|Pilot 1st Lt. William J. Love (KIA / BR)
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Thomas W. Stone (KIA / BR)
Navigator SSgt John R. Schwaller (KIA / BR)
Radio/Gunner Sgt Leland E. Baumbach
(KIA / BR)
John A. Becker (KIA / BR)
Photographer Sgt David Snider
(KIA / BR)
Built by North American as a B-25H-5 Mitchell. Assigned US Army Air Force Serial Number 43-4698. Assigned
to the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and designated a PBJ-1H Mitchell. Assigned to VMB-613. Each aircraft had
two complete air crews who shared the same plane. This aircraft was assigned to brothers: Robert Love and
William Love. Crew
#1 was assigned to Robert Love. Crew #2 was assigned to . William Love. Nicknamed "Love Bug".
Pilot 1st Lt. Robert E. Love
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Tom H. Houston
Navigator Pfc Joseph A. Danz Jr.
Radio-Gun Sgt Lloyd L. McDaniel
Radio-Gunner Clp Alvin J. Klinke
Mechanic Clp Joseph E. Brais
Arm/Gunner Sgt Harry L. Jordan
|Crew #2 (killed in the crash)
Pilot 1st Lt. William J. Love
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Thomas W. Stone
Nav SSgt John R. Schwaller
Radio Sgt Leland E. Baumbach
Radio/Gun Sgt John A. Becke
Obs/Photo Sgt David Snider
Robert Yanacek, VMB-613
"Here is an interesting story, told to me by one
of Bob Love's radio-gunners, Lloyd McDaniel. Bill Love
and his crew were not scheduled for the fateful raid. Bob Love and
his crew were supposed to have been on the raid. Lloyd told me that
at about dusk on February 5th, a Japanese sub was sighted. VMB-613
dispatched one aircraft to investigate. That aircraft was the "Love
by Bob Love and his crew. The patrolled the area for a number of hours
but couldn't locate anything. The headed back to Eniwetok and did not
land until after midnight. Because the arrived back so late, it was
decided that they would not fly the strike on Ponape. Bill Love and
his crew were then assigned to the mission. Bill Love and his crew
left Eniwetok at 9AM in the "Love Bug" never to return. As
Bob Love and his crew awoke on Eniwetok about noon, word came over
the radio that there had been some problems. Here are the two crews:
Note: Sergeant Dave Snider was
a member of Love's regular crew. Snider was an aerial photographer who was flying in the tail to photograph the
results of the strike. Crew #2 members, Pfc Frank Haddix and
Cpl Theodore H. Pyrch were not aboard the day the bomber crashed.
Took off from Enewetak Airfield (Stickell Field) on
a strike against Palikir
Airfield (Airfield No. 2) on Ponape Island. The last two planes in the
strike, including this aircraft were hit by anti-aircraft fire from "a
small gun atop Dolen Pahniepw" (Dolen Palikir) causing this bomber to to crash into the ground and burn upon impact. Shortly thereafter, one of the aircraft's
Recovery of Remains
Popope Islander Mr. Aldis ran down the
hill to the site of the crash, only to be chased away by Japanese
soldiers who had arrived on the scene. According to Mr. Aldis,
the Japanese recovered the bodies of five of the crew and buried
them in a common grave at the crash site with a sign that read: read: "to the brave American fliers". The remains of
the sixth crew member (Snider) could apparently not be located.
Postwar, American personnel arrived on Ponape as part of a War Crimes
Tribunal that conducted an inquiry about Americans killed on the island. One of the members of that tribunal was
1st Lieutenant Donald C. McCune, the Assistant Intelligence
Officer of Marine Bombing Squadron 613, who inquired about this crew.
American personnel exhumed the bodies of the crew from the crash site and transported them to Kolonia (Colonia) where they were temporarily buried. Later, transported to the United States for final burial.
Dick Williams adds:
"When I visited Ponape, some one told me, following the war, the brother
of the missing crewman ( Dave Snider) had traveled to Ponape to
search for him but was unable to locate his remains." One additional
Marine was killed on that strike, Pvt William M. Farley. His aircraft
attacked the airfield right before Bill Love's fateful run. A fragment
from a 500lb bomb hit him, killing him instantly."
The remains of Sgt Snider were located later and identified during 1948 and transported to the United States.
The entire crew was officially declared dead on the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, the crew (with the exception of Snider) were
buried June 10, 1949 at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at section 82, site 180.
After separate recovery of the remains of Sgt Snider, he was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Rochelle
Park, New Jersey during 1949.
Only a few large pieces of
the aircraft remain including the port engine and propeller, the
port landing gear and wheel, three defused general purpose
bombs, and a section of the port vertical and horizontal stabilizer. The
location of the vertical stabilizer proved an important find since
it was the only piece of aircraft with recognizable markings, a large
white "5" (last digit of Bureau Number) on
a blue background.
Dick Williams and Stan Gajda conducted an excavation at the crash site and revealed a "burnt
area" of ground and further pieces of the aircraft including
a bomb rail, and the shattered remains of a radar receiver. Smaller
fragments included a buckle, a lens, pieces of switches, metal forgings,
cloth fabric, and great deal of .50 caliber ammunition, shell casings,
and projectiles. They also searched the area around the Japanese gun atop Dolen Pahniepw and recovered a number
of 127mm anti-aircraft gun shell casings that had been fired.
On February 6, 2005, on the 60th anniversary of the loss of this bomber, a memorial service was conducted at the crash site, conducted by United States Ambassador Suzanne K. Hale and FSM Speaker
of the Congress, Peter Christian conducted a memorial service at the crash site.
VMB-613 Association Ponape Crash Site - Page 1 (photos)
VMB-613 Association Ponape Crash Site - Page 2 (photos)
VMB-613 Association Ponape Crash Site - Page 3 (photos)
FindAGrave - Sgt David Snider (grave photo)
Thanks to Stan Gajda, Dick
Williams and VBM-613 Association for additional information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
February 4, 2018