45 flew 26 missions in a plane named the "City of Toledo".
Their missions were as normal as most missions flown in
B-29's. A burned out engine, the loss of two engines,
landing gear problems over Iwo Jima, electrical malfunctions
and gas shortages were the usual things.
had an unusual experience of being fired upon by the Japanese
fleet in the Inland Sea. The crews had just bombed an
oil refinery on Kyushu and were headed home. To the crew's
amazement the fleet was under them and firing with every
gun. The aircraft was hit several times with holes as
large as basketballs. The crew thought the Japanese believed
they were going to bomb the fleet.
45 did receive the Distinguished
Flying Cross as a crew, some members receiving it
the second time. They were awarded the Air
Medal 5 times.
Osaka mission of June 1 found 15 aircraft of the 39th
in the air. Air opposition was almost nil as the result
of a fighter escort by the VII Fighter Command from Iwo
Jima. Flak was neither too heavy nor too accurate although
two of our planes sustained battle damage from flak. One
plane was that of Captain Orr, P-30.
landfall that day, Orr and his crew had trouble with an
engine but refused to leave the mission. They continued
on to the target with the others. Just after bombs away,
a direct flak hit struck another engine and put it out
of commission. Just after land's end, the propeller broke
from the first troublesome engine and struck the fuselage
tearing a gaping hole in the plane. After flying several
hours, it was necessary for the entire crew to bail out.
They were able to give a fix of their position. The Navy
sent a sub immediately in search and a B-17 dropped a
Higgins lifeboat to the crew in the water soon after the
Robert Laack and his men took off to locate Crew
30's survivors the following day from Iwo Jima. The
weather closed in to such an extent that the entire search
mission, which lasted about ten hours, was flown on instruments
at altitudes varying from 100 to 500 feet. Laack's radio
operator made contact with the submarines in the area,
one of which was eventually directed to the survivors.
and his men were close to Sofu Gan Island, a rock jutting
straight up out of the ocean. Maps available did not show
its altitude so it was a dangerous obstruction. It could
be seen on radar and shortly thereafter an SOS was picked
up from the Higgins boat. Laach was at low altitude and
couldn't see a thing. He homed in on the SOS until the
signal would fade out, and he would circle in that area
until he could pick up the signal again. They would continue
this for several hours until they were sure of the correct
Lt. Edward Coon, Laack's radar observer, plotted the position
and the information was transmitted to the nearest sub.
They continued to circle the area until the men were safely
aboard the navy vessel. Although the elapsed time from
the first signal until the rescue was about four hours
and their plane was at extremely low altitudes, the men
in the Superfortress made no visual contract of the crew
they were instrumental in saving.
their expert work on this occasion, Captain Laack, his
radio operator Dunnett, his Navigator 2nd Lt. Wiley and
2nd Lt Edward Coon, Bombardier were all given the Distinguished
Flying Cross per General
Order 24 dated 6 August 1945.
45 also had an usual experience of being fired upon by
the Japanese fleet in the Inland Sea. The crew had
just bombed an oil refinery on Kyushu and were headed
home. To the crew's amazement the fleet was under
them and firing with every gun. The aircraft was hit several
times with holes as large as basketballs. The crew thought
the Japanese believed they were going to bomb the fleet.