|Pilot Major Wilbur E. "Barney" Hurlbutt, O-1699361 (MIA / KIA)
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Felix P. Omilian, O-685171 (MIA / KIA)
Bombardier 1st Lt. Glendon M. Aitken (MIA / KIA)
Navigator 1st Lt. Edward H. Stoehr (MIA / KIA)
Engineer 1st Lt. Glenn C. Truesdell (MIA / KIA)
Radio Sgt Joseph P. Nighan (MIA / KIA)
Radar SSgt Paul E. Dreyer (MIA / KIA)
Gunner Sgt Karl Hunt (MIA / KIA)
Gunner Sgt Frank J. Yanik (MIA / KIA)
Gunner Cpl Richard P. Steinberg (MIA / KIA)
Passenger Lt. Col Marcus A. Mullen
(MIA / KIA)
Tail Gunner Sgt Harold T. Hedges, 38400804 (POW, survived)
Crashed January 3, 1945
Built by Boeing. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to the Marianas.
Assigned to the 20th Air Force, 500th Bombardment Group, 882nd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "The Leading Lady" or "Leading Lady". Tail code Z Square 22. When lost, engines R-3350-23A serial numbers DW-201668, DW-202007, DW-202078 and DW-201769.
Mission 17: On January 3, 1945 one of ninety-seven B-29s that took off from Aslito Field (Isely) on Saipan on a bombing mission against Nagoya urban areas and docks. Each B-29 was armed with fourteen M-69 incendiary cluster bombs. Nineteen aborted before reaching the target and 57 hit the primary target and
21 others bomb alternates and targets of opportunity; Japanese fighters made
300+ attacks against the formation while B-29 gunners claim 14-14-20 Japanese
aircraft. Five B-29s are lost including this aircraft.
Over the target, intercepted by Ki-61 Tonys from Komaki Airfield and Itami Airfield, plus 210 Kokutai Zeros, J1N1 Irvings and D4Y Judys from Meiji Airfield. Over Okazaki, southeast of Nagoya, this B-29 was rammed by a 55th Sentai Ki-61 Tony piloted by 1st Lt. Minoru Shirota, who bailed out, but died from injuries the next day. The B-29 was hit between the nose and no. 3 engine and fell out of formation, leveled out then suffered an explosion and rolled over on its back and went into a spin. This B-29 was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Fate of the Crew
During the impact, tail gunner Hedges was thrown out of the tail escape hatch and was the only member of the crew who was able to escape the aircraft. Descending, he was strafed by two enemy aircraft. After landing, he was taken prisoner. At the end of the war, he was liberated from Omori POW Camp and returned to the United States.
Recovery of Remains
At the crash site, the bodies of the rest of the crew were recovered postwar returned to the United States for permenant burial.
This B-29 crashed near Matsudaira village, Aichi Prefecture. The crash site was located by the Japanese and parts recovered and the bodies of the crew were removed. Cine footage of the crash site was recorded.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. The remains of the crew were recovered postwar and were buried in a group burial at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery at section E site 114.
YouTube Footage of crash B-29 crash site 2:47 - 3:18
B-29 Hunters of the JAAF page 67, 68 (photo)
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Harold T. Hedges
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June 27, 2018