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Hot!B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI

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WillowRun
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2009/01/13 16:00:13 (permalink)
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B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI

During the past few months, I have been trying to put together some further information and details from the FO WR in regard to the alleged sabotage and subsequent crash of the A/C in question.  Another Site member has been doing long-term investigation and had sent me a newspaper article from which to glean initial facts.   I'll list what facts I have and see if anyone else has anything else to add.  Here is a section of the post from the Site Member on the incident from a local newspaper.  "I am still doing background research on the crash of B24-D S/N 41-11898 near Hastings, Michigan on 14 August 1942, again my specific  search is for information and/or confirmation of drilled oil lines to the engines and the subsequent arrest of the perpetrators."  The information that I have currently is as follows:
1.  B-24D-CO, 41-11898 is a San Diego built A/C prior to the use of "block" build sequencing.
2.  There were no B-24D's built at FO WR. The B-24E's  were all from42-6976 > 42-7464 & 42-7770 totalling 490 A/C's.  This represented 7 Eng. Blocks not including 42-7770.
3.  The 1st built FO WR A/C (.01) completed on 15MA42 from parts supplied by Consolidated and was more of a "hands-on-training/morale booster."
4.  The first of the actual FO WR B-24E's, A/C #1, was completed on the Assembly  Line on 10SE42 and accepted by the AAF on 30SE42.
5.  Charles A. Lindbergh was engaged by Henry Ford as an Engineering Consultant at FO WR on 23MR42 to assist in manufacturing "ramp-up" and engineeing changes that might be required. 
6.  The Hastings accident occurred on 14AU42 before actual FO WR production had completed its first "build line A/C."
7  There are no mentions of sabotage in Lindbergh's writings on FO WR nor within the limited writings available here.  This, however, does not preclude the possibility since here were "other issues" within the facility.  However, this seems that it could have been an "isolated incident" not related to "day-to-day" activities within the plant itself.
8.  CO A/C's were regular visitors to FO WR as Consolidated assisted Ford in getting more parts and ramped-up more readily.
 
Based on this information, would there be any other leads or ideas out there?  Any help would be appreciated!  For continuity to my History: Willow Run Liberators Thread, I am also posting this section there also.  Thanks!
 
 
 

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Anthony J. Mireles
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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2009/01/17 16:50:53 (permalink)
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There was absolutely no sabotage involved in this accident according to the official AAF Form No. 14 Aircraft Accident Report.  I had addressed this accident on this forum a couple of years back and also for other individuals who have contacted me.  The sabotage myth will not die; the accident was the result of pilot error.  Maybe the sabotage idea was thrown out there to cover up this tragic blunder. 

Investigators stated:

     "[The pilot] was scheduled to make a flight, within the local flying area, from Willow Run to Saginaw to Kalamazoo to Willow Run.  Take-off was made at 2107.  It is believed that the pilot completed the first leg of his flight and was en route to Kalamazoo when he encountered bad weather.  The pilot flew through the weather and was [flying visual flight rules] when he saw Hastings, Michigan, and mistook Hastings for Battle Creek.  There was a fair in progress on the west side of town, bearing the same relation to Hastings as does Kellogg Field to Battle Creek.  The pilot made a decision to land and circled to the left.  Witnesses state the plane flew over Hastings from the east and turned toward the southwest.  Examination of the wreckage disclosed that the landing gear was down and locked.  At the actual instant of the crash, it appears that the left wing tip first made contact with the ground, indicating a circle to the left and that the pilot might have been looking for the field and did not see the ground; probably the nose of the airplane dropped when he made his turn and he did not take into account the slight difference in elevation of Battle Creek and that of Willow Run."

So there you have it.  The pilot mistook the town of Hastings for the town of Battle Creek. He circled a fair grounds that he mistook for the airfield and inadvertently flew the airplane into the ground while attempting to land.  No mechanical failure; the landing gear was down and locked and the plane was using the radio.  No sabotage; just a tragic mistake made by a young pilot. 

