41-24698 (MACR 7179)
On 4 July 1944 a Curtiss C-46 Commando, # 41-24698, assigned to 10th Air Force, 1332 AAF Base Unit, Mohanbari, India, departed its airfield at Mohanbari, India, on a transport mission to Chenyi, China, through the Himalayan mountain range (the Hump), and crashed after departure clearance was given. Its crew was:
Pilot 2ndLt John D. Akers 0-737519 RTD
Co-Pilot 2ndLt Frederick M. Brownewell Jr. 0-469877 KIA
Radio Operator PFC Thomas L. Beveridge 131560256 RTD
Crew Chief Sgt Edward R. Cronk 12036938 RTD
The next-of-kin listed were:
Akers Jessie P. Akers, M, 825 Marshall Ave., Webster Grove, MO
Cronk George W. Cronk, F, 23 Grove Place, East Orange, NJ
Brownewell Frederick M. Brownewell, F, 2445 Elm Ave., Columbus, OH
A 10th Air Force search party reported: it was investigating wreckage at map coordinates NX 1552. The volunteer search party was 1 officer and 3 enlisted men: 2ndLt T.W. Westling, 2nd Troop Carrier Squadron, MSgt W.P. Minnear and SSgt E.E. Wilkins. It included TSgt M.T. Melum, a L-5 pilot of 2nd Troop Carrier Squadron. Eight natives were hired: 1 guide, 1 headman and 6 bearers. On 13 November 1944 the party left Maingkwan. On the 14th it reached a camp site, after cutting through jungle to a hill top, 3 miles at 220° from wreckage. A rescue aircraft made contact. On the 15th it reached a site ¾ mile at 120° from wreckage and was contacted by a rescue aircraft. On the 16th, it continued through jungle toward the wreckage. On the 17th, it took a rest day and was contacted by a rescue aircraft. On the 18th, it cut through the jungle and reached the wreckage at 1130 hrs, On 19 November, they flew to the Tingkawk airfield by Air Sea Rescue.
The wreckage is of 41-24698, located at NX 1552. It lies on its right side, heading 296°. No wings or engines were visible. It burned when it crashed. Gasoline drums exploded. The burned out cockpit was open to the jungle. The unburnt left engine was found 25 yards ahead of the fuselage. The landing gear was extended and the tires were still inflated. There was no evidence of structural failure. The tail assembly was slightly mutilated. In the left side of the cockpit, they found a .45 caliber M1911; in the radio compartment, they found 2 .45 cal. M1911s and a damaged Kodak camera. Bones were near the rear door, inside the fuselage, with officer’s collar insignia among the bones; also found false teeth plates, a Parker 51 pentop, a watch, and melted silver (likely pilot wings). Found parachute parts, a jungle knife & compass, and a ripcord buckle. No other bones found. The remains were buried. An embedded cross states “Unknown American, 17 November 1944,” signed by D.M. Westling, U.S. Army. All confidential matter and equipment was destroyed. They painted a large yellow X on a left wing part for I.D. from air. The IFF transmitter was intact and was destroyed with .45 cal. fire. They also found demolished B-25 wreckage nearby (# unk.) at 1030 hrs on 19 Nov. 1944. Three graves found, poorly marked. A dog tag read “Carr R. Burke, # 6290314, Margaret Burke, 409 Mearns St., Wilmington, OH.” Found 3 machineguns (Browning). Both engines were intact, about 140 yards apart. The crash cut through jungle for 500-600 yards. The left wing-tank burned. Wreckage scattered for 300 yards. One or more bombs exploded.