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  PB4Y-2 Privateer Bureau Number 59538  

Pilot  Lt. Robert J. Brower, O-114553 USNR (MIA / KIA) NB
Co-Pilot  Lt(jg) David C. Davis, 129327 (resuced, POW, liberated)
Crew  Ensign Ned E. Brown, O-395956 USNR (MIA / KIA) UT
Crew  AOM3c John V. Brennan, Jr., 8857669 USN (MIA / KIA) CA
Crew  AOM3c William H. Cates, 8674499 USNR (MIA / KIA) KY
Crew  AR2c Stanley Sunshine, 7115755 USNR (MIA / KIA) NY
Crew  AOM3c Earl K. Elias, 6380285 USNR (MIA / KIA) SC
Crew  S1c Robert B. Watson, 2091328 USNR (MIA / KIA) ME
Crew  AMM2c Frank R. Gardner, 6386058 (resuced, POW, liberated)
Crew  ARM1c Jack R. Lewis, 8778802 (rescued, POW, liberated)
Crew  S1c Theodore Kalmuk, 8149898
(rescued, POW, liberated)
Crew  AMM2c George E. Dacier, 6061142 (rescued, POW, liberated)
Crashed  July 7, 1945

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Assigned to the U. S. Navy (USN) to squadron VPB-124. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
Took off from Yontan Airfield on Okinawa at 4:05am armed with nine 250 lbs bombs on a search and reconnaissance mission over the Taushima Straits between Kyushu and Korea along with PB4Y Privateer piloted by Lt. Osborn Jr. Weather was broken and scattered clouds at 2,000'. Arrived over the target area during 7:50am until 9:30am with clear visibility.

At 7:50am at roughly 34° 35' N Long 128° 15'E the pair spotted two enemy destroyer escorts and a destroyer headed for a cove on shore. Spotting the Privateers, they opened fire with 5" anti-aircraft fire, forcing them to abort an attack. Their position was reported to base.

At 8:10am flying at 150-250' off sea level spotted a pair of Rex float planes at 1,200' that dove down and attacked then made another run. This Privateer's top turret gunner fired at one of them and observed hits that caused it to crash into the sea. The other Rex was also claimed as damaged and observed to be smoking and headed towards land. During the attack, this Privateer likely sustained damage to the hydraulic system.

At 9:01am after turning towards base, spotted a sub-chaser. Brower reported over the radio to Osborne that his aircraft had a hydraulic leak, likely caused by damage from the float planes. Circling the vessel roughly four miles off Uku Island (Ukushima) the northernmost island in the Goto Retto Island Group.

As pair began an attack run, Brower radioed "Get out of the way Ossie [Osborne]. We're going in." Incorrectly believing Brower wanted to make a solo attack run and broke off his attack. The sub-chaser opened fire on both Privateers and scored hits on Brower's aircraft near the No. 2 engine causing it to smoke. Brower's plane made an attack run with the bomb bay doors closed (likely due to the hydraulic leak) but his gunners stafted the vessel before crashing into the sea roughly a half mile from the sub-chaser.

Osborne's Privateer dropped five bombs and strafed an enemy sub-chaser from 100' exploding off the stern. The nearest bomb exploded 15' astern. The vessel was deemed to have been seriously damage and was observed to be listing with the stern down.

Afterwards, Osborne circled the crash site of this aircraft and observed five or six crew alive in the sea floating in their life vests and dropped their life boat to them. The survivors were seen to retrieve the boat. During this run, Osborne's Privateer came under 40mm and 5" anti-aircraft fire from shore batteries on Uku Island that straddled his plane. Low on fuel, Osborne returned to base.

Fates of the Crew
At least five of the crew survived the crash and were rescued by Japanese fisherman: Davis, Gardner, Lewis, Kalmuk and Dacier. They were handed over to the Japanese Navy and became Prisoners Of War (POW). They were transported to Sasebo and arrived at Ofuna Camp on July 11, 1945. At the end of the war, they were liberated from Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku).

The eight Missing In Action (MIA) crew members were officially declared dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) in the courts of the missing.

Brower has a memorial marker at Fullerton Cemetery in Fullerton, Nebraska.
Brennan has a memorial marker at Saint Mary Cemetery in Missoula, MT.

Thanks to Minoru Kamada for additional information
POW Research Network Japan
VPB-124 Mission Report - July 7, 1945
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Lt(jg) David C. Davis
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Frank R. Gardner
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Jack R. Lewis
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Theodore Kalmuck
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - George E. Dacier
FindAGrave - Robert J. Brower
FindAGrave - John Vincent Brennan, Jr
FindAGrave - AOM3 Earl K Elias (tablets of the missing photo)

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


Tech Information


8 Missing
5 Prisoners

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