See:
Army Air Forces Aircraft Accident Report Microfilm
Call # 46116
 
TonyM
post edited by Anthony J. Mireles - 2009/01/17 20:01:45
WillowRun
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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2009/01/17 21:59:21 (permalink)
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TonyM,  Thanks for the post!  I've also PM'ed you.  The  scanned newspaper article I had read mentioned that "unofficially it had been observed that small holes had been bored into the oil lines to all four engines.  The alleged perpetrators had been arrested at Willow Run."  As an aside, the first pic attached in my original post was taken in mid August 1942 at FO WR quite possibly part of the same storm cell that rolled through Hastings on that fateful weekend.

 
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Ford Willow Run B-24 Bomber Plant (FO) Historian
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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2009/01/19 10:07:44 (permalink)
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I  too have the OFFICIAL AAF REPORTS. It was war time and haste was the way of things. So I believe there is more to the story. The crash site is eight miles from Hastings where the fair was taking place and twelve miles from Custer Field at Battle Creek. Several eyewitnesses INCLUDING the Undersherrif observed the plane and heard the screeching engines as it circled the fair in progress. Now you want me to believe that this pilot 2nd Lt. Eugene C. King and his navigator after flying from Willow Run to Saginaw then to Muskegon and over Grand Rapids is going to mistake a little town like Hastings for Battle Creek?  Come on! I have been to and walked the crash site. I have copies of the original crash photos. If you have read the reports and all the correspondence from the files, why was so much going back and forth from Hap Arnold's office in Washinton. Now you may be right, but until I investigate a few more avenues I'm not ready to conceed to Pilot Error!!
I am waiting for some more reports from Maxwell AFB and a couple of other leads and will keep you posted to my findings. (And no I'm not a conspiracy nut).

My Regards

Dave Meek
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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2009/01/19 10:24:09 (permalink)
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A couple more things. The airfield at Battle Creek today is known as Kellogg Field. The OFFICIAL report states that the pilot may have done  this and might have done that and don't know if he did what. I see a lot of conjecture even from the official side.

If you will note the plane crashed about half way Battle Creek and Hastings on a straight line to the airfield and crashed toward Battle Creek. If the engines were siezing then the aircraft could only do one thing. . . . . come down. A B24 does not glide well because of the Davis Wing design. The pilot must have come below the clouds to find a place to land if the engines were losing power.

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Dave Meek
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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2009/01/19 10:45:08 (permalink)
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Add this! There were two other B24's On this training flight. they must have been in communication with each other. This was a fuel consumption run. The other two aircraft landed at Battle Creek the same evening. This squadron (90thBG/320thBS) was only at Willow Run for two weeks. The CO Major Marion Unruh (he was later interred by the Japanese after crashing his own B24) was working with C.A. Lindberg on the nose turret design for the B24 in the Ford Plant. After this they were deployed to the South Pacific.

Regards

Dave Meek
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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2009/01/19 11:23:11 (permalink)
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Dave,

I have studied thousands of WWII era Form No. 14 AAF accident reports in the course of writing my three-volume reference book treating stateside AAF accidents during the Second World War. 

First, Form No. 14 Accident Reports for all fatal accidents that occurred in the continental United States were reported to General Arnold's office.  So, nothing unusual there.  The fact that the Form 14 was not submitted on time was addressed in this report.  Most of the telegram/radio gram traffic found in this accident report is routine (page 21, 23-24, 26 --counted from the cover page).  The telephone call/transcript does stand out, but it offers nothing out of the ordinary. The more AAF accident reports that you look at, the more you will see that telegrams to Arnold's office concerning fatal accidents are routine business.   

Second, the undersheriff does not mention "screeching engines" in his statement on my microfilm of the report.  Testimony from civilians not familiar with aviation matters is highly suspect.  Time after time civilians have reported things to investigators that just turn out to be counter to the evidence; they just don't know or understand what they are looking at lots of times.  In my experience with these reports, which is considerable, I would go with the army every time. 

The best glide speed for a B-24 airplane in landing configuration, which this airpalne was in, is about 115 mph with power.  A power off glide is to be flown at 120 mph for a B-24 airplane.  Top speed in landing configuration should not exceed 150-155 mph.  As a pilot, I know that it takes very little time to fly eight miles; in fact, when I am just a thousand feet above my home field, I can see the Class D airport that is about seven miles from my airport.  When a pilot is flying at 120 mph, probably confused as he is poking around looking for a place to land in poor weather conditions, it is not too huge of a leap to see how he could have flown eight miles away from the place he was looking at.  Still not seeing anything that points to sabotage. 

