|Pilot Captain Lincoln E. Behling, O-392734 (MIA / KIA)
Co-Pilot 1st Lt Blaine K. Wiesner, O-424597 (MIA / KIA)
Navigator 1st Lt Mitchell S. Spadone, O-437473 (MIA / KIA)
Bombardier 2nd Lt Charles C. Hughes, O-69554 (MIA / KIA)
Radio SSgt Otis L. Sharp, 17014260 (MIA / KIA)
Engineer Sgt Daniel M. Mulcahy, 16035053 (MIA / KIA)
Tail Gunner Pfc Raffaele Pietroluongo,
11021642 (MIA / KIA)
Crashed January 7, 1943
Built by Martin. Assigned to the 38th Bombardment Group, 69th Bombardment Squadron to pilot Griffith. Nicknamed
One of six B-26s that took off from Henderson Field, piloted by Captain Behling, leading the bombers. The formation proceeded to Munda Airfield, but found the target was covered by a low ceiling of cloud. Instead, they proceeded to Rekata Bay that also had a low ceiling. Since B-26's had attacked this target the previously without opposition, a low level attack was initiated, dropping bombs from 300'.
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. 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."
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.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. 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.
Postwar, transported to the United States. Buried on August 25, 1949 in a group burial Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at section 82 site 65-66.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-26B Marauder 41-17550
Thanks to Larry Hickey / International Historical Research
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May 11, 2018