Lt W.Cooks Crew
435th Squadron, 19th Bomb Groups B-17E 41-2467
Missing in Action
Glen E. Spieth
At was the morning of March 5, 1942, and the pride of the city of Seattle was about to be christened. "Chief Seattle from the Pacific Northwest", a B-17E, was about to be presented to the Army Air Corps by the citizens of Seattle. This was the first B-17 to be named after a city and one of the first officially recognized examples of nose art to be used on a B-17.
Work began on the plane in 1941, then known only as Boeing serial number 2467. By December 7, 1941, (55) B-17Es had been produced, from Army number 41-2393 to 41-2441, but with the advent of hostilities with the Japanese, B-17 production was accelerated and by March 3, 1942, there were an additional 212 available. The entire contract for 512 B-17Es was completed by May of 1942. Serial number 2467 completed its flight testing and was officially accepted by the Army on March 3, 1942. The Army Air Corps issued an aircraft number, 41-2656, which became its official designation.
Almost halfway around the world at Broome, Australia, that day, the Japanese attacked and destroyed several B-17Es, 41-2449 and 41-2454, along with a number of B-24's and fighters. A number of ships and flying boats in the harbor were also destroyed during the attack. General Douglas MacArthur had recently been ordered to leave the Philippines and was reluctantly preparing for that departure.
War bond drives were just getting started to raise money for the war effort. One bond campaign, sponsored by the Seattle Post-Intelligence, began to sell specially earmarked defense bonds to the citizens of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. They hoped to raise enough to pay the production cost of a new B-17E Flying Fortress, $280,535. By March the goal had been met, and 41-2656 was selected to receive special attention. In preparation for a public ceremony, the name "Chief Seattle - From the Pacific Northwest" was selected and painted on both sides of the nose.
Chrisening Ceremony held at Boeing Field with (left to right) P. G. Johnson Major Gen F. L. Martin accepting
(behind the nose) Mrs Edward C. Teats, Maj Gen F. L. Martin and Seattle the plane on behalf of the Army
Mayor Earl Millikin. Air Corps
The acceptance ceremony was held at Boeing Field on March 5, 1942, and was broadcast live on the radio. The Boeing Aircraft Company President P. G. Johnson and Seattle Mayor Earl Millikin were there to present the plane to Maj or General Frederick L. Martin. Mrs. Edward C. Teats christened "Chief Seattle", smashing the traditional champagne bottle on a special rod installed in a machine gun mounting hole in the nose. General Martin had been in charge of the Hawaiian Air Force at the time of the Japanese attack and now was the Commander of the Second Air Force. Mrs. Teats' husband was a pilot with the 19th Bomb Group and was in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked Clark Field just hours after they hit Pearl Harbor. Lieutenant Teats was flying reconnaissance and bombing missions almost every day during the Japanese invasions of the Philippines and Java up to the time of these ceremonies. Less than two weeks later, he would be selected to fly as copilot for Lieutenant Frank P. Bostrom on a TOP SECRET mission, which was to carry General Douglas MacArthur out of the Philippines on March 17, 1942.
After the christening, the delivery flight was to Lowery Field near Denver, Colorado, where the plane remained until May. By June 1942 it was at Hamilton Field and the Sacramento Air Depot in California for installation of equipment in preparation for a trip to Hickam Field, Hawaii. By July 1942 it had reached a combat area and was assigned to the 19th Bomb Group in Australia. Because of a shortage of aircraft, it was quickly pressed into service flying reconnaissance missions in the South Pacific.
FIRST COMBAT MISSION
On August 4, 1942, Lieutenant Morris Friedman and his crew from the 93rd Squadron of the 19th Group were transferred to the 64th Squadron of the 43rd Bomb Group. They had orders to pick up a plane, "Chief Seattle", from the Charleville Depot in Australia and deliver it to their new squadron at Fenton, south of Darwin. They picked up the plane and flew first to Daly Waters, not being able to locate Fenton. After receiving directions, they continued the flight to Fenton the next day. The 64th Squadron was waiting for the first of their new B-17Fs from the United States. When "Chief Seattle" arrived, it became their first and only B-17, but just for a day. On August 6th they lost it when additional orders came through for the crew and plane to fly to Townsville for an assignment with the 435th Squadron of the 19th Group. On the afternoon of the 8th, they left Townsville for Port Moresby to prepare for a mission.
