crew was formed in Pyote, Texas. On Guam, they encountered the
usual problems on practice missions to Rota- engine troubles
and bomb-bay door malfunctions.
went fairly normal until their 6th mission- Yokohama. It was
a day raid so planes were in formation. Flak was intense and
it was then that this crew's problems began to happen. A large
hole was blown open just ahead of the tail position causing
them to lose control and fall out of their formation. By throttling
back engines 3 and 4, A/C Killpack and Pilot Neden managed to
get their B-29 partially turned toward home only to be attacked
by 12 Japanese fighters. The enemy was having a field day when
suddenly a buddy Superfort appeared on the scene and proceeded
to cover them.
limped out to sea, about 50 miles, and the crew bailed out.
The tail gunner, Myron Williams, had been seriously wounded,
so a rope was tied to his ripcord. But, it was to avail - the
chute failed to open and he was never seen again.
second crewmember to bailout was CFC gunner, Joseph "Pete" Miller.
Others followed including George Tilghman, Left Gunner, and
Flight Engineer, Fred Dunn, who who was the 8th man out. He
watched the stricken bomber disappeared out of sight, but he
never saw another chute. Airplane Commander Reece Killpack,
Pilot Joseph Neden, and Bombardier Harry Collins apparently
went down with their plane.
Dunn descended, he believed he was about to touch water and
slid out of his chute. Bad mistake, as his parachute drifted
away it took his life raft in the process and ripped half of
his Mae West. So for several hours Sgt. Dunn floated half submerged
with only a partially inflated life preserver. Fortuniately,
the "USS Dragonet" eventually came along and pulled him out
of the churning sea.
Miller and George Tilghman spent over 30 hours in the vast pacific
exposed to some real nasty weather. As daybreak neared, Miller
suddenly heard an aircraft but couldn't determine whose it was.
It circled again, and as it passed directly overhead he could
see it was a "Dumbo." Before bail out, Miller had hurriedly
slid a flashlight into his pocket and with this he flashed the
aircraft above. Immediately, a large searchlight scanned the
oceans and framed him in its beam. Later, Miller heard that
a Japanese boat situated between he and Tilghman had been sunk.
They both speculated if others of their crew were aboard that
vessel. The answer will never be known.
Dunn, George Tilghman and Joseph "Pete" Miller were all that
would return from that mission. They spent five days on duty
patrol and another eight days to reach Guam. After leaving patrol,
their sub stopped dead in the water to pick up some other rescued
airmen from another submarine. Suddenly, one of the vessel's
radar men sounded a warning - TORPEDO ! ! ! Fortunately, it
passed in front of them. When one of the crew was asked how
near it had come, his answer was "Five feet plus." The attitude
of the crew was - a miss is as good as a mile.
Miller returned to the 60th Squadron, he found that his clothes
were missing - later he got them back. It had been reported
that there were no survivors. Miller went on to fly as fill
in on three more missions. George Tilghman was assigned to another
crew and racked up another sixteen sorties. Fred Dunn also was
assigned to another crew (Replacement
Crew 52) and was in California at lead crew school when
the war ended. He had more than one trying experience when his
plane made a dead stick landing! There weren't many of these
successfully accomplished with a B-29. Fred's luck held out,
however, and there was no crash. In mid-September, Colonel Carpenter,
CO of the 60th Squadron called Miller to his office and asked
if he would like to return to stateside as scanner on baggage
B-29. Miller gave a quick yes, immediately packed, and left
the same day.