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|Pilot 1st Lt. Leonard T. Nicholson (survived) Prescott, AZ
Co-Pilot 1st Lt Jack L. Childers (survived) Clarinda, IA
Navigator 1st Lt Norman E. Oefreese (KIA, BR)
Bombardier Sgt Jack C. Moseley, 20400992 (MIA / KIA, BRN drowned in aircraft) GA
Engineer S/Sgt William M. Brown, 17004410 (MIA / KIA, accidentally killed by natives January 9, 1943, BNR) NB
Radio Operator S/Sgt Joseph P. Papp, 6991311 (MIA / KIA, BRN drowned in aircraft) OH
Gunner Cpl Thomas A. Moffitt (survived)
Ditched January 7, 1943
On April 23 1942 this B-26 flew its first combat mission. In total, this B-26 flew at least 25 combat missions, including two missions with the 19th Bombardment Squadron before it was lost.
Damaged, this B-26 managed to depart the target area before ditching close to the shore into Hercules Bay, about 40 miles south of Salamaua. Another source states it ditched eleven miles off shore, two miles north of the Eia River.
Fates of the Crew
Nicholson, Childers and Moffitt swam ashore carrying between them Oefreese's body. Ashore, they buried his body on the beach. Believing they were in enemy territory, the walked southeast along the beach.
On January 8, 1943 they spotted a Beaufighter piloted by WO Allan Kirley and navigator FSgt Bob Cummins. Spotting the friendly aircraft, the three Americans waved their life vests to attract attention. The Beaufighter dropped them food and a map directing them to friendly lines.
On January 9, 1943 natives spotted the three and mistook them for Japanese and fired on them. Brown shot and killed while Nicholson, Childers and Moffitt fled in different directions. Alone, each three man proceeded separately. All three were found by friendly natives and brought to an Australian Army camp and flown back to base.
Childers continued to walk on the beach. On January 10, 1943 Beaufighter A19-15 spotted him and dropped supplies. Afterwards, he made his way to a deserted village on a river and remained there for two days alone. Spotting a native on the far side of the river and waved then took him to aboard his canoe to his village a day upstream, then to an Australian Army camp where he rested then flown from Ioma Airfield to Port Moresby.
Moffitt was also found by friendly natives and taken to the Australian camp then flown from Ioma Airfield to Port Moresby. Afterwards, three surviving crew were sent to Australia for rest and recuperation.
Nicholson remained in the military and served in the Korean War. He retired from the U. S. Air Force (USAF) as a Colonel. He passed away Feb. 25, 1987 and is buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery at T2, 331.
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