9 August 1942: Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2656, Chief Seattle from the Pacific Northwest, took off from 7 Mile Drome, an airfield near Port Moresby, Territory of Papua, New Guinea, on its first combat mission. This was a reconnaissance of Rabaul and Kavieng. Mission elapsed time, 8 hours, 40 minutes.
435th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), Fifth Air Force,
Sponsored by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper, citizens of Seattle contributed $230,535 in War Bonds to purchase the airplane. Delivered to USAAF by the Mayor of Seattle, Earl Milliken P.G. Johnson in a ceremony held 5 March 1942.
Flown by another crew, 41-2656 was shot down at 7:40 a.m., 14 August 1942, over the Solomon Sea by three Mitsubishi A6M3 Navy Type 0 Model 32 (Allied reporting name, “Hamp”) fighters of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Defensive fire from the bomber damaged at least one Zero, but it was able to return to its base.
The B-17E went down at sea. Its crew were listed as missing, presumed killed in action (KIA). They were 1st Lt. Wilson O. Cook, pilot; F/Sgt. George S. Andrews, co-pilot; 2nd Lt. Hubert S. Mobley, navigator; 2nd Lt. Joseph R. Cunningham, bombardier; SSGT Elwyn O Rahier, Engineer; SSGT John J. Dunbar, assistant engineer; T/Sgt. Irving W. Michael, radio operator; Cpl. Charles M. Hartman, asst. radio; Pvt. David B. Beattie, gunner; and Cpl. Richard K. Pastor, gunner.
© 2017, Bryan R. Swopesby