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  B-25J-30/32-NC Mitchell Serial Number 44-31300  
USAAF
5th AF
345th BG
498th BS

Pilot  1st Lt. Robert G. Neal, O-833189 (POW, executed) Buffalo, NY
Co-Pilot  1st Lt. Louis J. Winiechi, Jr., O-831874 (POW, executed) NY
Navigator  1st Lt. Richard S. Lane, O-558308 (POW, executed) NJ
Engineer  SSgt Robert W. Goulet, 32839871 (POW, executed) NY
Radio SSgt William Cohen, 32975702 (POW, executed) NY

Crashed  August 7, 1945


Aircraft History
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to the Pacific.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 345th Bombardment Group, 498th Bombardment Squadron during July 1945. No nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On August 7, 1945 took off from Ie Shima Airfield on a mission over Matsubase (today part of Uki). Over the target, last seen flying southward, the B-25 piloted by 1st Lt. Albert Gruer attempted to fly behind it and contact this B-25 by radio, but without response. Unknown if hit by anti-aircraft fire or otherwise damaged, it was last seen over Matsubase. Later, it force landed successfully in Kumamoto Prefecture.

Fates of the Crew
The entire crew of five was taken prisoner by the Japanese and handed over to the Kempei Tai (Military Police). Transported to Western Army HQ at Fukuoka and imprisoned by theKempei Tai and held as prisoners for nine days, August 7–15.

On August 15, after Japan's surrender was announced, officers at Fukuoka met and issued an order stating that "There will be an execution of enemy fliers... because they are being held responsible for indiscriminate bombing... The executions will be kept secret."

The sixteen American prisoners held at the prison, including all members of this B-25 crew were taken by truck to a nearby field at Aburayama. The officer in charge, Major Kusumoto order the execution and one of the officers of the execution squad even brought his girlfriend to watch. The prisoners were stripped naked and taken into the woods singularly or in pairs and hacked to death with swords.

Afterwards, Adjutant's section Minoru Nakamura was ordered to place the bodies into coffins and take them to the crematorium at Aburayama, plus victims from an earlier execution that had been disinterred and all would be cremated at night. Afterwards, the ashes were sorted into envelopes and buried in a military cemetery.

Several days later, they were exhumed and taken to Kiyoko Jija (temple) where they were tuned over to the head priest, as American fliers who had died in a recent air raid on Fukuoka. A week later, the remains were taken by the Army again, and buried in the nearby hills by Koshi Yukino and Minoru Nakamura, on orders from Col. Yoshinao Sato (air defense officer, HQ staff)

Recovery of Remains
Postwar, the officers involved were prosecuted for this atrocity. US Army American Graves Registration Service. (AGRS) located the burial site and recovered their remains.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead on August 15, 1945. Memorialized on the tablets of the missing at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl).

Relatives
Diane Weaver (niece of Neal)
"I feel as if I can bring some honor to my uncle's memory for my grandmother. She was never the same and we were never allowed to talk of him. As a kid I would get out his pictures and eventually ask a question or two…but it was quickly shut down. Only when I grew up and convinced her to display his 8 X 10 military photo did she finally allow it."

References
Warpath Across The Pacific pages 343, 354-355, 379, 385

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-25

POW
POW
5 Prisoners Executed
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