petersen at plot C, row 0, grave 1223. Lelik at plot A, grave 646.

Johnson is buried at Lodi Memorial Cemetery in Lodi, CA.
Faris is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Upper Alton, IL at section 8.
Gibson's burial is unknown, but presumed to be in a private cemetery in his hometown.

Note, other sources state this B-25 was nicknamed "The Bird Dog".
Pvt Coen, 90th BS intelligence section was listed as aboard this flight, but apparently did not board the aircraft.
FindAGrave - William R Johnson (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Malcolm F Petersen (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Capt John Robert Linn (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Capt Stephen Penler (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Robert M. Faris (grave photo)
FiindAGrave - Pvt Andrew Lelik, Jr (grave photo)
Oz@War - Crash of a B-25D Mitchell between Townsville and Charters Towers on 31 December 1942
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis.

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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