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  B-26 "The Virginian" Serial Number 40-1508  
USAAF
5th AF
22nd BG
HQ Squadron

Click For Enlargement
D. Parer June 9, 1942

Pilot  1st Lt. Willis G. Bench, O-420822 (MIA / KIA) OK
Co-Pilot  P/O Lorne Allan John Passmore, RAAF 412675 (MIA / KIA) Rose Bay, NSW
Bombardier  Cpl Alex Makuch, 13011250 (MIA / KIA) PA
Navigator  2/Lt Harold P. Beck, O-434966 (MIA / KIA) WI
Radio
 S/Sgt Samuel Siegel, 6905713 (MIA / KIA) NY
Engineer
 Cpl George H. Miles, 13001411 (MIA / KIA) PA
Gunner  Cpl Robert A. Rockefeller, 7071440 (MIA / KIA) NJ
Passenger
 Lt Col Francis R. Stevens, U. S. Army O-15779 (MIA / KIA) MS

Crashed  June 9, 1942
MACR  16074

Aircraft History
Built by Martin. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 22nd Bombardment Group, Headquarters Squadron. Nicknamed "The Virginian". below the right side of the cockpit. No known nose art.

Mission History
On June 9, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Willis G. Bench as one of eleven B-26s on a bombing mission against Lae and Salamaua with other B-25 Mitchells and B-17 Flying Fortresses. In the same formation was B-26 "Heckling Hare" 40-1488 with passenger Commander Lyndon B Johnson (who later became U. S. President), but this aircraft aborted the mission before reaching the target and returned to base.

Over the target, the formation was attacked by up to 20 A6M2 Zeros. Bench took his B-26 down to sea level in an attempt to evade and escape, but was shot down into a bay approximately 30 miles south of Salamaua.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead June 8, 1942, incorrectly. Each earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Australian Passmore was officially declared dead on June 9, 1942. He is memorialized at Lae War Cemetery on the Lae Memorial, panel 6.

Bench also has a memorial marker at Bench Vernon Cemetery in Coweta, OK at section O, War Veteran's Cenotaph Memorial.

Miles also has a memorial marker at Buck Valley Christian Church Cemetery in Warfordsburg, PA.

Stevens also has a memorial marker at Arlington National Cemetery at section 17, site 24073-40. Stevens also has another memorial marker at Columbia City Cemetery in Columbia, MS.

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-26 40-1508
"1508 (22nd BG, Headquarters BS, 5th AF, "The Virginian") shot down by A6M2 30 mi off Salamaua Morobe, Papua New Guinea Jun 9, 1942. MACR 16074. All 8 crew killed"
Missing Air Crew Report 16074 (MACR 16074) was created retroactively circa 1945 or 1946
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-26 40-1508
Revenge of the Red Raiders pages 100, 105-107, 474, 489
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Willis G. Bench
Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) - Lorne Allan John Passmore
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Alex Makuch
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harold P. Beck
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Samuel Siegel
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George H. Miles
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert A. Rockefeller
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Francis R. Stevens
FindAGrave - 1Lt Willis G Bench (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Willis G. Bench (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Pilot Officer Lorne Allan Passmore (Lae War Memorial Photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Alex Makuch
FindAGrave - 2Lt Harold Peter Beck (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Samuel Siegel (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Corp George H Miles (memorial marker photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - CPL George H Miles (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Corp Robert Allen Rockefeller (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - LtCol Francis R Stevens (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - LTC Francis Robert Stevens (Arlington memorial marker)
FindAGrave - LTC Francis Robert Stevens (Person profile, Arlington memorial marker photo)

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Last Updated
May 13, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-26

Tech Info
MIA
8 Missing
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