“Chief Seattle”, Aug 11 1942 with the crew that flew the first two missions: Standing, left to right, is Sgt Quantin Lakely, Pvt Philip Zumwalt - later killed in the crash of B-17E 419207 on April 12 1943, Sgt Leslie Stewart -- lost on the same plane as Gen Walker on Jan 5 1943. Lt John Pickering, Lt Morris Friedman, Lt Haskell Wexler, Sgt Meyer Levin - the bombardier who hit the first Japanese ship, the battleship Haruna, from Capt Colin Kelly’s plane. Sgt Levine was later killed in crash of B-17F 41-24383 in the Gulf of Papua, Jan 7, 1943. Seated left to right, Sgt Dennis Craig and Sgt Tomas Wood. This is the last known photograph of the “Chief Seattle”
Early the morning of August 9th, "Chief Seattle" took off to fly a reconnaissance mission to Rabaul and Kavieng on the islands of New Britain. The mission was flown by Lieutenant Korrie Friedman and his crew (see photo). Their flight from Port Moresby took them over Rabaul and Kavieng, then back to Port Moresby, a flight of 8 hours and 40 minutes. On the 11th, the same mission was repeated: however, the flight was cut short by a problem with the number two engine. They returned to Port Moresby after a 3-hour flight. Frank Hewlett, a United Press correspondent, met the plane as it returned and interviewed the crew for their hometown papers. A photo was taken in front of "Chief Seattle" while the ground crew started to work on the number two engine. Repairs were completed by the 13th and the plane was back in service.
A second crew from the 435th Squadron was assigned to fly the next mission. The new crew was experienced in the ways of war in the Pacific. Many were veterans of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Some had been on the ground dodging bombs and bullets, and some had been in the air over the island in unarmed B-17s trying to save
The 435th KANGAROO SQUADRON
Observatin & Bombing, Clouds for Escort
themselves and their machines from the repeated attacks of the Japanese fighters sent to destroy them. In the early days of World War II, the Japanese expanded their control over most of the Pacific. On December 7th and 8th, most of the American Army and Navy Air Forces were destroyed, as well as most of the Pacific Fleet. All American operations were handicapped by the loss of men, machines, and supplies. The 7th and the 19th bomb Groups entered the war together at Pearl Harbor, and many would remain together in the new units organized to fill the voids created by the loss of men and equipment. One of the best examples was the Kangaroo Squadron.
The 435th Bombardment Squadron of the 19th Bomb Group, then stationed at Garbutt Field near Townsville, Australia, was known as the Kangaroo Squadron. The Squadron began with pieces of the 22nd, 38th, and 86th Squadrons of the 7th and 19th Bomb Groups. By the time they reached Australia in February 1942, much of the 19th Bomb Group in the Philippines and Java had been destroyed. As the evacuees made it back to Australia, many were assigned to these squadrons, which were then redesignated, first the 14th Squadron of the 19th Group in March, then the 40th in April, and finally the 435th in May.
On August 13, 1942, at Port Moresby, the crew of 10 men were preparing for their reconnaissance mission, which was to take off at 6:00 a.m. the next morning. The briefing was held early in the evening of August 13th at Seven Mile Strip, which was then 7 miles from Port Moresby. The orders were to check on enemy operations at Band, Gasmata, the sea lanes between them, .and, most important, at Rabaul, which had become a large Japanese military installation and supply depot for operations in the South Pacific. They were then to fly on to Kavieng to check activity there and return to Port Moresby. The crew had just flown in from Townsville, arriving about dusk. To arrive too early in the daylight hours would risk having the plane damaged in a strafing attack. The Japanese could bomb and strafe the field at any time during the day light hours, and had been doing so on a regular basis.
Another reconnaissance mission flown by Lieutenant Andrew H. Price had just returned from a successful flight early that afternoon and had been debriefed. Lieutenant Price had passed over Band where there was little activity that day, then proceeded toward Gasmata on the southern part of New Britain. They were flying at about 1000 feet just under the cloud layer, about midway between Band and Gasmata, when they spotted a Japanese convoy just 3 miles to their east. The ships began firing immediately, so they headed up into the cloud cover and stayed in the area to track the progress of the convoy. The convoy was heading toward Band on the north coast of Papua New Guinea. It consisted of four or five transports, several destroyers, and some smaller ships. The convoy was about l-days travel northwest of the town of Band, which had been captured by the Japanese several months before. The Japanese were mounting a major offensive to cross the Owen Stanley Mountains and attack Port Moresby. Most of the north coast was already in Japanese hands, and by taking Port Moresby, the remainder of Papua New Guinea, would come under Japanese occupation.
