CBI World War II MIA and KIA in Crash of C-47B # 43-48308 17 May 1946

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The pictures and stories presented here are in honor of the heroes lost in the crash of the C-47B. Names are above pictures and information. Be patient as pictures and stories load. This page is weighted with graphics so will take longer to load. Let it load completely by watching the bottom frame of your browser and when it is done, then view the page.

Albinson, Norman, Sgt., U.S. Army.
 
Sgt Norman "Red" Albinson was a member of the 1st Commandos. He was born in 1922 to Norman and Alice Albinson, Camden, New Jersey. His sister, Bernice, had a daughter, Chris, who provided information on Sgt. Albinson.  Sgt. Albinson served with the 374th Bombardment Squadron, 308 Bombardment Group (also known as the Heavy Bomb Group). He was captured by the Japanese after his B-24 crashed and was imprisoned at the Rangoon Prison Camp, Burma. He dies there August 14th, 1944, from beri-beri, dysentery and malnutrition. His sister shared her loss and love of her brother many times with her daughter and Chris is a stauch supporter of the fight to have the crashed C-47B located and remains recovered.

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Aircrew of B-24 with Sgt Albinson

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Norman with Bernice, his sister

Rich, Joseph C., 2ndLt. . 
 
One of the strongest persons behind our drive for recovery of remains and locating the crashed C-47B is Lisa Phillips, the niece of Lt. Rich. Joseph C. Rich was the third child born to Joseph and Charlotte Rich of Portland, Maine. He enlisted December 8, 1941. He married Bernice Regan in 1942 in Salina, Kansas. Trained as a navigator, he received a commission as a Second Lieutenant and was assigned to a B-24 crew, the commander of which was Lt. Thomas Stephen. Other crew members were Lt. Edward F. Ryan (co-pilot), Lt. Royal D. Butterfield (bombadier), Sgt. Joseph C. McClung (engineer), Sgt Ewell C. Temples, (Asst. radio operator/gunner), Sgt Fred Hart (radio operator), SSgt Thomas Smeal (Asst. Eng./gunner), Sgt Charles Pero (gunner) and Sgt John F. Cook (gunner). The crew was assigned to the 308th Heavy Bomb Group, attached to 14th Air Force, China. The 308th comprised four squadrons: 373rd, 374th, 375th, and the 425th, all of which operated out of bases in western China.
Arriving in China, they were initially assigned to the 373rd Squadron in Yangkai. They were hardly settled when they were sent to India to assist repelling the advancing Japanese Army in Burma, specifically in the Rangoon area. The crew was assigned to a B-24 nicknamed "Maxwell House II," Tail no. 43-73245, senior pilot Lt. Richard Merideth, commanding.
On November 27, 1943, the Maxwell House II, along with 23 other B-24s, were sortied to bombthe Insein Work Shops, with secondary targets of Henzada, Thayetmye, and Akyab. Five turned back. Two aircraft were lost, including Maxwell House II and aircraft tail no. 42-73313, commanded by Lt. Kellam. The Maxwell House II suffered an engine shot out and on fire with Lt. Rich caught in the fire. Three of the crewmen perished that day: Pero, Smeal, and Ryan. The remainder bailed out. Five were shot and killed while still in the air in their parachutes: Hart, Merideth, Stephen, Temples, and Cook. Lt. Rich, Lt. Butterfield, and Sgt McClung were captured and imprisoned in the infamous Rangoon Prison Camp. Lt. Butterfield died of beri-beri June 24, 1944. Having received no medical care for his wounds, Lt. Rich recovered from the burns but subsequently died of beri-beri, dysentry, scabies, malnutrition, and physical abuse; at death weighing only 80 pounds. Before dying, he gave McClung his wedding band, which McClung hid and later returned to Captain Bernice Rich.
Lt. Rich was awarded the Purple Heart, Prisoner of War Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, the Honorable Service Lapel Button (WW II) and the Gold Star Lapel Button.
 

Portland, Maine, Press Herald

Sept 13, 1947

 

IN MEMORIAM

 

2nd.tLt.. JOSEPH C. RICH

 

Who passed away in Burma

Sept 13, 1944

If all the world was ours to give,

We'd give it, yes, and more

To see the face of our loved one

Come smiling through the door

Wife and Sisters.

