KING, ROBERT E., Sergeant, # 3301909, USAAF


Robert E. King was born on 14 September 1921 in McKeesport, Pennsylvania to Robert M. King (1894-    ) and Mary C. (Schrupp) King (1896-    ) (married 12 April 1917, Wellsburg, West Virginia). Siblings included Clarence Marion King (1918-    ), James Ronald King (1923-1995), and Doris J. King (1927-    ). He attended McKeesport High School


He enlisted in the USAAF on 1 September 1942. He was trained in the maintenance and operation of the radar equipment on the B-29 Superfortress. He was sent overseas, assigned to the 20th Air Force in India. He earned his crewman wings. On the day he died, he was the radar operator in the center compartment of the B-29. On 27 December 1944, a B-29, # 42-6343, assigned to 20th Air Force, 444th Bomb Group, 678th Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Dudhkundi, India, on a ferrying mission to Kwanghan, China. The B-29 was lost at about 0315 Zulu. Over Kwanghan at 13,000 feet altitude, 42-6343 was cleared to decend and to report its position every 2,000 feet. At 0310 Zulu, 42-6343 reported southeast of the airfield at 11,000 feet. The tower received no further contact. Chinese troops reported a crash about 25 miles northeast of the airfield. Air searches did not find it. A foot search early on 28 December 1944 located the crash at about the same position as the Chinese report. Chinese witnesses said the B-29 was spinning. It crashed in a small Chinese compound at the foot of a steep cliff. The B-29 was totally demolished and incendiary bombs exploded. The tail section was found ½ mile away. The remainder of the wreckage was in a small area. Nine bodies were recovered burned beyond recognition. Nothing could be found of the two other crewmen. Major Merrill F. Patrick, Operations Officer, 678th Bomb Squadron, speculated that the B-29 spun in from about 11,000 feet, the reason was unknown. The pilot had reported icing and mechanical problems may have distracted the pilot from IFR flight. The tail section separated in the tight spin. Six Chinese, three cows and one pig were killed on the ground. The highest elevation in the vicinity was less than 4,000 feet. The elevation at the crash scene was 2,500 feet, measured by an L-5 Sentinel. After recovery of unidentifiable remains in China and retrieval from burial in Hawaii, there was a two-casket group burial of the remains of 2Lt Albert N. Allen, 2Lt Bill Bryant, Capt. Judson C. Forbes, Sgt Richard F. Madje, 2Lt Robert D. Mathis, 2Lt William G. Patterson, and Sgt Frank W. Reed in the Keokuk National Cemetery, Keokuk, Lee Co., Iowa, on 16 August 1949 (Sec. D, Graves 81-82). After his remains were recovered from Japan, the remains were buried in the Chevra Bikur Cholim Cemetery, Phildelphia, Pennsylvania (Sec. 372, Grave 1). His remains were buried in the Mount Vernon Cemetery, Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, in 1948.