On 8 September 1944, a B-29, # 42-6234, “My Assam Dragon,” assigned to Dudhkundi, India, of the 20th Air Force, 444th Bomb Group, 679th Bomb Squadron, departed Kwanghan, China, airfield on a combat mission to Mukdon, Manchuria, was attacked by enemy fighters and damaged.
The retrieved crew included:
Pilot Capt. John Overton 0-360554
Co-Pilot 1stLt George A. Hanlon 0-808421
Radar Operator TSgt Oliver M. Hinsdell 19055196
Senior Gunner SSgt Jack McBride 35094108
Right Gunner TSgt Kenneth F. Landers 15335295
Left Gunner SSgt Joseph F. Gillen 32495447
Tail Gunner SSgt Roy N. Smith 14120022
The crew were mostly retrieved and returned to duty, except:
Navigator 2ndLt Stewart M. Moore 0-673863
Bombardier 1stLt Billy Y. McCrary 0-674696
Flight Engineer 1stLt Albert E. Porter 0-862431
Radio Operator TSgt John P. Smreck 15016176
The last sighting of the B-29 was by Capt. Robert H. Snyder, 0-434750, who reported that after bombs were dropped, 42-6234, peeled off to the left of the formation in a steep bank and lost about 6,000 feet altitude quickly. 42-6234 continued a left bank until on a heading for return to base. It held the heading but continued to lose altitude with a high air speed (about 280 MPH). Capt. Snyder watched them for about 30 minutes but lost them in the haze. Another B-29 reported a bomber 15 minutes later at 39º, 05’ North, 120º, 47’ East, on the same course, low and turning right toward shore.
SSgt Roy N. Smith reported he was tail gunner. They arrived on target at about 1200 hours and were attacked by fighters. There were several hits which caused the aircraft to depressurize and damaged the rudder cable. No one was wounded. With the rudder cable severed, they began to lose altitude over the Gulf of Chile. The pilot ordered the crew to prepare to bail out but that he was going to try to make land first. The pilot told the crew that 2ndLt Moore, 1stLt McCrary, 1stLt Porter and TSgt Smreck had bailed out without orders about 30 to 40 miles before they reached the coast. None had been wounded and were wearing “Mae West” life preservers.