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  B-25D Mitchell Serial Number ?  
USAAF
5th AF
71st TRG
17th TRS

Pilot  Major William Grant Tennille, Jr., 0-396485 C.O. 17th TRS (MIA / KIA) NC
Co-Pilot  1st Lt Robert J. Alves, O-733773 (MIA / KIA) CA
Observer  2nd Lt. Robert J. Nevins, O-746904
Radio  Sgt Crawford W. Bell, 35476697 (MIA / KIA) KY
Armour/Gunner  Sgt Reed S. Wilburn, 33181412 (MIA / KIA) MD
Photo/Gunner  Sgt John R. Wagstaff, 14188380 (MIA / KIA) NC

MIA  June 8, 1944
MACR  16160 and 16127

Aircraft History
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army serial number unknown, possibly 42-87295. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to the Pacific.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 17th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On June 8, 1944 took off from Wakde Airfield on leading a strike by ten B-25s (Mission #160 B-310) tasked with attacking six Japanese destroyers bound for Biak during the Battle of Cape Waios. The formation flying in a "V of V's" located the convoy headed due east at 0° 50' E 132° 50' E, then broke up into two ship elements to attack. According to the B-25s, the convoy consisted of two cruisers and four destroyers and met intense anti-aircraft fire.

This B-25 was attacked a ship claimed to be a cruiser, flew over it and landed in the water, presumed lost to anti-aircraft fire. Last seen 50 miles north of Cape Waios (False Cape) on the Vogelkop Peninsula on Dutch New Guinea. Approximate location 0045 S and 13245 E.

Also lost were B-25D piloted by Wood and B-25D piloted by Lind. Four Japanese destroyers were claimed by the B-25s, but in fact only Harusame was sunk.

After the mission Maj. William Tennille was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (posthumously). After the mission, General MacArthur commented on the B-25s: "The job was magnificently done," General Ennis Whitehead who said, "This squadron has this date performed one of the finest military feats of the war." Of the seven B-25s that returned, five were damaged.

Memorials
The entire crew was presumed dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Tennille has a memorial marker at Salem Cemetery in Winston-Salem, NC.

Alves is also memorialized at Santa Rosa Memorial Park in Santa Rosa, CA at Veterans Lawn I Urn Garden - Grave 405-4A.

Relatives
Andy Tennille (Grandson of William Grant Tennille)
"My grandfather was Major William Grant Tennille, squadron commander of the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron."

References
Note: this loss appears to have two duplicate MACR number: 16160 and 16127, neither notes the serial number of the B-25, its engines or guns. MACR 16311 also lists the names of this crew.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William G. Tennille Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert J. Alves
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Crawford W. Bell
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Reed S. Wilburn
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John R. Wagstaff
ABMC or Nationwide Grave Locater do not list Robert J. Nevins
FindAGrave - MAJ William G Tennille, Jr (photo)
FindAGrave - Maj William Grant Tennille, Jr (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Robert John Alves (memorial marker)
17th Special Operations Squadron History - June 8, 1944 reference
"How Jap Flotillas Sank" by Spencer Davis, AP Staff Writer, CALL-BULLETIN June 13, 1944
High Point Enterprise "A Special Mission: Reporter Discovers Grandfather's War Record" by Andy Tennille June 16, 2002

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-25

MIA
MIA
5 Missing

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