|Pilot 2nd Lt. Thomas D. Harmon, O-732545 (survived) Rensselaer, IN
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Fredrick O. Wieting, O-734289 (MIA / KIA) Lansing, MI
Navigator 2nd Lt. Edwin J. Wolf, O-793106 (KIA, BR) Philadelphia, PA
Engineer SSgt James F. Goodwin, 7002699 (KIA, BR) Texarkana, TX
Radio SSgt Bernard R. Coss, 16097769 (KIA, BR) Mendota, IL
Gunner SSgt Leonard D. Gunnells, 14332550 (KIA, BR) Deatsville, AL
Crashed April 9, 1943 at 10:30am
Built by North American. Constructors Number 87-8129. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25D-5 Mitchell serial number 41-29964.
Assigned to the 12th Air Force, 17th Bombardment Group, 95th Bombardment Squadron based at Greenville Airfield. Nicknamed "Little Butch" in honor of Thomas D. Harmon with the nose art of a cartoon figure wearing a football uniform number "98" (Old 98) Harmon's number on the University of Michigan football team, the "Michigan Wolverines".
On April 9, 1943 took off from Atkinson Field in French Guiana (Guyana) piloted by 2nd Lt. Thomas D. Harmon on a ferry flight to Belem Airfield (Belém) in Brazil. Weather was overcast with cumulus cloud base from 800' to 12,000' with moderate to severe turbulence and rain, necessitating instrument flying. Two hours into the flight, the cylinder head temperature began to drop, possibly due to ice inside the carburetor. Pilot Harmon began to descend in a spiral to the left, when the right engine cut out, causing the bomber to go into a unrecoverable spin to the right.
Harmon managed to bail out of the cockpit escape hatch and landed unhurt. The rest of the crew failed to exit the bomber and died in the crash approximately five miles southwest of Caux (Kaw), French Guiana (Guyana).
Fates of the Crew
Four days later, Harmon reached a clearing in the jungle and was later rescued and returned to duty.
When reported missing, this aircraft was the subject of an extensive search.
The crew with the exception of Harmon were killed in the crash and officially declared dead the day of the mission.
Wieting remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA). He is memorialized on the East Coast Memorial on the tablets of the missing in New York, NY.
The remains of the four crew members killed in the crash were recovered. The crew are buried at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in a group burial at section E graves 25-26.
Surviving pilot 2nd Lt. Thomas D. Harmon was later assigned to the 51st Fighter Group, 449th Fighter Squadron in China. On October 30, 1943 he bailed out of P-38G Lightning 42-13415 and was aided by Chinese Communist and returned to duty. Harmon passed away on March 17, 1990 in Los Angeles, CA and was cremated.
L. Scott Wieting (grandson of Fredrick O. Wieting)
"Thank you very much for your reply...It means so much to know that there are other folks that are doing so much to keep our POWs & MIAs memory alive... It's been 75 years since my grandma, who passed away in 1978, lost her beloved husband, whom never met his unborn son (my Dad, who just turned 75 on July 21st)."
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Thomas D. Harmon
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Fredrick O. Wieting
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Edwin J. Wolf
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Leonard D. Gunnells
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25D-5 Mitchell 41-29964
Newspaper article "Sgt Bernard Coss - Lieut. Tom Harmon and Crew" incorrectly lists date of loss as April 8, 1943
News "Local man may have been with Harmon on plane
Missing Air Crew Report 1054 (MARC 1054) pages 6-7, associated with P-38G Lightning 42-13415
FindAGrave - Tom Harmon (photos)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Fredrick O. Wieting
2LT Fredrick O Wieting (east coast memorial photo)
Service Personnel Not Recovered Following WWII for the United States Army Air Forces - Fredrick O. Wieting
FindAGrave - Edwin J Wolf (news, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - James F Goodwin (news, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Bernard R. Coss (photos, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Leonard D Gunnells (news, group burial photo)
Pilots Also Pray by Thomas D. Harmon
Thanks to L. Scott Wieting for additional information
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August 10, 2019