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345th BG August 14, 1944
|Pilot 1st Lt. Eugene Nirdlinger, O-798567 (MIA / KIA, BR) PA
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Jacob E. Hedenquist, Jr., O-829477 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Bombardier / Navigator 1st Lt. John Scalzone, O-729574 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Engineer-Gunner Sgt Herbert Ratnoff (MIA / KIA, BR)
Radio-Gunner TSgt William J. Welch, Jr., 31017833 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Gunner SSgt Henry G. Romaine, 20245444 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Crashed August 15, 1944
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25D-30 Mitchell serial nunmber 43-3383. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force and modified to a B-25D-2 strafer by the 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field at Townsville. On April 28, 1944 assigned to 345th Bombardment Group "Air Apaches", 501st Bombardment Squadron "Black Panthers". No known nose art or nickname. Regular pilot Jacobson and crew chief Gettel.
On August 15, 1944 took off from Mokmer Drome on Biak Island piloted by 1st Lt. Eugene Nirdlinger leading the squadron on a strike against the dock area of Ternate. Over the target, this B-25's bomb bay racks malfunctioned and did not drop.
Instead, Nirdlinger proceeded to make a second bomb run against a a small ship tied up to the jetty at Dodinga on the western side of Halmahera Island with B-25D "Quitch" 41-30518 piloted by 1st Lt. John J. Nolan. Approaching the jetty, anti-aircraft guns opened fire on both bombers. After releasing their bombs, both B-25 pulled up to climb over the hills surrounding the target. Possibly, this B-25 was damaged by anti-aircraft fire.
While pulling up, this B-25's tail impacted the the wing of B-25D "Quitch" 41-30518 damaging the right wing. From of the impact, the tail of this bomber broke off and crashed nose first into the hillside near Dodinga on Halmahera Island. The aftermath of the explosion was photographed from the tail camera aboard B-25D "The Gay Mare" 41-30089 in the same formation. When this B-25 failed to return, it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also damaged, struggled to maintain control and ditched off Kamiri on Noemfoor Island.
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, the remains of the crew were recovered by American Graves Registration Service (AGRS). The recovered remains were transported to the United States for permenant burial.
The entire crew was declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, the entire crew was buried in a group burial spanning three graves at Woodlawn National Cemetery. Nirdlinger and Hedenquist are buried at section G site 4587. Ratnoff and Romaine are buried at section G site 4588. Welch at section G site 45889.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records Eugene Nirdlinger
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25D-30 Mitchell 43-3383
Missing Air Crew Report 16265 (MACR 16265) created retroactively circa 1945-1946
Warpath Across The Pacific page 178-180, 371, 398
FindAGrave - Eugene Azsor Nirdlinger (photo, obituary, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Jacob E Hedenquist, Jr (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - John Scalzone (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Herbert Ratnoff (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - William J Welch, Jr (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Henry G Romaine (photo, group burial photo)
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