RICH, JOSEPH COAMO, Second Lieutenant, Service # 0-739054, U.S. Army Air Force
Joseph C. Rich was born 10 August 1915 in Portland, Maine, the third child to Joseph Benedict Rich (born Guisepie Riccio, Italy - 1881-1965) and Charlotte (Gamble-Burnard) Rich (1893-1977). He was survived by his sister, Helena M. Rich (1912-2001), his parents and two other siblings. He enlisted 8 December 1941 (a record reflects 16 March 1942) (enlisted service # 11067691). He married Bernice Regan in 1942 in Salina, Kansas.
He received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant and was trained as a navigator for the Consolidated Aviation B-24 Liberator. Sent overseas, he was assigned as he navigator of B-24D, Tail # 43-73245, permanently assigned to 9th Bombardment Squadron, 308th Bombardment Group, 14th Air Force (Gen. Chennault) in Yangkai, China, with temporary duty with the 7th Air Force, 373rd Bombardment Squadron, 308th Bombardment Group. 14th Air Force maintained its own administrative and persnnel records and the 9th Bombardment Squadron was sharing records with the 373rd. The bomber departed Pandaveswar, India, on a mission to bomb the Japanese in Rangoon, Burma, on 27 November 1943. The crew was comprised of command pilot, 1stLt Richard W. Meredith, 0-728902, pilot 2ndLt Thomas A. Stephens, 0-683542 (the records of the 308th Bomb Group did not reflect 2ndLt Stephens as a crew member), co-pilot 2ndLt Edward F. Ryan, bombardier 2ndLt Royal D. Butterfield, 0-728565, navigator 2ndLt Joseph C. Rich, 0-739054, engineer SSgt Thomas C. Smeal, 33253233, radio operator SSgt Ewell C. Temples, 34444337, asst. engineer Sgt Joseph C. McClung, 38288140, aeril radio operator SSgt Fred W. Hart, 32437482, gunner Sgt Charles E Pero, 12168305, and gunner Sgt John F. Cook, 19148135. All enisted men had a dual assignment as a gunner of a .50 caliber aircraft Browning machinegun.
The bomber was last sighted over the target with one engine afire and losing altitude. The following dispositions were noted in an attachment to the MACR:
Butterfield: Died in Rangoon Cantonment of beri-beri while POW on 24 June 1944
information received 5 July 1945
Hart: Reported by McClung to have been strafed by enemy while he was
McClung: Reported bomber crashed 150 miles Northwest of Rangoon. Two others and
McClung bailed out. Both died later in Rangoon prison.
Meredith: Reported KIA while parachuting from bomber - strafed in parachute -
report by McClung.
Rich: Died of dysentry while POW in Rangoon prison on 13 September 1944 per
evidence received on 5 July 1945.