He registered for the WW II draft on 12 February 1943 and described himself as 5’11”, 155 lbs, with brown hair and eyes. He enlisted in the USAAF and started active duty on 30 June 1943 in Alabama. He was trained as an armorer and gunner (responsible for the maintenance of the weapons) on the B-25 Mitchell and earned his crewman 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 were 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 Crestwood Memorial Cemetery, East Gadsden, Alabama, on 27 July 1948.

 

His father was inducted in the U.S. Army on 4 September 1917 at Camp Pike, Etowah Co., Alabama during WW I. He died 26 October 1958 in Hokes Bluff, Etowah Co., Alabama, and was buried in the Crestwood Memorial Cemetery, East Gadsden, Alabama.

Louie Joe Barnes, father of Robert Edwin Barnes

MATHEWS, DONALD E., Corporal, # 39208439, USAAF

 

Donald E. Mathews was born on 18 January 1924 in Cakifornia to Jesse Earnest Mathews (1895-    ) (KS) and Myrtle (Lent) Mathews (1896-    ) (CA). Siblings included Chester Mathews (1921-    ) and Eugene Gordon Mathews (1927-2004).

 

He enlisted in the USAAF in Seattle, Washington, on 22 May 1943. He was trained as an armorer and gunner (responsible for the maintenance of the weapons) on the B-25 Mitchell and earned his crewman 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.