|Missing In Action (MIA)||Prisoners Of War (POW)||Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)|
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|Pilot 1st Lt. Quinton D. Standiford, O-662504 (MIA / KIA) WA
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Thomas B. Merrill, O-725072 (MIA / KIA) OK
Navigator-Bombardier 2nd Lt. Vernon P. Shellabarger, O-738267 (MIA / KIA) IA
Radio TSgt Anthony H. Newsom Jr., 18033098 (KIA) TX
Gunner SSgt Francis L. Mc Eowen, 15085927 (POW, survived) IN
Gunner Sgt George G. Wales, 39165481 (MIA / KIA) ID
Crashed September 11, 1943 at 2:06pm
Over the target, the formation attacked from north to south. This B-25s was part of the first echelon in a line abreast formation nearest to the coastline of Shumshu Island, with the second echelon a quarter mile behind nearer to the Paramishu Island side. During the attack run, this B-25 was flying at low level between roughly 10' to 60' above sea level at 265 mph.
While passing to the west of Kataoka Naval Base on Shumshu Island, this bomber exploded and disintegrated. The crash was observed by another B-25 piloted by Captain Robert W. Dennis, plus two others aboard his bomber: 1st Lt. Claude W. Wilson and 1st Lt. Morgan I. Temple. It was believed this bomber was hit by anti-aircraft fire, as no enemy fighters were airborne until after the attack run when Ki-43 Oscars from the 54th Sentai intercepted the bombers.
When this B-25 failed to return, the entire crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). None of the returning B-25s believed anyone could have survived the crash of this bomber.
Fates of the Crew
In fact, gunner Mc Eowen survived the crash and found himself in the freezing cold sea, and immediately grabbed an oxygen bottle from the wreckage floating nearby and yelled out for help, realizing the coastline was too far away to reach swimming. A passing boat, Seishin Maru rescued him and immediately took him to the hospital where he was wrapped in blankets and given first aid treatment. His capture was reported in the Hokkai Times newspaper in Hokkaido.
Minoru Kamada adds:
Afterwards, he was transported to Omori POW Camp and detained for the rest of the Pacific War. Mc Eowan made a radio broadcast on Radio Tokyo. On or about November 14, 1943 a Japanese Radio Tokyo broadcast included an interview with Sgt Mc Eowen and was intercepted by the U. S. Navy on Amohitka Island. His voice was not recognized by anyone who knew him. During the interview, Mc Eowean relayed how he was rescued and treated kindly by the Japanese. He also spoke about his perceptions of the war and talked about his parents and three siblings (two brothers and a sister). Hearing the broadcast, his squadron mates did not believe he could have survived the crash and believed the broadcast was fake. Regardless, this broadcast resulted in his status being Missing In Action (MIA) versus declared dead. But, the U. S. Army deemed that since no official report of his capture was made by the Japanese or the Red Cross, it was recommended his status be changed to Killed In Action (KIA) on the day of the mission.
Mc Eowen survived the war and was liberated at the end of hostilities and transported to the United States.
Posthumously, Shellabarger earned the Purple Heart and Air Medal on December 28, 1944, the citation reads: "In grateful memory of Second Lieutenant Vernon Shellabarger, AS No. O-738267 who died in the service of country in the North American Area. He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live, and grow, and increase its blessings. Freedom lives through it, he lives - in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men." The Purple Heart award was made to Lt. Shellabarger "for military merit and wounds received in action resulting in his death." Signed by Henry Simpson, secretary of war.
Mc Eowen passed away during September 1981. He is buried at Washington Park East Cemetery in Indianapolis, IN at plot bid island, section AA, level 4 space 92.
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