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39th Bomb Group (VH)


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"City of Jackson"
"Black Sheep"
B-29# 42-65369
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Click Photo to Enlarge
Photo Courtesy of Charles A. Smith, Radar, P-44 - click photo to enlarge

crew34.jpg
Photo Courtesy of Richard Kelso, son in-law of Lt Col. James H. Thompson

Standing L to R:
2nd Lt Joseph R. Weider, Radar; 1st Lt Max A. Buettgenbach, Pilot; Capt John H. Pulley, AC; 1st Lt Herman O. Blohm,
Navigator; and 1st Lt John C. Harden, Bombardier.

Kneeling L to R:
Sgt Patrick F. Newman, LG; Sgt Emanuel Weiss, RO; F/O Morris E. Yancey, FE; Sgt Walter B. Scott, RG; Sgt Daniel D. Kerner, TG; and T/Sgt John J. Sedivy, Jr., CFC


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 Crew 34
Honor Roll 
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2nd Lt Joseph R. Weider
Radar Observer
June 1970 (SSDI)
M/Sgt Robert W. McKenzie
Crew Chief
03 December 1980
Capt John H. Pulley, Jr.
Airplane Commander
Feb 1982
T/Sgt John J. Sedivy, Jr.
CFC Gunner
17 Nov 1982 (SSDI)
Sgt Patrick F. Newman
Left Gunner
18 Nov 1990 (SSDI)
Sgt Daniel D. Kerner
Tail Gunner
13 July 1997 (SSDI)
1st Lt Herman O. Blohm
Navigator
8 May 2004
F/O Morris Yancey
Flight Engineer
25 July 2005
Sgt Kenneth J. Setzer
Airplane Power Plant Mech
3 May 2006

Updates:

13 Aug 2008: Added Profile for 1st Lt Max A. Buettgenbach, Pilot.

27 May 2007:
Added Weider, Sedivy, Newman and Kerner to Crew Honor Roll per findings in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).



This Smoky Hill trained crew made 31 combat missions and four of these were over Tokyo. Captain Pulley's crew attained 479 hours of combat time including the one that won them the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The men of the "Black Sheep" were on a daylight strike against Kushira airfield on Kyushu, Japan on April 28, 1945. Bombing their target with excellent results from an altitude of 17,000 feet, despite a hail of heavy anti-aircraft fire and closely pressed attacks from an estimated over thirty fighters, they beat off the aggressive assaults from another fifteen fighters as they withdrew from the target. Just south of the coast, they spotted a crippled B-29, one of its engines afire and the distressed bomber was under attack by a swarm of interceptors. With utter disregard for personal safety, they deliberately closed in and protected the plane from attacks as long as possible. The B-29 was P-26 under the control of Lt Orionchek. The two planes were about 90 miles off the coast when it became necessary for Orionchek to ditch. Crew 34 circled the area and counted 12 men in the water and getting into lifeboats. It was painful for P-31's AC Henry Snow (riding as an observer) to know his engineer, Sgt Beevers, was with the crew below. Beevers was an observer riding with the strickened plane in the water.

Crew 34 threw out all of their emergency equipment, radios, life rafts and food. Contact with the Super-Dumbo's in the area was made with a fix on stations in the Aleutians and Hawaii. The Dumbo calculated it would take 45 minutes before they could arrive and P-34 was only able to stay some 25 minutes because of their fuel supply. It was necessary to send in code due to the nearness to Japan and that used all of the available time. In order to gain more air time,the bay tank was ejected as well as ammo from all guns. When the plane landed at Iwo, fuel was completely gone.

It was late in the day when news of the downed crew was reported on Iwo. Three crews, Crew 21 (William Senger,AC), Crew 23 (Joe Semanek, AC) and Crew 28 (Charles Miller,AC) were sent out early the next day to locate P-26. After spotting a downed crew in a life boat and contact for rescue, the search was called off. When the rescued crew reported its identity, it was not that of P-26. Another search was made but nothing else was ever discovered about P-26 or the 12 men.

There were 21 Flight Engineers that had gone before a review board. This was to determine if they could be made Flight Officers. All were enlisted men with the rank of T/Sgt or M/Sgt. No one really knew what would eventually happen. We were discharged from the service of August 14 with the expectation of being sworn in on the 15th as officers.

We were called on to make a mission on the 14th and when we returned from Isezaki, we learned the war was over and the ceremony had been postponed. The ceremony was for the war's end and ours had been forgotten.

I have often wondered what would have happened had we not gotten back from the mission. Would our families have gotten our insurance? We were civilians flying this last mission of the war.

Several crews in our group that had the highest number of missions went to Saipan and were assigned to the 73rd Wing. This was so we could get home sooner. We were assigned a "war weary" B-29 to bring home. There were 21 men and gear aboard. On missions , we could not take off on a mission in excess of 137,000 lbs but we left Saipan weighing 145,000. We lost no. 2 engine on takeoff from Kwajelein heading for John Rogers Field. That meant that we were delayed by two days getting home by having to change an engine. It was not a total loss however, Danny Kaye and Lou Durouch were there as a two man USO show. They were great and knew how to entertain us.


Anyone with additional information about this combat crew or P-34's ground crew, please email updates@39th.org

61st Squadron Crew Index
Source: Morris Yancey, FE for the "History of the 39th Bomb Group