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  B-25D "Battlin' Biffy" Serial Number 41-29701  
USAAF
5th AF
38th BG
71st BS

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38th BG c1942

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Dan Gillan 2007

Pilot  1st Lt. Terrence J. Carey, O-433651 (POW, KIA executed) Fargo, ND
Co-Pilot
 2nd Lt. Lauren S. Meader, O-725629 (MIA / KIA) CA
Navigator
 2nd Lt. Philip E. Germain, O-437349 (MIA / KIA) Wallingford, CT
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Kenneth M. Caisse, O-659517 (MIA / KIA) Portland, OR
Radio-Gunner
 Sgt Paul D. McElroy, 14036314 (MIA / KIA) GA
Gunner  Pfc Richard J. Conlon, 37081314 (MIA / KIA) ND
Photographer
 S/Sgt John A. Pagliuso, 6976910 405th BS (MIA / KIA) NY

Crashed  October 5, 1942 at 8:00am
MARC  15077

Aircraft History
Built by North American. Constructors Number 87-7862. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 38th Bombardment Group, 71st Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Battlin' Biffy" with the nose art of Walt Disney's Big Bad Wolf's head inside a white circle.

On September 5, 1942 took off from Horn Island Airfield on a flight to 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby to stage for a bombing mission against Buna. After landing at 7 Mile Drome, this B-25 experienced engine trouble before take off and was grounded.

Mission History
On October 5, 1942 took off from 14-Mile Drome (Schwimmer) near Port Moresby at 7:00am armed with 500 lb. bombs along with B-25C "Tokyo Sleeper" 41-12905. Their mission was to fly a patrol to the north coast of New Guinea from Cape Waria to Oro Bay. Afterwards, the pair were to strafe and bomb the track and bridge at Wairopi and afterwards drop medical supplies to Australian troops near Sangai. The pair was to be escorted by P-39 Airacobras, but they never materialized.

Outbound, the bombers reached the north coast of New Guinea and patrolled the sea off Buna and spotted smoke from two Japanese destroyers escorting a large transport, Yamaura Maru. After radioing the convoy's location, both bombers attacked.

Unseen were eighteen A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kokutai and 3rd Kokutai were providing top cover for the convoy. This B-25 attempted to make a bomb run from 4,000' but was intercepted by six Zeros that began making firing passes from the rear. Last seen in a steep dive trying to escape. It is unknown if it released any bombs. They were never seen again and failed to return to base. The entire crew was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

In fact, this bomber reached land and crash near Uhita to the west of Popondetta. The Japanese Zeros c0laimed one B-25 shot down (this aircraft) during the mission.

Fates of the Crew
Two of the crew survived the crash or managed to bail out. Both were executed by the Japanese or New Guinea natives.

One of the survivors, believed to be Carey was led to Higaturu, and beheaded by the Japanese or a New Guinea native named Parere. His remains were buried in a shallow grave.

The captured Japanese diary of Kurazo Uchida from the Japanese Army, 15th Pioneers noted in his diary on October 5, 1942 that a twin enemy aircraft was "shot down 1,000 meters from our work area. Only one body [was found] others seem to be in the ground". Eight machine guns were recovered from the crash.

After the Allies reoccupied the area, natives told the Australian authorities they visited the aircraft wreckage and found two of the crew alive. Parere was apprehended, tried and executed by the Australian administration for the crime of murder.

Recovery of Remains
After the Allied occupation of the area the wreckage of a burned out Allied plane (probably American) was discovered near the village of Soroputa (sic, Soputa?).

An isolated shallow grave was found containing a headless skeleton "in the vicinity of Soroputa" no personal belongings were found with the remains. Nearby, but not associated with the grave was Lt. Carey's officer identification bracelet. These remains were disinterred and designated unknown X-133 and temporarily in the USAF Cemetery Finschafen No. 2 (Finschafen Cemetery) at grave 3492. Although the remains were believed to be Lt. Carey, but were apparently lost by the US Army or accidentally buried as an unknown, as he is still listed as Missing In Action (MIA) today.

The fates of the remainder of the crew has never been determined. On June 29, 1949 they were officially declared non-recoverable. All are still listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Memorials
Carey was officially declared dead on September 12, 1944. The remainder of the crew were officially declared dead on December 12, 1945. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Caisse has a memorial marker at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, OR at Section MA Site 48.
Conlon has a memorial marker at North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan, ND at Section B Site 141
Germain has a memorial marker at Arlington National Cemetery placed on May 23, 2014 at section K grave 313.

Wreckage
Today, this B-25 crash site is located on the south side of the road near Uhita in the vicinity of Awala off the Kokoda Road.

This aircraft wreck was investigated by the US Army after the occupation of the area, and noted as "the wreckage of a burned out Allied plane (probably American) was discovered near the village of Soroputa" (sic, Soputa?). At the time, natives claimed two parachutes were still in the trees, but could not be located. They also claimed two of the crew were found alive and one (Carey) was taken alive to Higaturu and never seen again.

