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  B-29-5-BW "Praying Mantis" Serial Number 42-6286  
USAAF
20th AF
58th BW
444th BG
677th BS

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USAAF c1944

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Justin Taylan 2008

Pilot  Major Hamilton H. Dyer, Jr. (KIA, BR) Kennebunk, ME
Co-Pilot  1st Lt. Hunter T. Railey (KIA, BR) Englewood, CO
Navigator  2nd Lt. Roland L. Albert (KIA, BR) Lynn, MA
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Douglas Salkin (KIA, BR) Brooklyn, NY
Engineer  TSgt Edward D. Crimmins (KIA, BR) Flandreau, SD
Radio  SSgt Walter C. Ciochon (KIA, BR) Flint, MI
Asst Radio  Sgt Raymond W. Perchorowicz (KIA, BR) Chicago, IL
Top Gunner  SSgt Erwin H. Mitchell (KIA, BR) Alpena, MI
Righter Gunner  SSgt Michael T. Mignogna (KIA, BR) Cleveland, OH
Left Gunner  SSgt Lowell H. Morris (KIA, BR) Boone, IA
Tail Gunner  SSgt Edward C. Congro
(KIA, BR) Lyndhurst, NY
Crashed  August 20, 1944
MACR  10590

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing. Assigned to the 20th Air Force, 58th Bombardment Wing, 444th Bombardment Group, 677th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Praying Mantis". This B-29 was one of the original group aircraft, assigned prior to their deployment to India.

Mission History
On August 20, 1944 took off from Kharagpur Airfield on a bombing mission against the Steel Mills at Yawata. Returning from the mission, this B-29 was last sighted by T/Sgt Alan Dunipace, tail gunner of B-29 #340 when it was located over the northern tip of Tat Sung Lake in Eastern China. The formation dispersed at that time due to oncoming darkness. Time of dispersment was lll5Z. The last radio contact with the radio operator, S/Sgt Walter C. Ciochon was at 1210Z and was with the 20th Bomber Command ground station.

This bomber ran out of fuel about 100km from its base at Cheng-du and crashed in the remote Shsi-Ling (Snow Mountain). The entire crew was listed as MIA. Search or recovery efforts failed to locate them.

Wreckage
Postwar, the crash site was visited postwar and the remains of the crew were recovered.

In the early 2000s, Bernard Yung had been given information by a journalist from his home town of Cheng-du, that the journalist had made a five day mule trip into the mountains and had located the wreckage of a B-29. Mr Yang, contacted the Beijing Aviation Association and a Professor Renije Hua, who was a former Chinese Air Force (CAF) "Hump" pilot in WWII was instrumental in assisting in the identification.

During July 2001, July 2004 and July 2005 Mr. Yang organized an expedition to visit the mountain with help from volunteers from the Suchuan Mountaineering Club and the Thin and High Mountain Climbing Team to accompany him. US Army CLIHI tried to discourage Mr. Yang and refused to let him accompany their expedition by citing "insurance concerns".

Near the site, Mr. Yang was able to locate a farmer who had taken a "tank" from the wreckage and was still using as a cooking pot. At the summit of a hilltop at 4,542m they located the crash site. They recovered 500 pieces of wreckage, some brought by to the United States to be examined by USAF historians, and confirmed the wreckage to be B-29 "Praying Mantis" 44-6286. Afterwards, these relics were donated to the New England Air Museum.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, the crew were buried on August 29, 1949 in a group bural at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery at plot E, grave 112.

The crew is also memorialized at the Monument to Aviation Martyrs Nanjing Memorial at Nanjing (Nanjing) in China.

Dyer also has a memorial marker at Evergreen Cemetery in Portland, ME at section R.

Crimmins also has a memorial marker at the Moody County Memorial Library in Flandreau, SD. This memorial is now displayed at the Moody County Resource Center in Flandreau, SD.

A display about this B-29 and the efforts of Mr. Yang is installed at the New England Air Museum as part of the 58th Bomb Wing Memorial. The display includes the wooden radio mast, brake pads, aluminum wreckage, hoses, electrical items, tire, shoes, canvas and part of the nose landing gear assembly.

During a 2005 expedition, a memorial plaque was placed at the crash site by Mr. Yang and eleven students from Chinese Universities.

References
Missing Air Crew Report 10590 (MACR 10590)
FindAGrave - Maj Hamilton H Dyer, Jr (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Maj Hamilton H Dyer, Jr (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 1LT Hunter Travis Railey (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Hunter Travis Railey (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Roland L Albert (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Roland L Albert (Monument to Aviation Martyrs Nanjing Memorial Nanjing)
FindAGrave - 2LT Roland L Albert (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Douglas Salkin (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Edward David Crimmins (photos, grave photo, memorial marker)
FindAGrave - SSgt Walter C Ciochon (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Raymond W Perchorowicz (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Erwin H Mitchell (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Michael T Mignogna (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Lowell H Morris (grave photo)
FindAGRave - Sgt Edward Charles Congro (grave photo)
Thanks to Tom Britton for this information and research.

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

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