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  B-26B "Dixie Belle" Serial Number 41-17558  
USAAF
5th AF
38th BG
70th BS

Click For Enlargement
c1942

Pilot  Captain Walter L. Callaham, O-353833 (MIA / KIA) OK
Co-Pilot  1st Lt. William R. McNeese, O-428246 (MIA / KIA) MS
Navigator  2nd Lt. Samuel R. Hufstedler, Jr., O-437345 (MIA / KIA) MO
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Leonard M. Feldman, O-659533 (MIA / KIA) IL
Crew  SSgt Frank L. House, 14053775 (MIA / KIA) LA
Crew  Pfc John E. Lawler, 37113028 (MIA / KIA) IA
Crew  Pvt Richard Gray, 13012407
(MIA / KIA) PA
Crashed  November 15, 1942 at 5:00-5:10pm
MACR  16322

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, 38th Bombardment Group, 70th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Dixie Belle".

Mission History
Took off from Henderson Field on a flight back to their home base on Espiritu Santo. Roughly 323 miles southeast of Guadalcanal the Squadron had emerged from a violent rain squall, and it was later believed to have soaked the engine wiring of this B-26 or caused propeller damage.

This B-26 ditched into the sea between 5 - 5:10pm at approximately 12 degrees, 37 minutes South, 163 degrees 50 minutes East. Witnesses report that the plane hit 20 - 30-foot waves at about 150 mph, spun and flipped on its back, and broke open.

Search
The squadron searched for the crew the day of the crash. Afterwards, subsequent searches by destroyers and PBYs, turned up only wreckage and unrolled life rafts, no bodies. The nearest land was 165 miles away.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the crash. The following crew members are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) House, Hufstedler and Callaham. The following crew are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery: McNeese, Lawler, Feldman and Gray.

Relatives
Paul Hufstedler adds:
"Samuel R. Hufstedler, Jr. was my late father's youngest brother, the youngest of 6 children born to S.R. and Phenie Ollar Hufstedler in Ripley County, MO. (Two "children still survive: John, age 99, and Bess, 101. We lost Virginia last week at age 97!"

References
"Two Soldiers, One Family" by Paul D. Hufstedler 1994
Thanks to Paul Hufstedler for additional information
The MACR references propeller trouble as the cause of the crash.

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-26

Photos
Photo Archive

MIA
MIA
7 Missing

Map
12 d 37' S
163 d 50' E

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