During April 1986, David Pennefather visited this crash site and noted the tail number ending in '701', who reported the wreck to Bruce Hoy, PNG Museum who relayed the discovery to US Army CILHI via a letter.

On December 15, 1986 the crash site was surveyed by US Army CILHI representatives: Sgt Nash and Sgt Baughman. They were shown the wreckage and told of a burial site. The report concluded, "It is suggested that the recommendation of Mr Hoy to consider the crash site as a war grave continue until further research and documentation can be obtained from the Casualty Data Section, USA CILHI."

During early November 2007, the wreckage was rediscovered by Paul Ekman and Daniel Gillan and identified by the tail serial number ending in '701'.

Daniel Gillan adds:
"During our visit to Awala. (My old house was the site owned by Clen Searle and used by the Army as a base during WWII) where I grew up in the 1980’s we were told of a plane wreck not far from where I was staying. As I find WWII wrecks rather interesting I asked for a look. The land belongs to a friend of mine and so of course was not a problem. The wreck was half an hour walk in from the road at Soputa. It appears that the plane has come in from Buna direction and slammed into the side of a small hill. My friends have a garden there and as they have been turning the soil have uncovered many pieces of wreckage. The two engines, tail rudder and one wing are the largest pieces above ground. It appears that the plane has exploded on impact and strewn wreckage within reasonably a small area. We were unable to find the fuselage, however the land owner advised us that it is buried in the soft ground."

On November 13, 2007 Cyclone Guba made landfall in Oro Province causing torrential rains and flooding. Afterwards, most of the wreckage was covered by landslides and sediment. Likely, the site will be uncovered in the future due to erosion.

During July 2010 a team from JPAC landed nearby by helicopter and performed an investigation at the crash site including the use of a metal detector.

Caisse Dog Tag
During the 2000's, the dog tag of crew member 2nd Lt. Kenneth M. Caisse, O-659517 was found the Munda area. It is unclear how or why this dog tag ended up in this location. Possibly, it was carried there by an American service personnel during the war and accidentally dropped.

Shane Elliott adds:
"I was given the Caisse dog tag off Brian Daga of Dive Munda, his father John Vikili had found the dog tag in the Munda area some years ago. In early 2010 I returned the dog tag to Lt. Caisse relations in the United States. I was told by his nephew his birthday was Dec. 7th."

Relatives
Kenneth J. Carey (brother Terrence J. Carey)

Paul Terence Carey (nephew of Terrence J. Carey)
"Terence John Carey was my fathers brother. You have provided more information on his destiny than we have seen, ever."

Diana Lufbery Stickle (niece of 2nd Lt. Philip E. Germain)
Robert Stickle adds (nephew-in-law of 2nd Lt. Philip E. Germain)
"His sister, Marie Germain and my wife provided a DNA Family Reference Sample to JPAC. Philip and his wife, Julia (nee Kavanaugh) Germain were only married for only about six weeks before he went missing in action. Afterwards, Julia never remarried until her later years, but never had any children. She died in 1986.

My late wife's uncle, Ist Lt Philip E. Germain, who's B-25 plane was shot down in the Pacific on October 5,1942 will bcome "One of The Chosen One's" on May 23,2014 at 1:00pm. Although his remains were never recovered, he is going to receive a full military memorial service and a memorial grave marker in Arlington. If Phil had lived he would have been 97 this July. Diana had this as one of the last things she wanted to complete on her bucket list. As time ran out on her, I got it done for her this month. It only took 72 years to get 1ST Lt Philip E. Germain the recognition he deserves. "

References
Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - B-25C Mitchell Serial Number 41-29701
Missing Air Crew Report 15077 (MACR 15077) created retroactively circa 1945 or 1946
Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) 2nd Lt. Philip E. Germain
"Lieut. Germain, Army Aviator, Listed Missing - Won Honors Here As An Athlete In High School"
"Borough Flier Reported As Missing In Action - Lt. Philip . Germain"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Terrence J. Carey
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lauren S. Meader
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Philip E. Germain
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Kenneth M. Caisse
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Paul D. McElroy
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Richard J. Conlon
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John A. Pagliuso
National World War II Memorial - Registry: Philip E. Germain
Bruce Hoy Diary Entries related to B-25D 41-29701
FindAGrave - 1Lt Terrence J Carey (tablets of the missing photos)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Lauren S Meader (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Philip E Germain (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Kenneth M Caisse (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Kenneth M Caisse (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Sgt Paul D McElroy (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Paul Davis McElroy (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - PFC Richard J Conlon (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Richard J Conlon (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - SSgt John A Pagliuso (tablets of the missing)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25D Mitchell 41-29701
Sun Setters of the Southwest Pacific Area pages 71, 77-79 research by Edward Rogers, AII-3, AIII-4
Eagles of the Southern Sky page 269-270 (photo)
YouTube "1st LT Philip E. Germain - Arlington Ceremony" video by Robert Stickle, May 23, 2014
Thanks to Edward Rogers, Daniel Gillan, Paul Ekman, Wally McCollum, Robert Stickle, Shane Elliott and Larry Hickey for additional information.

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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