|Pilot Captain John M. Manders, O-724790 (MIA / KIA) CA
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Thomas P. Clark, Jr., O-734194 (MIA / KIA) McKinley County,
Navigator 2nd Lt. Stephen P. Toth, O-797098 (MIA / KIA) NY
Radio-Gunner SSgt Fred J. Tencza, 32556490 (MIA / KIA) NJ
Engineer-Gunner SSgt Henry C. Rensick, 39388061 (MIA / KIA) O'Brien County, IA
Gunner SSgt James L. Brown, 18066095 (MIA / KIA) Vernon, TX
MIA January 30, 1944
Built by North American. Constructors Number 87-8759. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25D-20 Mitchell serial number 41-30594. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 345th Bombardment Group, 501st Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Arkansas Traveler".
On November 2, 1943 took off from Port Moresby piloted by Captain Manders a low level mission against Rabaul. Inbound to the target, photographed escorted by Lightnings from the 80th Fighter Squadron including P-38G 42-12705 and P-38H 42-66835. Over the target, Manders observed the crash landing of B-25D 41-30094. Afterwards, a flight of B-25s led by this bomber attempted to provide cover over the ditching site and fought off a group of Zeros attempting to make strafing passes on the downed bomber.
On January 30, 1944 took off from Horanda No. 4 (Dobodura 4) piloted by Captain Manders on a low level strike mission against Japanese shipping in Hansa Bay. Over the target, hit by 75mm anti-aircraft fire from guns commanded by Japanese Army Captain Umanosake Mitatera on shore nearby. Hit, this B-25 explode and crashed into Hansa Bay near a Japanese ship targeted during the attack. Flying on the right wing of this bomber, B-25D "Herky" 41-30069 snapped a photograph moments after this B-25 crashed into Hansa Bay as B-25D-1 "Quitch" 41-30518 scored a hit on a nearby Japanese ship. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Each crew member earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Afterwards, Manders was recommended for the Medal of Honor for allegedly ramming and sinking the Japanese ship, but eyewitnesses on the mission conclusively stated he did not hit the ship, instead this B-25 crashed nearby and his award was downgraded to the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).
Clark also has a memorial marker at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery at plot MD 0 6.
Brown also has a memorial marker at Eastview Memorial Park in Vernon, TX at Block 7 lot 9 space 2.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John M. Manders
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25D Mitchell 41-30594
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25D Mitchell 41-30594
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John M. Manders
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Thomas P. Clark Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Stephen P. Toth
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Fred J. Tencza
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Henry C. Rensink
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James L. Brown
FindAGrave - Capt John M Manders (photos, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Thomas Patrick Clark, Jr (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Thomas Patrick Clark (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Stephen P Toth (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Fred J Tencza (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Henry C Rensink (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt James L Brown (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - James Lindsey "Bubba" Brown (memorial marker photo)
"Bubba was the darling of the family, The only boy and the youngest child, he had a sunny disposition and was a friendly happy child. The only nephew old enough to remember him has vivid memories of his beautiful singing voice. Everyone around said he sang better than Frank Sinatra. His family was devastated at his death."
Warpath Across The Pacific pages 117, 368
Thanks to Larry Hickey and Edward Rogers for additional information
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February 4, 2018