FRAZIER, JOHN BURKE, JR., Second Lieutenant, # 0-682171, USAAF


John B. Frazier, Jr, was born 6 March 1922 in Michigan to John B. Frazier (1888-1961) and Cecile M. (Dacon) Frazier (18951940) of Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Michigan. A brother was Robert James Frazier (1923-2014), who was in the U.S. Navy – a submariner; torpedoman 3rd Class (Petty Officer), served in the South Pacific. Both were Central High School graduates. He married Elizabeth Ann (Robertson) Kemman nee Frazier (1923-2004).


He enlisted in the USAAF on 9 July 1940 at Chanute Field, Illinois (later Chanute AFB). He was first trained as an enlisted B-24 aircraft mechanic (engineer). Trained as a navigator on the B-24 he earned his commission and wings at Hondo Field, Texas. On 25 January 1944, a B-24D, # 42-73242, “Haley’s Comet” (named after Lt Roger F. Haley) (converted to ferry passengers and cargo), departed Chabua, India, at 7:40 a.m., to fly to Kunming, China. It was assigned to the 425th Bomb Squadron of the 308th Bomb Group. At 10:45 a.m., over the Himalayas, the formation of five B-24Ds “was forced to break up due to extreme instrument weather conditions.” All five aircraft crashed; B-24D, # 41-23889, near Jorhat, India. Crews parachuted from two and a third, which crashed, had two survivors. The fourth and fifth, “Hot as Hell” and “Haley’s Comet,” disappeared, the crews presumed dead (Tara Copp, Stars & Stripes, 8 Apr 2016). Haley’s Comet was found eventually and remains recovered. The bomber was mentioned in China Up and Down by John T. Foster. He was first reported missing 23 December 1943 over China but he and the co-pilot, 2ndLt Gochnauer, walked into his base with other crewmen 15 days later. The others were scattered when they bailed out but all made it back safely. He was awarded the Air Medal. His remains were recovered from the crash site by Graves Registration (Mortuary Affairs) and eventually returned to the U.S. for burial on 1 May 1988 in the Fort Custer National Cemetery, Augusta, Michigan.