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|Pilot 1st Lt. Glenn Willard
Smith "Smitty", O-21855 (MIA / KIA) Inglewood, CA
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Ralph Milton Jones Jr., O-25395 (MIA / KIA) Griffin, GA
Navigator Sgt. John Slingluff Little, 452483 (MIA / KIA) Norristown, PA
Radio Sgt. George Dewey Herbst, Jr., 489222 (MIA / KIA) Pottstown, PA
Gunner Cpl. Michael F. Mazepa, 425132 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY
Gunner Cpl. Ferris Robert Gillen, 421734 (MIA / KIA) Muncie, IL
Passenger Cpl. Robert S. Bleir (MIA / KIA)
Crashed May 5, 1944
Glenn Willard Smith nicknamed "Smitty" was a graduate of Chaffey College and enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps. During August 1943 he served as VMB-413's commander of the guard until his death on May 5, 1944. Ralph Milton Jones Jr. was a graduate of North Georgia Military College.
Built by North American. Constructors Number 100-20720. Delivered U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) B-25D-25 Mitchell serial number 42-87227. Assigned U. S. Navy (USN) as PBJ-1D Mitchell bureau number 35143.
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) to Marine Bombing Squadron 413 (VMB-413). No known nickname or nose art. Ferried overseas via Hawaii then across the Pacific to the South Pacific.
Flying at medium altitude over Tobera Airfield, this B-25 was hit by anti-aircraft fire in the left engine that damaged the engine and partially dislodged it from the mount. Another bomber in the formation photographed the damaged PBJ Mitchell while still in flight. Moments later, it crashed three miles west of the runway into a Japanese camp area. This bomber impacted at high speed, killing the entire crew in the impact.
During the late 1990s plantation owner Rick Ray discovered buried human remains were discovered at the crash site under a piece of armor plate and .50 caliber machine guns.
Rick Ray adds:
In March 2001 portions of the wreckage were reportedly scrapped by a local.
Recovery of Remains
In 2000, CILHI continued investigations, led by recovery leader Dennis Danielson, and excavated the area with the engines and tail wreckage.
There is a memorial marker for the crew at Arlington National Cemetery, section 34 site 4900. According to Arlington Cemetery, they do not have a record recording when this stone was place (sometime postwar).
Little also has a memorial marker at Saint John Episcopal Church Cemetery, Norristown PA with the inscription: "He Gave His Life for His Country May 5, 1944 Over Rabaul New Britain S.W.P. Requiescat in Pace".
Navy Serial Number Search Results PBJ-1D Mitchell 35143
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