The last crew to fly “Chief Seattle” taken at Port Moresby in July of 1942. Standing, left to right, is Sgt J Dunbar, unknown, Lt J. Cunningham, unknown, Lt H. Mobley, Kneeling, left to right is Sgt E. Rahier, unknown, Capt W. Coop. Cpl C. Hartman is not shown.
The transports Lieutenant Price had located appeared to be carrying supplies and more troops for the Japanese push over the Kokota Trail in the mountains between Band and Port Moresby. The Japanese were near the crest of the trail and were about to make their push down the trail into Port Moresby. Lieutenant Price's plane had spent 3 hours tracking the convoy and sending radio messages with their position, and a homing signal, so that the bombers from his group could locate and sink the ships. His plane was attacked by Zeros shortly after they began transmitting. Much of their time thereafter was spent ducking into the clouds trying to evade the fighters. Three fighters came in from the left and two more were approaching from the rear. They lost the fighters and managed to stay near the convoy shadowing it until a flight of B-17s, following their homing signal, approached the convoy. Unable to see if any damage was done, they proceeded back to Port Moresby, landing at 1:15 p.m. on the 13th. After a short debriefing session, they returned to home base at Garbutt Field in Australia.
The final orders for the crew of "Chief Seattle" that evening included instructions to send a radio message if attacked. They were to report any significant targets and the positions of any large convoys or troop Movements seen on the flight. The mission was to take off at 06:00 the next morning. The first order of business that night was to get some sleep, because they needed to get up at 4:00 a.m. to prepare for the mission.
The pilot on this flight was Lieutenant Wilson L. Cook. Lieutenant Cook was from Bradley, Oklahoma, a quiet and modest young man who was an experienced first pilot with 45 missions in the Pacific. He had flown this same flight path a number of times before and knew it well. His flight training began at Kelly Field, Texas, before the war. After advanced training, he was assigned to the 88th Squadron of the 7th Bomb Group. Lieutenant Cook had been in this war since it started just before 8:00 a.m. on December 7, 1941. At that time he was flying as copilot for Lieutenant Frank P. Bostrom in the B-17E No 41-2416, as they approached Hickam Field, Hawaii. The 7th Bomb Group had been ordered to the Philippines, and Hickam Field was the first stop on the flight. Their plane had left Hamilton Field at 10:35 p.m. pacific time on December 6, only to arrive at Pearl Harbor the same time as the Japanese. As they approached Diamond Head, they called the tower for landing instructions and were told that they were first to land, and to land west to east. There appeared to be some smoke at Pearl Harbor as they lined up on the final approach. A ship in the harbor was burning with heavy black smoke. As they neared the field, the tower instructed them not to land, so they swung to the left, down the hangar line. On that turn an antiaircraft shell exploded just off the right wing, and, at the same time, they spotted a plane burning on the field. Lieutenant Bostrom got on the radio and asked what the hell was going on. He was told that the field was under attack. They were then at 700 feet, coming around, ready for a second attempt to land, but a number of destroyers opened up with antiaircraft fire and cut them off. They swung northeast along the shoreline, planning to return as soon as the attack was over, but when they called the tower again, the tower responded that they were under attack again. Lieutenant Bostrom and Lieutenant Cook tried to keep the plane in the clouds because they only had 45-caliber pistols to shoot with. A Japanese fighter came in from the rear, but they out maneuvered him. Three more fighters came in, with at least two coming in close with guns blazing. A number of hits were taken in the tail and wings.
No one on board was hurt, but the fuel was almost gone and the plane was still on full power since the first pass at the field. The throttles were pulled back to conserve fuel but the gauges now read empty. A place to set the plane down must be found or they would crash. A golf course was spotted and a decision was quickly made to put it down on a fairway. The landing was a success and no other damage was done to the plane. The fuel transfer line, a flap rod, and some electrical wiring was hit and damaged by Japanese shells. The fuel line was replaced using a part from one of the damaged planes at Hickam Field. The flap rod and some of the wiring was repaired. Enough fuel was obtained from Wheeler Field to fly the plane out. After two days and two nights making repairs, Lieutenant Bostrom and Lieutenant Cook flew the plane out.
Lieutenant Cook never made it to Plum, the secret destination of the 7th Bomb Group. Plum was the Del Monte Plantation airstrip on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Action in Hawaii precluded the movement to Plum, and in early February the 88th Squadron was released from the control of the Hawaiian Department and sent to Australia to cover a Navy Task Force. This task force was on its way, planning to hit the Japanese installations at Rabaul in New Britain. The B-17s were to fly reconnaissance and air cover for the carrier USS Lexington, which was part of the task force.
