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|Pilot 1st Lt. Earl J. Wilkinson (survived)
Co-Pilot 2nd Taylor R. Runolfson (survived)
Navigator 1st Lt. Joseph F. Masterson (survived) Troy, NY
Engineer-Gunner Sgt Gregory L. McCoy (survived)
Radio-Gunner TSgt Peter F. Prunty, 32821119 (WIA, survived) Bronx, NY
Ditched August 10, 1945
Built by North American during 1944. Constructors Number 108-34268. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25J-30/32-NC Mitchell serial number 44-30993.
Over the Tsushima Straits, 1st Lt. Wilkinson's flight spotted a small fishing boat and a boat building village near the mouth of a stream. During their strafing run, a camouflaged destroyer in a nearby cove that opened fired at the bombers. Shrapnel hit this bomber's right wing and top turret but managed to drop their bombs and made a strafing run and claimed one bomb hit on the bow. Afterwards, hit by another burst of fire that damaged the right engine, fuel tank and damaged the elevator and right tail rudder. Lost during the same attack run was B-25J Mitchell 44-31065 (crew KIA).
Damaged, Wilkinson feathered the right engine and manage to clear the area. Although damaged and flying on one engine, this B-25 attempted to return to base but was loosing fuel and the crew jettisoned as much equipment as possible. Spotting the crippled aircraft, B-25 piloted by 1st Lt. Donald D. Wright from the 499th Bombardment Squadron escorted it roughly 180 miles back towards Ie Shima before running out of fuel.
Before ditching Runolfson released the life raft hatch but jammed. On impact, the B-25 landed tail first then nosed over and tore out the floor of the radio compartment causing water to rush into the cockpit. Radio operator Prunty was sucked out of the plane with an injured leg. Both Runolfson and Masterson had life vests that only partially inflated. The B-25 floated for several minutes before sinking.
After six hours floating in the sea, they were spotted by B-17 Flying Fortress call sign "Juke Box" from the 5th Rescue Group based on Okinawa was flying box searches. As the plane drew nearer, they released their dye marker. After spotting the crew, it climbed to 1,500' and released the 27' Higgins Boat that landed only 75-100 yards from the men. The men swam to the boat and inside found their position was noted with a heading to sail towards.
On August 11, 1945 during the morning the crew attempted to use the "Gibson Girl" radio aboard but had no wind and used a hydrogen inflated balloon. At 9:30am, they spotted a submarine approaching then spotted a mile away. The crew started the engine and motored toward the submarine.
The submarine was USS Plaice (SS-390) which was unaware of the downed crew but had spotted the boat with their periscope and had closed to investigate. Watching the vessel through their binoculars, the crew incorrectly believed they might be an enemy vessel as no one aboard was signaling them. As the boat began motoring towards them, the submarine fired three warning shots from the 40mm Bofors deck gun. The crew frantically fired flares while Masterson waved a yellow tarp.
Spotting the "Goodyear" logo on the yellow tarp, the submarine crew realized they were friendly and rescued the downed crew. Immediately, Prunty was given morphine and went to the sick bay. Before departing, the submarine crew sank the Higgins boat with gunfire.
Afterwards, USS Plaice (SS-390) radioed for them to be picked up. On August 12, 1945 in the morning, a g PBM Mariner landed next to the submarine to fly the crew back to its seaplane tender off Okinawa. Finally, a PT-Boat transported them to Ie Shima completing their rescue.
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