39th Bomb Group (VH)

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This Air Force Life Jacket was worn by left scanner/gunner Sgt Robert P. Harrison. He was badly injured when Crew 21 ditched after a raid on Nagoya, May 1945. Our aircraft was hit by flak that took out the number one engine. The USS Doherty, a destroyer escort, picked us up. Peter Nelson, a pharmacist's mate aboard the Doherty took the life jacket home with him to Minnesota where he became a medical doctor. He loved to fish and one day when he was fishing alone, his canoe tipped over and he used this life jacket to keep him afloat until rescued. Thus this Air Force life jacket saved two lives many years apart. It would still work with new CO cartridges.

At the reunion of the Doherty Crew in May of 2001 the men of the Doherty gave me this life vest along with a plaque giving an account of how crew 21 survived until rescued by the Doherty. The inscription on the plaque reads:

REUNION 5/6 to 5/9 2001

This memento was presented to Mr. Edward L. Bates and Dr. Victor R. Durrance
by the crew of the U.S.S. Doherty in honor of the rescue of the crew of the B-29
"Two Passes and a Crap" in the South Pacific on May 14, 1945. The B-29 had been badly damaged on a bombing mission over Japan and had to be ditched. Two Airman were killed and eleven men were rescued by the U.S.S. Doherty.
Lt. Bates and Sgt. Durrance were awarded the "Soldier's Medal" for heroism
displayed in enemy waters and were instrumental in getting members of their
downed crew into life rafts, tending the injured and enabling their crew mates
to endure the long night of violent rainstorms and heavy seas.

61st Squadron Crew Index
Source: Vic Durrance, TG, P-21