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  PBJ-1H "Love Bug" Bureau Number 35275 Tail MB-6
USMC
VMB-613

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USMC 1945

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Stan Gajda 2001

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Steven Druzak 2005

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)
Radio/Gunner
 Sgt John A. Becker (KIA / BR)
Photographer  
Sgt David Snider (KIA / BR)

Crashed  February 6, 1945

Aircraft History
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".

Crew #1:
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 veteran adds:
"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 Bug" flown 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.

Wartime History
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 bombs exploded. 

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.

Memorials
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.

Wreckage
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.

References
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

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

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