The copilot was Sergeant Pilot George S. Andrews, a husky, likable, cheerful, and well-mannered man from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. This was a man whose own home in Australia was in danger of being invaded by the Japanese. He was one of six Australian pilots that were chosen from the Royal Australian Air Force and assigned to the 435th Squadron to learn how to fly the latest American Flying Fortresses.
The bombardier was Lieutenant Joseph R. Cunningham, a well-built, quiet, young man from Travelers Rest, north of Greenville in South Carolina. Joe was in a Hawaiian Air Force squadron, then was reassigned to the 88th Squadron for the trip to Australia. Joe had his share of action in the Pacific, first flying reconnaissance missions in Hawaii, then in the Coral Sea, New Guinea, and New Britain areas. He had lots of experience dropping bombs on ships, airdromes, and shooting his way back home from missions, manning the nose gun.
The navigator was Lieutenant Hubert S. Mobley, a tall, lean, likable guy, who was just out of school and into the war. Hubert came from Tampa, Florida and had just turned 21. He was assigned to Lieutenant Harold N. Chaffins plane, 41-2430, for the flight to Hawaii, which arrived the morning of December 7, 1941. When the plane came in toward Hickam Field they knew something was amiss after observing burning ships in the harbor, burning hangars and planes on the field, and the air full of antiaircraft fire. Also, the tower was silent. Their plane continued on across the island until they spotted a small field where they could land. The field turned out to be a small fighter strip, the Haleiwa Emergency Field. A short time after evacuating their plane, another B-17 came in. That plane, 41-2429, had been flown over by Captain Richard H. Carmichael. Twenty minutes later, a single Japanese fighter strafed the field. Hubert already had a lot of navigation experience, having flown approximately 45 missions. Hubert was the navigator on one of the planes sent to the Philippines to bring back General MacArthur and his staff, and 10 days later he returned to evacuate President Quezon of the Philippines and his staff.
The engineer and upper-turret gunner was Staff Sergeant Elwyn O. Rahier. Elwyn was good with the guns and had a score to settle with the Japanese. He was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. Elwyn and his crew were some of the first in the 7th Bomb Group to be sent to the Philippines. They had arrived in Hawaii on the 5th of December, 1941. Several from his crew were killed while they were checking over their B-24 at Hickam Field. Elwyn had not yet left the barracks area when the attack started. Everyone was trying to find cover and get weapons, but in the scramble a bomb exploded near Elwyn and knocked him out of the action that day with a concussion. In March he was on the mission to evacuate General MacArthur. His plane carried a large number of the General's staff to Australia.
The radio operator and gunner was Technical Sergeant Irving W. McMichael from Lincoln, Nebraska. Irving was in the 88th Bomb Squadron of the 7th Bomb Group at Hamilton Field, California, in 1940. He was also assigned to Lieutenant Harold N. Chaffins, along with Lieutenant Mobley, their navigator for the flight to Hawaii, which arrived the morning of December 1, 1941. He, Lieutenant Mobley, and Sergeant Rahier were on the same mission to bring out General MacArthur's staff. Irving had flown quite a number of missions to the Philippines, New Guinea, and the South Pacific.
The assistant engineer was Staff Sergeant John J. Dunbar. John was a big, husky, young man from Tujunga, California, who was ready to fight the Japanese. He had done a share of that in Java but had managed to get out before the Japanese took the island. John arrived in Australia in time to fly a number of missions in New Guinea and New Britain.
The assistant radio operator and gunner was Corporal Charles M. Hartman from Gettysburg, a small town in central South Dakota. He also was a veteran of Java. Charles volunteered for this flight to fill in for another crew member who was sick.
Map of the Papua, New Guinea, to Rabaul area with the probable flight path indicated.
The special radio operator was Private David B. Beattie, one of the first volunteers for training in ASV operation. ASV, or anti surface vessel, was an early form of radar. A signal was sent out from a special transmitter and an echo was received and displayed on a screen, which was calibrated to give the operator the range from his plane to a vessel on the surface of the water. This gave the B-17 crews a method to locate ships before they could be seen. David was a young man and had not been in the unit long, but long enough to demonstrate his proficiency in detecting enemy ships.