In his memo dated August 21 to Colonel S.R. Harris (Director of Flying Safety--who also receives every Form 14 generated), Major George C. Price states: "Reference General Arnold's recent memo to you on the above and several additional accidents".  General Arnold is always kept informed about fatal accidents--see the phrase "several additional accidents."  In the same memo, Major Price states:  "From the investigation made by the accident committee, it seems that this accident was a case of one hundred percent pilot error."  This seems to be the conclusion reached by the committee throughout the report. 

Don't forget that these Form 14 Aircraft Accident reports were classified or restricted until 1996, so it is unlikely, in my opinion, that the AAF would have censored itself in its own report that was classified.  These reports were not made public or given to the media or any family members of the deceased, and in most cases they just did not see the light of day outside of the Director of Flying Safety's office or General Arnold's office. 

Since you have seen the accident report, please show me where in this official classifed report where exactly it states that this airplane was sabotaged or that oil lines were drilled out.  Newspaper reports of these WWII airplane crashes, although accurate when it comes to the location and names of personnel, are routinely wrong or inaccurate when it comes to cause of the crash in many cases.  And I have read thousands of these reports and compared them to the news articles when I could.  I see no evidence of sabotage in this report. 

There were at least 100 fatal AAF aircraft accidents just in August of 1942 (and a few hundred non fatal accidents in the same month); there were over 1,100 fatal AAF accidents in the US in all of 1942.  On August 14, 1942, there were six fatal AAF accidents in the US.  To further put this in context--there were nearly 2,300 fatal AAF accidents in the US during 1943.  During World War II, B-24 airplanes were involved in nearly 600 fatal accidents in the continental United States.  So, these accidents, sad to say, were a fact of life duing World War II.   

Tony

Anthony J. Mireles
Author
FATAL ARMY AIR FORCES AVIATION ACCIDENTS
IN THE UNITED STATES, 1941-1945
www.warbirdcrash.com

 
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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2009/01/19 11:42:17 (permalink)
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Tony,
I have the utmost respect for you and your books . I have read about this crash and several others in your WWll 1941-1945 edition. You have enlightened me with this information. I agree that civilians do not see or hear things that trained pilots or investigators do. I too am a pilot. I am only trying to find out if the allegation that there was sabotage and two people that were supposedly arrested is indeed true or false. I am not trying to prove that it did happen, I'm only investigating the incident. I am waiting for the daily squadron diaries from Maxwell AFB and one other source, then I'm thru with it. The newspaper article that mentioned the sabotage was written by someone I knew (a local historian), she is deceased but her information came from a local judge as near as I can find out. He is also deceased. I'm trying to locate her notes.

With Humble REPECT

Dave Meek
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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2009/01/19 11:44:13 (permalink)
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Dave,

Have you checked with FBI?

They likely would have investigated any report of sabotage.

Thanks for the support and good luck with your research.
Let us know what you discover.
 
TonyM.
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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2009/01/19 11:54:54 (permalink)
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Tony,
I made an initial inquiry a few years ago. But no, I did not follow up on it. But I will. Thank you. And I will let you know what I find out.

Respectfully

Dave Meek
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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2009/01/19 17:43:54 (permalink)
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Dave,   Good evening from AA!  Per this attached quote from one of your previous posts, I spent some time this afternoon revisiting sections of Charles A Lindbergh's, Wartime Journals"The CO Major Marion Unruh (he was later interred by the Japanese after crashing his own B24) was working with C.A. Lindbergh on the nose turret design for the B24 in the Ford Plant. After this they were deployed to the South Pacific."   Although I again found no "specific references to "sabotage," I did find, however, the following reference to the Hastings' crash which I must have missed on my 1st or 2nd pass.  Here it is dated Monday, 17AU42.  "Conference with Major Unruh in regard to the nose turret and about the B-24 which crashed Friday night near Battle Creek with the loss of the entire crew of 9 men. I found the pilot had been out of flying school for only a few months and had less than 500 hours' total flying time; yet he was captain of a four- engine bomber and sent out through a stormy night to carry out a practice mission!  What possible good can come from pushing men so fast?  First, this B-24 squadron is organized of young and inexperienced officers; then it is sent for training to a field with concrete runways uncompleted (WR); then it is ordered to be ready for the combat zone "in one month," untrained, unequipped, and without having a single round of .50 cal. ammunition with which to train its gunners."  This is the only reference I found here.  Based on this passage, logged the Monday after the incident, it would "seem that Lindbergh might already have been thinking about possible pilot error."  TonyM's research is pretty sound, so I am sure that the final parts of the puzzle you find will be very interesting!  Like you've posted also, those that could have (might have) helped us orally have passed on.  As an aside, I read a passage today in a book where it also mentioned training accidents in the United States alone in 1943 in which 850 airmen had been killed involving 298 A/C's of which a large proportion were B-24s.  Also, as I've mentioned before, that storm cell that was involved both at FO WR and in the Hastings area, may be the one referenced by Charles.   

