|Pilot Captain Lon F. Brown, O-416999 (MIA / KIA) SD
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Joseph T. Sproules, O-676665 (MIA / KIA) CA
Navigator 1st Lt Frederick E. Harburg, O-418293 (MIA / KIA) CO
Gunner Sgt Michael R. Maggio, 12034423 (MIA / KIA) NJ
Radio S/Sgt Ralph E. Samuelson, 36395103 (MIA / KIA) IL
Photographer-Gunner S/Sgt Sterling E. Wilkinson, 39680466 (MIA / KIA) UT
MIA February 6, 1944 at 2:20pm approximately
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to the Pacific.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 17th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. Nicknamed "Sticky Kitty". Number 286.
On February 6, 1944 one of three B-25s (also #295 and #280) took off from Finschafen Airfield on an armed reconnaissance mission over Bunabun Harbor on the north coast of New Guinea. Over the target, this B-25 was flying in the center of the formation and dropped from 1,500' down to 100' and attacked at low level five partly camouflaged Japanese barges loaded with supplies. Suddenly, heavy anti-aircraft fire erupted from the area, apparently from 75mm and 40mm guns firing 10-15 second bursts that were intense and accurate at the bomber formation. This B-25's left engine was hit, followed by the right engine causing it to disintegrated and crash into Bunabun Harbor. The nose section was also seen falling into the sea burning. This B-25 crashed into shallow water off Uligan Harbor.
The crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
On May 27, 1946 a RAAF Searcher Party led by S/L Keith Rundle visited Uligan Harbor and interviewed native people about aircraft losses in the area. They led the party to the wreckage of a twin engined aircraft in shallow water. An engine cowling with "B-25 42-87286 L" was located at the site plus many part numbers. The team believed that if any remains were located in the aircraft they were now gone due to exposure to high seas. The local people heard a rumor that the Japanese Army captured and executed the crew. This information was relayed to American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) at Finschafen.
Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 16161 lists this aircraft as "B-25D 286" (last three digits of serial number only)
Another source lists the crew was captured and executed by the Japanese Army
Other sources incorrectly list this aircraft as B-25D 42-87280
Royal Australian Air Force Survey of Wreckage in Papua and New Guinea, B-25D 42-87286 number 313, page 9
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lon F. Brown
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joseph T. Sproules
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frederick E. Harburg
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Michael R. Maggio
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ralph E. Samuelson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Sterling E. Wilkinson
Combat Recon page 86
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
February 4, 2018