1stLt Schwarz reported: While circling the Lashio target area, he saw a B-25 make its bomb run on the bridge. A few seconds later a second ship made its bomb run. The second B-25 came in very low and flat. As the second B-25 got to the bridge, the bombs from the first B-25 exploded and the second B-25 flew right through the explosions. The second ship was obscured from his vision for less than a second. When he emerged, the B-25 seemed to be wallowing as it gained altitude. Then the B-25 rolled over on its back and went straight into the ground about 150 yards from the bridge. It exploded on impact and burned. It was still burning as the rest of the B-25s departed the target area about fifteen minutes later.

 

JOHNSON, WILLARD OWEN, First Lieutenant, # 0-731921, USAAF

 

Willard O. Johnson was born on 21 May 1921, in Sebeka, Wadena County, Minnesota, to Alfred W. Johnson (1878-1946) and Emma (Colby) Johnson (1893-1991). Siblings included Bert C. Johnson (1918-    ), Robert Ross Johnson (1919-1974), Alfred Douglas Johnson (1923-2000), Philip Johnson (1931-    ), and Mitchel Johnson (1934-    ). His fathe was born in Sweden and his mother in Illinois.

 

He enlisted in Bemidji, Minnesota, on 10 February 1941. He completed his flight training and was rated for multi-engine aircraft. He earned his commission and wings. He was assigned bombing missions during the South Pacific island hopping campaign. On 27 October 1944, a 10th Air Force B-25H, # 43-4382, assigned to the 341st Bomb Group, 490th Bomb Squadron, departed the air base at Morox, Assam Pradish, India. 1stLt Johnson was the pilot. On a bomb-strafe-reconnaissance mission to the enemy held Lashio Road, Burma. It was seen to crash due to a bomb blast or attack by enemy fighter at low altitude. The crew was killed. After recovery by a Graves Registration team, his remains were buried in the Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 18 January 1949 (Section C, Block 22, Grave 12697).

 

1stLt Johnson had provided witness statement to two previous B-25 crashes during the island hopping campaign: B-25, # 4-64563 and B-25, # 42-64570. On the Solomon Islands, he was decorated by Brigadier General William D. Rose (official USAAF photograph).