HUNNELL, VERN HALLEY, Second Lieutenant, # 0-766833, USAAF

 

Vern H. Hunnell was born on 22 March 1921 in Sheridan, Sheridan Co., Wyoming, to Fred Lynn Hunnell (1893-1962) and Rubie Doris (Howard) Hunnell (1896-1992) (married in 1920, Sheriden, WY).

 

He registered for the WW II draft, resided at 1148 Emerson St., Sheridan, WY, a student at the University of Alabama, and described himself as 5’11”, 190 lbs, with brown hair and eyes. After enlisting in the USAAF, he completed flight instruction through advanced schools, was multi-engine rated, and flew the B-24 and the B-17. He earned his commission and pilot wings. He was sent overseas to India. On 27 November 1944, a B-29, # 42-24452, “Devil May Care,” assigned to 20th Air Force, 40th Bomb Group, 57th Bomb Squadron, and fourteen othe B-29s departed the airfield at Chakulia, India, on a bombing mission over Bangkok, Thailand (aka Siam). Last radio contact was at about 0649Z 130 miles south of Chittagong, India. The B-29s were deployed from Chakulia Army Air Force Base to attack the Bangsue Marshalling Yards of Bangkok, Thailand. Weak enemy fighter opposition was encountered. One enemy Zeke attacked the formation from straight ahead, damaging four B-29s. Thirteen planes returned safely to Chakulia and one, aircraft #452, proceeded to Chittagong (Bangladesh) after losing #4 engine. Leaving the primary target, the pilot of aircraft #452, Lt Carl E. Blackwell, radioed the formation commander that he had wounded personnel aboard due to the fighter attack and that he could not close his bomb bay doors. Enroute back to Chakulia, he asked permission to proceed to Chittagong. The formation commander asked if there were any major mechanical difficulties or shortage of gasoline and was assured there were none, that #452 had plenty of gas and that no escort was needed. Permission was given and #452 left the formation. It was lost and never located. He is remembered on the memorial wall of the missing in the Manila American Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines. A memorial marker was placed within the monument honoring his parents in the Sheridan Municipal Cemetery, Sheridan, Wyoming.