Mother. Dad.

 

 

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Lt Joe Rich

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Baker, Burdette H., 2ndLt.
 
 

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Bodell, Edward R., TSgt.
 
Edward Bodell was one of several brothers who joined to fight the Japanese and the Germans. After his death in Burma and the death of another brother on active duty, his sole surviving brother, Lt. James Bodell, was reassigned to the United States for the duration of the war as the sole surviving son.  The Bodell family is one of those heroic families who gave the utmost for freedom. James had flown a transport carrying parachutists behind the lines during and after the D-Day invasion, June 6, 1944, and was one of those who had an opportunity to look down and see the thousands of ships crossing the channel. He ferried gliders and more men into Normandy and Holland.  James served in the 315th Troop Carrier Group of the 9th Air Force. The Bodell family has provided a news clipping concerning his MIA status and a copy of the letter informing them that, after recovery from Burma, their son's remains were lost in the C-47B crash. The article and letter are included here.
 

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Edward and James Bodell

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Bodell aircrew - Pilot - Kavanaugh

Briggs, Evertt E. Jr., 2ndLt
 

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1stLt Dutton, Donald C., U.S. Army, Graves Registration, formerly Combat Engineer

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1stLt Donald C. Dutton

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Lt Dutton with Rose

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Lt Dutton with mother, Mary Florence Dutton nee Hurt

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Donald and Rose Dutton

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Donald and Edward Dutton

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Don and friends

Dutton, Donald Clare "Curly", 1stLt, Graves Registration
 
Lt Dutton enlisted in the Army in 1942 and was first assigned to the Combat Engineers. He worked on the Ledo Road to its completion, connecting India to China. He received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant before shipping out from the U.S. as a combat engineer. After seeing many friends lost, he chose to stay in the Army and transferred to Graves Registration, Mortuary Affairs and Recovery Office. His dedication is professed in his personal letters home: he wanted to see as many American war dead returned home as possible. He worked in the CBI theatre of operations, recovering American war dead. He and Lt. Derbyshire were the 2 Graves Registration officers who had worked with enlisted crews to recover the 37 remains that were on the C-47B with them when it crashed. Some of the remains had come from the prisoner cemetary at Rangoon Prison Camps (of "Rats of Rangoon" fame). Others came from Siam (Thailand), Laos, Cambodia, Pacific islands, Malaysia, South French Indochina (the Saigon area of what is now Vietnam), and crash sites in China (one China American Volunteer Group member), and other burial sites in Burma. He left behind a twin brother William, and two brothers who also served, Barney (served with the infantry in Burma and South French Indochina) and Herman (served in the European theater). Another brother Edward, was the father of Walter Dutton, who is one of the persons pressing the campaign for recovery and discovery of information about everyone, live and deceased, lost on the aircraft. Ironically, Walter Dutton later served in combat in South Vietnam, within 3 miles of the Army camp at which his Uncle Barney had been stationed. Lt Curly Dutton was survived by a wife, Rose and a daughter, Linda Sue Dutton. Walter and Linda have recently enjoyed meeting and shared family history and stories.

Liston, Charles B., 1stLt
 
Lt "Shorty" Liston was awarded the Purple Heart, Prisoner of War Medal, the Pacific-Asiatic Campaign Medals, and the Air Medal. He was commissioned and served as a glider pilot in the CBI theater.  Shorty was born near Cumberland, Iowa, August 16, 1909. He was the third child born to C.R. and Margaret Bourck Liston. Margaret passed away while giving birth to Shorty. C.R. remarried in 1913 and the couple had five more children.
Shorty learned to fly in the barn-storming 1930s! He once flew an airplane to the family farm in Iowa, landing it in the pasture. Then he took all volunteers on an airplane ride. He later moved to California and enlisted in the Army in 1941. He completed basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. He graduated from Airplane Mechanics school at Williams Field, Higley Arizona (now Williams AFB, Phoenix, AZ) on March 13, 1942. He continued to pursue his love of flying and entered Glider School. He graduated at Victorville, CA (Class 43-2) on Jan. 15, 1943. He was assigned to Bowman Field, Kentucky in July, 1943, then was selected for Project Nine, training at Bowman Field until late September. Their next stop was Seymour=Johnson Field, No. Carolina (now Seymour-Johnson AFB). He shipped out to India in November, 1943. He was assigned to the 5318th Provisional Unit (later renamed the 1st Air Commando Group) and was scheduled to take part in Operation Thursday (see description of operation in aircraft link). This operation was designed to fly heavily loaded gliders to two different spots 150 miles behind Japanese lines. The operation is discussed in the book, American Guerilla, by O.S.S. Agent Roger Hilsman.  Shorty's glider was near the front of of the launching force and was flying in double tow position. His glider was overloaded with Chindits and equipment destined for the O.S.S. His tow rope snapped while enroute. His glider crashed into the jungle near the Chindwin River. He sustained some injuries in the crash and was captured by the Japanese. He sustained further injuries while being transported and he died a POW on April 2, 1944. His remains were recovered at the Rangoon Prison Cantonment Cemetary. He was on the missing C-47B when it crashed near the Bay of Bengal.

