KURTA, JOSEPH P., Technical Sergeant, # 35514251, USAAF

 

Joseph P. Kurta was born 21 September 1920 in Ohio to Joseph S. Kurta (1892-1957) (immigrated 1912) and Anna (Kradatus) Kurta (1897- ) (immigrated 1922). Siblings included William Joseph Kurta (1914-2001), Helen Kurta (1916-    ), Mary Kurta (1919-    ), Anna M. (Kurta) Yurco (1927-1990) and Dorothy (Kurta) Brizzi (1931-    ). The parents were born in Czechoslovakia.

 

Joseph P. Kurta enlisted on 30 September 1942 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was assigned to the 308th Bomb Group, the 425th Bomb Squadron, 14th Air Force, at Kunming, China. On 25 January 1944, a B-24D, # 42-73242, “Haley’s Comet” (named after Lt Roger F. Haley) (converted to ferry passengers and cargo), upon which TSgt Kurta was bombardier, departed Chabua, India, at 7:40 a.m., to fly to Kunming, China. It was assigned to the 425th Bomb Squadron of the 308th Bomb Group. At 10:45 a.m., over the Himalayas, the formation of five B-24Ds “was forced to break up due to extreme instrument weather conditions.” All five aircraft crashed; B-24D, # 41-23889, near Jorhat, India. Crews parachuted from two and a third, which crashed, had two survivors. The fourth and fifth, “Hot as Hell” and “Haley’s Comet,” disappeared, the crews presumed dead (Tara Copp, Stars & Stripes, 8 Apr 2016). Haley’s Comet was found eventually. The bomber was mentioned in China Up and Down by John T. Foster. A memorial marker was placed in the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. He was awarded an Air Medal.

HULL, WELLINGTON WILLARD, Technical Sergeant, # 19077752, USAAF

 

Wellington W. Hull was born 2 March 1920 in Cherokee, Iowa, to George Robert Hull (1877-1949) and Nellie June (Willman) Hull (1886-1965) (married 19 June 1913). Siblings included Andrew Woodrow Hull (1914-1997), George Roswell Hull (1917-1997), and Nellie Lucille (Hull) Alderman (1927-2018). His father was a Presbyterian Pastor. He attended Texas Christian University. His brother, Andrew Woodrow Hull, graduated from the State Normal & Industrial College, North Dakota, and the University of North Dakota; served as a Chief Warrant Officer, 1938 – 1971. His brother, George Roswell Hull, graduated from Moorhead State Teachers College served in WW II as well, a brevet Lieutenant Colonel (permanent rank of Major), U.S. Air Force (26 April 1942 to 26 July 1946).

 

He enlisted in the USAAF on 16 January 1942 in Los Angeles, California, with two years of college completed. He was assigned to the 308th Bomb Group, the 425th Bomb Squadron, 14th Air Force, at Kunming, China. On 25 January 1944, a B-24D, # 42-73242, “Haley’s Comet” (named after Lt Roger F. Haley) (converted to ferry passengers and cargo), upon which TSgt Hull was engineer, departed Chabua, India, at 7:40 a.m., to fly to Kunming, China. It was assigned to the 425th Bomb Squadron of the 308th Bomb Group. At 10:45 a.m., over the Himalayas, the formation of five B-24Ds “was forced to break up due to extreme instrument weather conditions.” All five aircraft crashed; B-24D, # 41-23889, near Jorhat, India. Crews parachuted from two and a third, which crashed, had two survivors. The fourth and fifth, “Hot as Hell” and “Haley’s Comet,” disappeared, the crews presumed dead (Tara Copp, Stars & Stripes, 8 Apr 2016). Haley’s Comet was found eventually. The bomber was mentioned in China Up and Down by John T. Foster. A memorial marker was placed in the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. He was awarded an Air Medal. The family placed a memorial marker in the Oak Hill Cemetery, Cherokee, Iowa, in 1947. Another is in the Fort William McKinley American Memorial Cemetery, Manila, Philippines.