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  B-29-45-BW "Rover Boys Express" Serial Number 42-24769 Tail V□-27
20th AF
499th BG
878th BS

Pilot  Edmund Gilbert Smith, O-424690 (POW, survived)
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. James W. Edwards, O-815110(POW, survived)
Engineer  2nd Lt. William T. Franz, Jr., O-866991 (KIA, body recovered) NJ
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Robert L. Grace, O-703239 (KIA, body recovered) CA
Navigator  2nd Lt. Ray F. "Hap" Halloran, O-703246 (POW, survived)
Radar  Sgt John P. Nicholson, 18163306 (POW, survived)
CFC  SSgt Robert B. Holladay, 13120169 (MIA / KIA)
Radio  SSgt Guy H. Knobel, 17063259 (POW, survived)
Left Gunner  Sgt Vito C. Barbieri, 17060993 (MIA / KIA)
Right Gunner  Sgt Anthony Lukasiewicz, 36890499 (MIA / KIA) MI
Tail Gunner  Sgt Cecil T. Laird, 39327992
Crashed  January 27, 1945
MACR  11555

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing. Assigned to the 499th Bombardment Group, 878th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Rover Boys Express". Engine and weapon serial numbers are not listed in MACR.

Mission History
Took off from Saipan on a bombing mission against Tokyo. Fifteen miles west of the target, intercepted by Ki-45 Nick piloted by 1st Lt. Kashiide who opened fire head on, one of his 37mm cannon rounds hit the nose destroying the electrics, intercom and nose plexiglass.

fifteen miles west of the target. Crashed near Ikisu village near Konoike Airfield in Ibaraki Prefecture, killing seven civilians and burning several houses.

Four bodies of crew members were found in the wreckage and another body found in a field to the north. Seven managed to bail out and were quickly captured.

Fates of the Crew
Seven parachuted out. Franz was killed by angry villagers when he landed. There is evidence Grace was captured and alive until March 10, but his fate is unknown.

The other five including Halloran were taken prisoner and survived the war.

Halloran was held as a prisoner at Kempei Tai in Tokyo. Next, caged at Ueno Zoo then moved to Omori POW Camp in a barracks with fellow prisoner Gregory "Pappy" Boyington.

The following crew members were declared dead on January 27, 1945. Grace is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl). Postwar, the bodies of two of the crew were recovered and permanently buried at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) Lukasiewicz at Plot C Row 0 Grave 1506. Franz at Plot M Row 0 Grave 740.

B-29 Hunters of the JAAF pages 79-81, 121
Pacific Air Combat WWII pages 70 (photo), 71-73
NARA Prisoner Of War File - Ray Halloran
NARA Prisoner of War File - James W. Edwards
NARA Prisoner of War File - Edmund G. Smith
NARA Prisoner of War File - Guy H. Knobel

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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