39th Bomb Group (VH)

[Search Tip: Use " " for better search results ex. "John Q. Doe"; "City of ..."]
Kobler Crew
B-29 # 42-94079

While Crew 21 was recovering from its terrifying experience and awaiting a gunner to replace Harrison, the airplane commander passenger (Capt Cornelius W. Kobler) that had survived the ditching, took Crew 21's replacement aircraft, and his crew, on a mission. They never returned.

The approximate time of take-off of their plane was 7:00 PM 25 May 1945. The time they were over the target area, "Tokyo" was about 2:00 AM 26 May when the crew was lost. Source: "Butler Co Veterans of WWII" by Richard G. Curry

"On May 26th at night we were flying in over north Tokio (sic) on a mission. Comming (sic) in from Mount Fuji towards the Shiebea (sic) Peninsula when were caught in the searchlights. We kept comming (sic) in and dropped our bombs on the target. Soon after we were hit by flak in the right wing and # 3 engine had caught fire. Engine was feathered and the fire was put out. Soon after that # 2 engine was hit and on fire. Engineer tried to put it out but it kept burning beyond the firewall. Fire spread rapidly and the Cpt.'s manuvering (sic) around couldn't blow out the fire. Soon it had burned half the wing off and was getting near our center wing tank. The blister next to me was melting and the plane looked as if she would blow up right away. The Captain was planning on putting in Tokyo Bay and ditching it there. He gave us our choice weather(sic) to bailout or stay. The radioman was in the back with the gunners and no message was sent. I jumped out of the plane with the other gunners right behind me. Weather(sic) they ever jumped I'll never know. I was on fire and by the time I got it out, pulled my ripcord, I could see nothing of the plane. I landed safely in a tree and was picked up by the by the Japanese two nights later. I never did hear anything else about my crew.

Harry Slater

The above is the written account (shown as written) of Sgt Harry Slater, Jr., CFC Gunner on this crew in reference to a letter from Lt Col John J. Smith, Air Corps, Chief Notification Section, Personnel Services Division, AC/AS-1 Subject: Flight Officer Fred Graesslin dated 5 November 1945. This was included in the information provided by Jim Kasmarek.

Note: The following document is in PDF format it can be viewed and printed by using
To view MACR # 14511 & related documents click here
13 November 2002

The following comes from Ken Lummus who is the son of Capt Kobler who recent found our web site.

They were hit by anti-craft fire and eventually my dad said, "Bail out...we're going in." Only one man, Harry Slater, got out and spent the rest of the war in a concentration camp. My mom had heard one man survived but never found him. "About 6 years ago mom was reading the Reno papers about some speakers at a Memorial Day or Veterans Day gathering. This man described being the only survivor of a B 29 over Tokyo. It turned out to be Harry Slater. My mom and brother went to see him and learned quite a lot. He gave them some articles he'd writtem about the whole thing (never published). Evidently, he was a drifter and when I drove up to see him, he'd moved on and nobody knows where he is.

A wing burned off and the plane went into a spin. Harry was more or less thrown out the door. He saw the face of a dead Kamikaze pilot still in his plane which was stuck to the tail assembly.

The following was provided by Sparky Corradina of the 40th BG Association:

On 25-26 May 1945, B-29 (airframe number 42-94079, 314BW 39BG) crashed on the farm of Yabunodai, Maruya, Makida-village (now, Kisarazu-city), Kimitsu-county, Chiba-prefecture (One of the lost 26 aircrafts that participated in Tactical Mission 183, Target: Tokyo Urban Area).

This aircraft rammed with a Japanese fighter. 10 crew members including Aircraft Commander Kobler were killed on crash.

Sergeant Harry J. Slater was arrested, sent to Tokyo Military Police and came back to U.S. after the war.

With Cpl David R. Curry being listed "DED" (Declared Dead) further research turned up that the remains were crashed with the aircraft and it is supposed that the remains could not be indentified - this may explain why Curry is listed as "DED".

Stone Marker at Jefferson Barracks
National Cemetery, St Louis, MO.
Photo Source: Butler County Veterans of WWII by Richard G.Curry, cousin of David R. Curry, TG

According to information found on the web site the 9 of 10 men lost on the 26 May 1945 Tokyo Urban Area Mission are interned at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery St. Louis, Missouri. d. 05/26/1945, Plot: 78 0 978-980, bur. 03/23/1950

Note: The remains of the crew were originally buried by a Japanese farmer and were later transferred to the military cemetary at Yokahoma from where they were transferred to Jefferson Barracks.

Update: 20 Nov 2007 - Cpl George Winford Roberts' remains were returned to Newport, Arkansas where he was interred in the family plot at Sandhill Cemetery in Auvergne, AR. just a few miles south of Newport - Maj Matt May, USAF, great nephew of Cpl George W. Roberts.

Thanks to Jim Kasmarek for providing us with this information he found. While researching his father's childhood and WWII days, he was told that his father's childhood friend was Fred Graesslin, who served in the Pacific Theater, but had died during the war. Further, Graesslin's brother, who Jim had contacted was able to tell him that his bother (F/O Graesslin) served on a B-29 as a Navigator he believed. Upon further research in an effort to find out more about Graesslin for Karmarek's father he found there was a Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) #14511 and obtained it from the National Archives and found our web site as a result of an internet search.

The names of Kobler & his crew appear on the 39th Bomb Group Casualties List but until receiving this information it wasn't known by some they were all from the same crew.

Our thanks to Jim Kasmarek for this valuable piece of history. He can be contacted via email by clicking on his name.

Anyone with additional information regarding this crew please contact

61st Squadron Crew Index
Sources: MACR #14511 provided by James Kasmerk; Sparky Corradina, 40th BG Assoc.; Bob Graesslin;
"Butler Co Veterans of WWII" by Richard G. Curry, cousin of TG; Ken Lummus, son of Capt. Kobler, AC