The last member of the crew was the aerial gunner Corporal Richard K. Pastor. Richard came from Lynbrook, Long Island, just southeast of New York City. On December 7th, Richard was with the Hawaiian Department stationed on the big island. He was transferred and went on to the South Pacific, eventually becoming an experienced gunner for the Kangaroo Squadron.
THE THIRD MISSION
The morning of their mission came all too soon. The alarm went off and they all had to dress quickly and get something to eat. By 5:00 a.m., they all had had breakfast, picked up their box lunches, and were picked up by a truck for the ride to the plane. The runway consisted of steel matting. There were no taxiways, and what few roads there were, were not paved. The plane was located in one of the revetments, loaded and ready to go. Two auxiliary fuel tanks in the bomb bay were topped off during the night by the ground crew.
Lieutenant Cook and Sergeant Pilot Andrews made their customary walk around the plane checking the engines, landing gear, flaps, horizontal stabilizers, and rudder. Everything appeared in order, and the crew lined up and pulled the props through the three turns necessary to get any oil that had accumulated in the lower cylinders out, and to keep them from becoming oil-fouled. With the inspections over, the crew boarded the plane and took their positions. Several of the ground crew manned the fire extinguishers for startup. Andrews went through the check list, "Emergency Ignition Switch", Cook replied "on" "Master Battery Switch" - "on" "Hydraulic Pump Switch" - "on" "Landing Gear Control Switch" - "neutral", "Flap Control Switch" - “neutral”, “Set Parking Brake” - “Set”, “Cabin Heat Off” - “off”, “Turbos off” - “off”, Fuel shutoff Valve” -”open”, Fuel Transfer” - “off”, “Crack Throttles - “Throttles Cracked”, “Intercooler Cold” - “cold”, “Open Carburetor Filters” - “open”, “Set Props High” - “set on high”, “Mixtures to Engine Off Position” - mixtures off”.
Cook signaled to the ground crew that he was "starting one", and the engine turned slowly and began to fire. Smoke billowed out the exhaust for a few seconds as the engine picked up speed. Start two, start three, and smart four were called out as each engine went through the same sequence. As each fired, the mixtures were moved to auto rich. Now that the engines mere all running, the check list was resumed, "Unlock Flight Controls" - "unlocked", "Cowl Flaps Open" - “open”, “Wing flaps up” - “Flaps up”, “Tail Wheel unlocked” - “unlocked”. It was time now to taxi out and up the runway. The ground crew was signaled to unchock the wheels, the engines were run up, and the plane began to move. Turning up the runway, the trim was set to neutral in preparation for the takeoff.
“Chief of Seattle” taxied up to the north end of the runway and turned around toward the south and the center of the strip. The engines were again run up until the oil and cylinder temperatures were at the recommended readings for takeoff. “Boost Pumps On”, Cook called out, “on”, Andrews replied, “Tail Wheel Lock” - “locked”, “Generator Switches On” - “on”. The list was complete and they were ready to go. Cook applied slow pressure on the throttles until all the engines were at full power. The plane began to roll, picking up speed. The dawn was just breaking and the water in the bay was calm. The wheels lifted off at 6:02 a.m. and were retracted shortly after leaving the ground. They passed over a gully at the end of the runway and then out over a the bay for a slow climbing turn to the southeast.
MISSING IN ACTION
“Chief Seattle” and the men she carried were never seen or heard from again. The Missing Aircraft Report made out by the squadron after their disappearance indicated that they were assumed lost between 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. that day. The necessary paperwork was filed, and their belongings were collected, packaged, and sent to their next of kin. At a very active time in the war in the Pacific, little could be done to try to find them. The Marines had just landed on Guadalcanal, and the Japanese were pushing over the Kokoda trail on Port Moresby. Port Moresby by that time had sustained over 70 air attacks. The Japanese sea lanes were very active with supplies for troops in New Guinea, and a new Japanese landing was planned in a few days at Milne Bay, located at the southeastern tip of New Guinea. Although the loss was on the minds of men in the unit, the war went on.
Current analysis of this mission would lead one to believe that the following narrative is the most probable explanation for their disappearance and why no clues have surfaced to date.
