42-6264

 

On 20 August 1944, a B-29, # 42-6264, “O’Reilly’s Daughter,” of 20th Air Force, 468th Bomb Group, 792nd Bomb Squadron, Khargpur AAF, departed Pengshan, China, on a combat mission to bomb the steel works at Yawata, Japan. Last believed to be near the coast of China at 1930 hours. Likely lost due to mechanical difficulty with # 2 and # 3 engines. Lt.Col. Savoie was 792nd Bomb Squadron Commander. The crew:

 

                              Pilot                             Lt.Col. William F. Savoie                     0-24115           RTD

                              Co-Pilot                       1stLt Raymond K. Lutz                        0-464590         RTD

                              Navigator                    Capt. D. G. O’Brien (prom. to Major)  0-426919          RTD

                              Bombardier                  Capt. L. K. Wedel                                 0-726095         MIA/DED

                              Flight Engineer            1stLt Casimer F. Stelmach                    0-738739         RTD

                              Senior Gunner             SSgt Ernest John Brundage                   31258095        RTD

                              Radio Operator            TSgt Walter W. Alspaugh                     35402887        MIA/DED

                              Radar Operator            TSgt William A. Beckham                    20403054        MIA/DED

                              Left Gunner                 SSgt J. P. Meehan                                  35309815        POW/EUS

                              Right Gunner               SSgt Granville L. Adams                      33522614        MIA/DED

                              Tail Gunner                 TSgt Rollin B. Heffernan                       6999780          MIA/DED

                               RCM                            1stLt Robert C. Geyer                          0-855161         MIA/DED

 

Added to end of MACR: Due to darkness, it was impossible to see the missing men after they bailed out. It is not known whether their parachutes opened or not. The missing men bailed out over the China Sea at an altitude of 7,500 feet.

 

The B-29 crashed in the vicinity of Hu-To-Chen, Kiangao Province, China. Just after leaving the target, the # 2 engine began leaking oil and 50 miles from the coast of China, the # 2 engine ran away and could not be feathered. A fire came out of # 2engine and reached to the tail position was extinguished. The B-29 lost altitude to 12,000 feet and the # 2 propellar went out of control again. The bail out order was given. Everyone in the tail bailed out; no one saw the tail gunner bail out but, it is assumed he did. Up front, the bombardier, Capt. Wedel, the radar operator, TSgt Beckham, bailed out, but the remaining six crewmen stayed to try for land. Just after reaching land, the # 3 engine ran away but was feathered. Fire began in # 2 again, which made it necessary to abandon the aircraft. The remaining crew bailed out at about 7,000 feet. They later learned that SSgt Meehan, who was one of the last to jump, had been captured by enemy sympathizers and turned over to the Japanese. The B-29 crashed about 150 miles North of Shanghai, China, and about 40 miles West of the coast of China.