 




 
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Steven P. Puhl
Ford Willow Run B-24 Bomber Plant (FO) Historian
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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2009/01/19 20:31:28 (permalink)
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Hi Steven,
I have the same C.A.L. quote in my notes from the book by Wiley O. Woods "The Legacy of the 90th". All these tidbits help to tie in the events of the day. As Tony M. suggested I will follow up with the FBI. I also have a query in to the historian at Fort Custer in Battle Creek, so will see how far that goes.

Can't tell you how much it means to have Tony Mireles critique my search. I am in awe of his research and knowledge of the crashes during WWll. The forward in his 1941-1945 book gives the numbers and it is staggering how many stateside crashes alone there were. Well I will keep you informed of what I dig up, regardless.

Much respect

Dave Meek
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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2009/01/20 12:36:41 (permalink)
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Thanks Dave. 

TonyM.
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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2013/10/31 12:49:54 (permalink)
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Reviving old thread. NEW photo found showing crash site. Looks like they just missed the barn!
photo from Battle Creek MI newspaper. I have a digital copy of the full accident report. 
DaveT

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WillowRun
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Re: B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2013/11/03 18:41:50 (permalink)
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David,  Thanks for posting the old article in Post # 14!  I must admit, there has not been anything new appearing recently concerning my query, so I do appreciate you "resurrecting" this older Thread with more info and the pic.

 
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Steven P. Puhl
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Re: B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2013/11/07 15:15:50 (permalink)
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Dear Sir ,
could you please help me.
I am looking for the : Form No. 14 AAF accident report for the B-24D "Jere Linda" crashed on the 4.Sept.1943 at take of on Craw Field - Port Lyautey-Morocco under pilot 1st.Ltd. John E. Kraybill .
I am following up the wereabouts of the plane.
Many thanks in advance
regards etc.
Michael Brand
 
WillowRun
During the past few months, I have been trying to put together some further information and details from the FO WR in regard to the alleged sabotage and subsequent crash of the A/C in question.  Another Site member has been doing long-term investigation and had sent me a newspaper article from which to glean initial facts.   I'll list what facts I have and see if anyone else has anything else to add.  Here is a section of the post from the Site Member on the incident from a local newspaper.  "I am still doing background research on the crash of B24-D S/N 41-11898 near Hastings, Michigan on 14 August 1942, again my specific  search is for information and/or confirmation of drilled oil lines to the engines and the subsequent arrest of the perpetrators."  The information that I have currently is as follows:
1.  B-24D-CO, 41-11898 is a San Diego built A/C prior to the use of "block" build sequencing.
2.  There were no B-24D's built at FO WR. The B-24E's  were all from42-6976 > 42-7464 & 42-7770 totalling 490 A/C's.  This represented 7 Eng. Blocks not including 42-7770.
3.  The 1st built FO WR A/C (.01) completed on 15MA42 from parts supplied by Consolidated and was more of a "hands-on-training/morale booster."
4.  The first of the actual FO WR B-24E's, A/C #1, was completed on the Assembly  Line on 10SE42 and accepted by the AAF on 30SE42.
5.  Charles A. Lindbergh was engaged by Henry Ford as an Engineering Consultant at FO WR on 23MR42 to assist in manufacturing "ramp-up" and engineeing changes that might be required. 
6.  The Hastings accident occurred on 14AU42 before actual FO WR production had completed its first "build line A/C."
7  There are no mentions of sabotage in Lindbergh's writings on FO WR nor within the limited writings available here.  This, however, does not preclude the possibility since here were "other issues" within the facility.  However, this seems that it could have been an "isolated incident" not related to "day-to-day" activities within the plant itself.
8.  CO A/C's were regular visitors to FO WR as Consolidated assisted Ford in getting more parts and ramped-up more readily.
 
