Albert Joseph Dugas grave marker

NELSON, ROBERT KEITH, Second Lieutenant, # 0-782781, USAAF

 

Robert K. Nelson was born on 10 December 1920 in Los Angeles, California, to Walter William Nelson (1892-2001) and Freda Henrietta (Paulson) Nelson (1890-1986). A brother was William Curtis Nelson (1926-    ). He was married to Jean Carol (Bertelson) Nelson (1923-1984)   on 30 October 1943 in California. They had a son.

 

He registered for the WW II draft on 14 February 1942, resided at 5519 Ruthelen St., Los Angeles, CA, employed by the Consolidated Steel Corp., and described himself as 6’, 150 lbs, with blond hair and blue eyes. He enlisted in the USAAF in California on 8 October 1942. He completed flight instruction through advanced school on the B-25 Mitchell and earned his commission and pilot wings. He was sent overseas to India. On 10 February 1945, a B-25J, # 43-4086, assigned to 10th Air Force, 341st Bomb Group, 490th Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Warazup, Burma, on a bombing and strafing mission to Laihka. After completing its mission and as it was returning to base on one engine, it crashed in a ravine and the crew was killed; at about 1300 hours near 23º 18’ North & 97º 45’ East. It was last sighted by another B-25 crew which was flying with it as it struggled to return: 1stLt Maurice W. Graves, 0-789445, and 2ndLt William H. Dugan, 0-718895. 2ndLt William H. Dugan, 0-718895, reported: The B-25J lost an engine after the mission. As it flew back at low altitude, another B-25 accompanied it. Some puffs of smoke came off its good engine and they entered some small rain squalls and entered a valley. The stricken B-25 did not reappear. The accompanying B-25 circled and crew saw the B-25 on the ground in a shallow gulley. Two parachutes were about 75 yards away. They circled and did not see signs of life. They dropped food rations and made to photo runs (failed due to bad camera). Search and rescue was given the coordinates and they returned to base. The tail and radio section were damaged so badly no one could escape. The rear emergency escape hatch had been pulled and the hatch could not be found. Two bodies were found 200 yards from the crash with partially opened parachutes. The five man crew were buried in a common grave about 50’ from the crash. Five bodies were exhumed by Graves Registration, four identified by Capt. Frankburg by dental records and then sent to Myitkyina on a C-47 for burial. After recovery from India, his remains were buried in the Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 22 July 1949 (Sec. C22, Grave 12777).