44-40588         B24


On 22 October 1944, a flight of B-24Js, including # 44-40588, # 44-40992, and # 44-70414, assigned to 10th Air Force, 7th Bomb Group, 493rd Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Pandaveswar, India, on a bombing mission over Moulmein, Burma. The bombers were hit by anti-aircraft fire, collided, and crashed, exploding. The crew of 44-40588, were:


                                              Pilot                             1stLt Donald E. Blair                          0-687465

                                              Co-Pilot                       2ndLt Adrian P. Payne                        0-760665

                                              Navigator                    2ndLt Paul R. Kuhns                           0-598305

                                              Bombardier                  2ndLt Nicholas Stumpf                       0-696525

                                              Engineer                      SSgt Everett F. Whitten                       11122053

                                              Radio Operator            PFC Leo E. Sorenson                          39554491

                                              Armorer-Gunner          Sgt Arthur A. Martin                           36163504

                                              “                                  SSgt Benjamin J. Cassmer                    32861099

                                              “                                  PFC Thomas F. McLean Jr                   7080086

                                              “                                  PFC Marlin E. Kinter                            13105871


Witnesses included 1stLt Donald M. Young, 0-743153, 2ndLt Kenneth A. Hill, 0-889347, and 1stLt Conley V. Hart, 0-674672. 2ndLt Hill reported: Five minutes after bombing the target at about 1202 hours, the formation was attacked by eight to twelve enemy fighters. He saw Oscars. Lt. Blair was in the # 2 position on the wing of Lt. Young. Maj. Jack Bradford, 0-424404 (OK), was in the # 4 position behind Lt. Young. 1stLt. Bodmer was in the # 3 position and Lt. Hill was in the # 5 position.


When the enemy fighters were sighted, the formation closed. On the 3rd or 4th pass by the enemy, Lt. Blair’s # 2 engine caught on fire. He pulled out slightly left and feathered the engine. The fire went out and Lt. Blair made a diving left turn into clouds. He was not seen afterwards. Five minutes later, Maj. Bradford appeared to be looking back to see what happened to the other bombers. He was flying a rough formation but none of his bomber’s movements were violent. His bomber descended slightly to the left. He pulled up just under Lt. Bodmer, who was flying to the front and left of him. As he pulled up, Lt. Bodmer climbed up and out. After Maj. Bradford moved back into position, Lt. Bodmer took his own position. Almost immediately, Maj. Bradford climbed under Lt. Bodmer, his left vertical stabilizer went into Lt. Bodmer’s bomb bay doors. It seemed the # 3 and # 4 propellars of Lt. Bodmer’s B-24 cut off the tail of Maj. Bradford’s B-24 at a point just behind the waist windows. Maj. Bradford’s B-24 climbed violently and fell into a spin. Lt. Bodmer’s B-24 lost a bomb bay door and fell off onto the right wing, did a half-turn-spin, then spiraled down. Both B-24s hit the water about 200 yards apart and exploded. No parachutes were seen. It was near Bilugynn Island, Bay of Martaban.