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In the family gravesite, this honorary stone tells the remains were never brought home.

Gabbart, Horace, 1stLt

Horace Joe Gabbart was born on 16 October 1922 , the second son of Edward and Marie  Gabbart.  His father died in an oil derrick accident when Joe was about three years old.  Joe lived most of his childhood with his uncle, Frederick Gabbart, and family in Daisy, Oklahoma, and then Hartshorne, Oklahoma.  Joe graduated from Hartshorne High School in 1940. 

 

Within days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Joe enlisted in the Army Air Corps.  He served with the Air Transport Command whose mission was airlifting supplies and men within the China-Burma-India theatre, or “over the Hump” (Himalayas).

 

After the war was over, Joe volunteered to stay on after he could have been rotated home and out of the military.  His brother, Bob, said “Joe thought it was his duty to stay on and do his part to get as many of ‘our men’ home as he could.” 

 

1st Lt. Horace Joe Gabbart was the pilot on C47-B #43-48308 which crashed while ferrying Graves Registration personnel and war remains from Rangoon, Burma to Barrackpore Air Base, India, on 16 May 1946.  My grandmother was told at that time that “his plane was lost over the Bay of Bengal”.

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1stLt Horace J. Gabbart

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Goodrich, Burdette C., 1stLt.

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Twin Dragons Squadron
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459th Fighter Squadron

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A Twin Dragon P-38

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P38H in Burma flight

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Burdett in Burma

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459th F.S. USAAF Memorial

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Lt Burdett Goodrich giving briefing

1stLt Burdett C. Goodrich was a fighter pilot, USAAF. He was an ace with five and one-half kills. In the CBI theater of operations, he flew a P-38H Lightening while a member of the 459th Fighter Squadron, the Twin Dragons, of the 10th Air Force. The Twin Dragons were independently assigned to 10th AF and did not fall under the command of a wing or group except very briefly late in the war (the 80th Fighter Group - the Burma Banshees). Burdett was on a mission with several other Twin Dragons when he had engine trouble and crash landed in the Yaw River dry river bed 6 June 1944. Despite contrary reports, it is believed he was seen by another pilot running away from the crash site, which would undoubtedly attract the enemy. He was captured by the Japanese and imprisoned at Rangoon Prison Camp. He died there 24 February, 1945 and was buried in the Rangoon Cantonment Cemetery.  Cause of death is questionable but, reports show that he suffered from berry-berry, dysentery, and malnutrition. While records are being sought, it is known he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and other medals and awards. The P-38H carried four .50 caliber machine guns and one .20 mm cannon. Its maximum speed was 414 MPH, cruised at 275 MPH, and had a service ceiling of 40,000 feet. It was a formidable fighter also used extensively in Europe and the Pacific as a guide for bombers.

 

 

Lt.Col. Everett C. Plummer

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Everett Plummer

1st.Lt. Melvin L. Power, co-pilot of the C-47B

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1stLt Melvin L. Power

Yackie, Julius "Duley" F., Corporal, US Army, 1st Air Commando
 
The Taylor family (Cindy Taylor, grand niece of Cpl. Yackie) informs us that her uncle was in 1st Air Commando and is mentioned in a book titled "Any Place Any Time Anywhere," by Wagner. He is apparently named on the memorial plaque for 1st Air Commando at Hurlburt Field, the home of the U.S.A.F. Special Operations. Further information is forthcoming.

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