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  B-26B "KreJan" Serial Number 41-17550  
USAAF
13th AF
42nd BG
70th BS

Pilot  Captain Lincoln E. Behling, O-392734 69th BS (MIA / KIA, BR) Ferron, UT
Co-Pilot  1st Lt Blaine K. Wiesner, O-424597 (MIA / KIA, BR) Montgomery County, OH
Navigator  1st Lt Mitchell S. Spadone, O-437473 (MIA / KIA, BR) NJ
Bombardier  2nd Lt Charles C. Hughes, O-69554 (MIA / KIA, BR) Calloway County, KY
Radio  SSgt Otis L. Sharp, 17014260 (MIA / KIA, BR) Bradley County, AR
Engineer  Sgt Daniel M. Mulcahy, 16035053 (MIA / KIA, BR) Chicago, IL
Tail Gunner  Pfc Raffaele Pietroluongo, 11021642 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Italy
Crashed  January 7, 1943
MACR  16544

Aircraft History
Built by Martin in Baltimore, Maryland. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-26B Marauder serial number 41-17550.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 42nd Bombardment Group, 70th Bombardment Squadron to pilot 1st Lt. William M. Griffith.

On June 2, 1942 took off from Hamilton Field piloted by 1st Lt. William M. Griffith co-pilot 2nd Lt. Mark G. Treat, navigator 2nd Lt. Daniel B. Sullivan and radio/engineer Cpl George T. Snodgrass as part of a ferry flight bound for Hickam Field on Oahu to join the Hawaiian Defense Command.

During the middle of November 1942, nicknamed "KreJan". This nickname was "Kre" named by pilot Bill Griffith short for Kretie Griffith and "Jan" by co-pilot Mark Treat after he learned of the birth of his first child Janette Ann Treat who was born October 19, 1942 in Akron, Ohio.

On November 14, 1942 took off from Nadi Airfield around 3:00pm piloted by 2nd Lt. William M. Griffith, co-pilot 2nd Lt. Mark G. Treat, navigator Jack Gillis, bombardier Cpl George T. Snodgrass, radio Tommy Hendrix, gunner/engineer Bracey on a flight bound for Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. When entering the landing pattern around sunset, American anti-aircraft gunners opened fire at the formation, mistaking them for Japanese bombers. This B-26 aborted the landing due to an aircraft still on the runway and went around again before landing safely then taxied into the mud. The flight was eight hours in duration.

On November 15, 1942 due to aviation fuel shortages the B-26s were ordered to depart Henderson Field and fly to Espiritu Santo and were later flown back to Nadi Airfield. During early January 1943 returned to Henderson Field to fly combat missions in the Solomon Islands.

Mission History
On January 7, 1943 took off from Henderson Field, piloted by Captain Lincoln E. Behling (who assigned to the 69th Bombardment Squadron) armed with 100 pound fragmentation bombs as one of six B-26s on a bombing mission against Munda Airfield on New Georgia. This B-26 was leading the formation.

Over Munda Airfield, a low ceiling of clouds obscured the target area and the formation proceeded to the alternate target of Rekata Bay on Santa Isabela but found it also had a low ceiling. Previously, B-26's attacked this target without opposition and the formation initiated a low level attack. After releasing their bombs, this B-26 was hit by converging automatic anti-aircraft fire that scored direct hits that caused it to pull straight up, stall over on one wing and descend in flames before crashing into the sea. When this bomber failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

69th BS diary recorded:
"Well diary this day is the saddest day in our history, we lost our best Captain and crew yesterday afternoon in a raid over Rekata Bay, a Jap sea plane base. Captain Behling lead 6 planes in the afternoon to bomb Munda airdrome but found it impossible as they had a very low ceiling so they went over to Rekada Bay and it too had a low ceiling but on the last raid we encountered no no AA fire so he decided to make a low bombing run at 600 feet. The Japs were laying for them and shot everything at 'em except the kitchen sink and maybe that. Our boys reported it was a solid sheet of flame they flew right through sit spreading their 100 lbs bombs all over the place. Evidently Captain Behling got an explosive shell in the cockpit as over the target his plane shot straight up and fell off on one wing and spun down in flames and exploded when hitting the water. The other ships managed to limp home. Captain Long nursed his aircraft home on one engine with hydraulic, electrical systems out, and bullet holes in his wings, tail and every where else. Lt. Howbert and my class mate Don White received as a present 52 bullet holes in his plane, two of which went between Whites' legs. They put a neat hole through a brace of the landing gear but it stood up for the landing. Lt. Field and co-pilot Shurman, also my classmate, received 37 holes in their plane which got one of their oil tanks but not bad enough to cause engine failure. His tail gunner got a float type zero fighter. Lt Howbert tail gunner was shot in the leg but will be OK in a few weeks. Capt. Lingamfelter, our flight leader, plane was shot up so bad that he dared not land as everything on his ship was shot up. All crew members got out OK near the field and he bailed out last and fell 500 feet before his chute opened as it tangles in his legs and he fought to free it to open at 600 feet. They're OK except a little shaken up but are ready for another crack at the Japs. Out of that raid we lost a crew and one airplane #117550 [this bomber]. Lingamfelter in #17588 is gone. Lt. Howbert in #7536 may fly again but it is doubtful. Lt. Fields #115780 may fly again. Capt. Long's #117567 definitely will never fly."

Wreckage
On September 13, 1943, American forces discovered the wreckage of this B-26 on the shore of Papatura Fa Island, directly across from Suavanau Point. The wreckage was scattered, but identification tags of two of the crew (Otis and Mulcahy) were discovered. Also, wallets and personal papers belonging to each of the crew members.

Recovery of Remains
On September 15, 1943, the remains recovered two days prior were buried in a single box in a single grave at a point 20 yards from Rekata Bay beach, 50 yards south of the road crossing the tip of Suavanau Point.

A memorial service was conducted by local natives. A wooden cross was erected with a card reading "In memory of a B-26 crew" and photos of the grave taken for reference. During the late 1940s, the grave was exhumed and the remains of the crew were transported to the United States for permanent burial.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. On August 25, 1949 buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at section 82 site 65-66. Hughes also has a memorial marker in Murray City Cemetery in Murray, KY. Pietroluongo also has a memorial marker in Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Marlborough, MA.

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-26B Marauder 41-17550
"17550 (38th BG, 69th BS, 13th AF) shot down by AAA over Rekata Bay, Santa Isabel Island in the Solomon Islands Jan 7, 1943. MACR 16544. All seven crew killed."
Missing Air Crew Report 16544 (MACR 16544) created retroactively circa 1945–1946 states bombing run was was from an altitude of 300'.
Diary of Mark G. Treat - November 14-15, 1942
Bombs Away! A History of the 70th Bombardment Squadron (M) in Early World War II pages 24-25 (June 2, 1942 ferry flight) 63 (photo), 84-85, 105, 116, 118
FindAGrave - Capt Lincoln Ernest “"Linc"” Behling (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Capt Lincoln Ernest “Linc” Behling (photo)
FindAGrave - 1LT Blaine K Wiesner (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 1LT Mitchell S Spadone (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Charles C Hughes (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Charles Cornelius Hughes, Jr (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT Otis L Sharp (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - SGT Daniel M Mulcahy (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - PFC Raffaele “Robert” Pietroluongo (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - PFC Raffaele “Robert” Pietroluongo (memorial marker photo)
Thanks to Larry Hickey / International Historical Research Associates for additional information

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Last Updated
December 14, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-26

MIA
MIA
7 Missing
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