The route after takeoff would have put them in a left turn toward the southeast and on a course of 130 degrees. At 6:17, over Round Point near Rigo, they would have made a slow turn to the northeast, climbing, until approximately 11,000 feet, before leveling off to head through a pass in the Owen Stanley Range. Much higher, the crew would need to go on oxygen masks, much lower would mean an increased risk of running into one of the peaks in the Owen Stanley .Mountains. The peaks were at 13,000 feet, so care had to be taken to be certain of their position. At 6:35, they would have entered the pass and cleared the 8,000 foot elevation. If the pass was obscured by clouds, and the instruments or navigation were off, the flight could have ended there: however, this was a rather broad pass and they probably made it through. Twenty-eight minutes later, the town of Band was coming up. They were now in enemy territory, time to be alert. A dozen or more enemy fighters stationed at the Band airstrip could approach from any direction. The coast should have been clear, and a few ships would have been visible. Missions flown between Band and Gasmata on August 12th and 13th encountered clouds from 1,000 to 2,000 feet, extending up to 13,000 feet, with storms in the channel. The weather on the 14th, the day of their flight, was similar.
Private Beattie would have the ASV system in operation before approaching. Band. Some spikes should have already been showing, for several ships were just off the coast on the way in to Band. Only minutes after passing Band, those ships should have been visible. Detected on the mission the day before, they would have been approaching Band; Antiaircraft fire from the two destroyers would have begun as soon as they approached. Circling the small convoy, out of range, the ship count and type would have been noted. Completing that task, they would have turned to the northeast, resuming their original course toward Gasmata. It is highly probable that in checking the sea lanes near Gasmata and around the eastern side of New Britain, another convoy was spotted, and they were then jumped by Zeros. A reconnaissance mission flown on August 12th by Lieutenant John W. Fields spotted a number of enemy ships near the equator north of Kavieng enroute to Rabaul. By the 14th, those ships were either at Rabaul or well south of Rabaul on their way to supply Band. A number of Japanese cruisers and destroyers were also in the area available for, support, for within a week they would support, their invasion effort at Milne Bay.
"Chief Seattle" found the enemy and was most probably shot down at sea by Zeros before a radio message could be sent. A frontal attack was the most effective method used by the Japanese at the time. The two 30-caliber machine guns in the nose were ineffective in such an attack. The pilot normally had to dive to allow the upper turret an opportunity to fire. An engine problem could have also contributed to the loss by slowing them down. Had any of the crew survived the crash, the odds were very much against them. The Pacific was sparsely populated: a hostile, tropical jungle environment with shark-infested waters, and, if captured, little chance of surviving the Japanese prison camps. It was a much different type of war than that fought in Europe. The first mission flown by the Eighth Air Force in Europe was on August 17th, 3 days after the "Chief Seattle" was missing in Action.
The loss of "Chief Seattle" is now a part of history; however, the story is not finished. What happened after they took off from Port Moresby at 6:02 a.m. is still uncertain. Forty-six years later, the Kissing Aircraft Report now on file in the National Archives at Washington D. C. still contains no clues as to their fate. The file went through the third and final review in 1948 and the official Reports of Death were issued for each of the crew.
Locating convoys and being jumped by Zeros were everyday occurrences and typical action experienced by planes and crews of the Kangaroo Squadron. The 435th went on to fly a total of 385 armed reconnaissance missions, 145 bombing sorties, 10 supply and evacuation missions, as well as 168 missions flown out of Hawaii and 12 missions out of Fiji. From February 20, 1942, through November 11, 1942, crews traveled 8,280,000 nautical miles or approximately 363 times around the world at the equator. Most combat crew member flew 28 to 66 missions, usually with a duration of 8 to 13 hours each. The longest mission took a crew 38 hours to get to their target, drop their bombs, and return: 6,000 nautical miles.
One other aircraft loss from the 19th Group occurred a week earlier, on August 7th. Captain Hart Pease Jr. was shot down on a mission to Rabaul. He and his crew did not want to miss the big mission that day. Their assigned aircraft was unserviceable, so they borrowed and repaired another unserviceable B-17E, 41-2429; from the 435th to make the mission. They lost an engine over the target, dropped their bombs on the target with the rest of the group, fell behind and were repeatedly attacked by Zeros until their plane crashed into the sea. Captain Pease received the Medal of Honor for his actions that day. There were no survivors, and had it not been for others in the group who saw them go down, they too might have been lost without a trace.
We must not forget the sacrifices that all these men made and the contributions that they may have made to this world, had they survived. Sadness is still felt by their families and friends today. A question always asked at each of the 7th and 19th Bomb Group reunions is: Has "Chief Seattle" been found yet? Maybe a clue will surface that will lead to the discovery of the crash. Perhaps, then their remains will be returned and the answer to this mystery solved. Their story then could be finished.
Ghost of the “Chief Seattle”, resting place unknown