Based on this information, would there be any other leads or ideas out there?  Any help would be appreciated!  For continuity to my History: Willow Run Liberators Thread, I am also posting this section there also.  Thanks!
 
 
 



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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2013/11/08 16:07:22 (permalink)
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DaveT
Reviving old thread. NEW photo found showing crash site. Looks like they just missed the barn!
photo from Battle Creek MI newspaper. I have a digital copy of the full accident report. 
DaveT
 
Hi Guys,
 
I also want to thank you for reviving this thread.  Battle Creek, MI is my home town and I don't ever
remember hearing of this crash.  I'm too young to be part of the WWII generation, (my Dad was a WWII
Army Veteran), but Kellogg Airport started me on my aviation career path, and I would have thought that
somewhere along the line I would have heard someone talk about this incident.  Out of curiosity, where
exactly did this aircraft come down?  From the descriptions in the previous postings it sounds like it was
near the town of Dowling, MI.  Is that the case?
 
Best regards.
Ron C.



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Re:B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2013/11/09 10:48:05 (permalink)
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location from the report is 6 mi S of Hastings, MI, on the Guy Schermehorn farm located along rural route #4, Hastings MI.
from an earlier post  Dave Meek has been there. 
I have a digital copy of the report, but I do not know the current location of the crash site.
DaveT 
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Re: B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2013/12/27 15:45:05 (permalink)
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Good day to you .
I wondered .why I never got any mail re . B-24 D ....I just saw the top line of that question and noted that they are not my "quotes".(Questions)
So I will type my lines again :
I am looking for the Form No. 14 AAf accident report for the CL of the "Jere Linda" ( S/N 4241173  -B-24D  Unit : 2nd A/S  Sqadr.-480th A/S group -Squadr. No: "Q" )  on  the Sept.04.43 on Craw Field - Port Lyautey-F.M. under pilot 1st.Lt.  John E. Kraybill .
Also looking for the MACR .
I am interested in the  whereabout of the 1st Lt. John E.Kraybill ,
and also for 1st. Lt. J.H.Darden  (ex pilot  "jere Linda"  at the sinking of german U-Boot u-232 ) Thank you all in advance,wishing you a Happy New Year
your etc.
Michael Brand
 
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Re: B-24D-CO, 41-11898: Crash, 14AU42 Hastings, MI 2013/12/27 18:08:51 (permalink)
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Michael
You should be posting your questions on the Jere Linda on this thread:
http://forum.armyairforces.com/FindPost/95419
 
It has been unlocked so you should be able to add to the thread.  I tried sending you a PM a few weeks ago but never got any response.   Are you set up to receive PMs?  I recently received a PM from Col Maxwell regarding the thread, so there still may be some interest.  I don't think there is a MACR for the Jere Linda, but there "may" be an accident report.  I am not actually sure what the serial number was, I note that 
http://www.b24bestweb.com/jerelinda.htm
does not show a serial number.  
42-41173  is shown here:
http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/src/AARmonthly/Sep1943O.htm
as making a crash landing on Sept 7, 1943 which is after the crash of the Jere Linda on Sept 4, 1943.  
 
You can try and contact a relative of Kraybill by going to this link:
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=56248294
and clicking the name "Gerald Kraybill",  who made the post.
John E Kraybill is buried in the North African Cemetery, Carthage Tunisia
 

John E. Kraybill

First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces

Service # O-726259

2nd Anti-Submarine Squadron

Entered the Service from: California
Died: 4-Sep-43
Buried at: Plot B Row 2 Grave 20
North Africa American Cemetery
Carthage, Tunisia
Awards: Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart
 
 
I believe this is J H Darden  (Captain James Howard Darden).  He is still listed MIA, his B-29  was lost 22 Dec 1944.
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=56128252
post edited by RSwank - 2013/12/27 19:00:40
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