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39th Bomb Group (VH)


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"Tian Long"
("Sky Dragon")
B-29 # 42-65362
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Courtesy of Rick Paquette, Son of Airplane Commander

Capt Richard E. Paquette Airplane Commander
1st Lt Joe B. Medina Pilot
1st Lt Jack B. Covington Navigator
2nd Lt Gerald M. Levinson Radar Observer
1st Lt Robert C. Morton* Bombardier
1st Lt Leon Tomberg* Replacement Bombardier
1st Lt William Reith Flight Engineer 
S/Sgt Robert J. Sabol Radio Operator
Sgt Milton F. Haines CFC Gunner
Sgt Lloyd R. Hill **- POW Right Gunner
Sgt Sherwood C. Kiernan**- POW Left Gunner
Corp Lewis Howard ***  Tail Gunner
Cpl David W. Barr *** Temp Tail Gunner

Click on the names above to learn more about the men

 Crew 52
Honor Roll 
Capt Richard E. Paquette
Airplane Commander
MIA: 24 May 1945
1st Lt Joe B. Medina
Pilot
MIA: 24 May 1945
1st Lt Jack B. Covington
Navigator
MIA: 24 May 1945
1st Lt Leon Tomberg
Bombardier - replacement
MIA: 24 May 1945
2nd Lt Gerald M. Levinson
Radar Observer
MIA: 24 May 1945
1st Lt William A. Reith
Flight Engineer
MIA: 24 May 1945
S/Sgt Robert J. Sabol
Radio Operator
MIA: 24 May 1945
Sgt MIlton F. Haines
CFC Gunner
MIA: 24 May 1945
Cpl David W. Barr
Tail Gunner - replacement
MIA: 24 May 1945
Sgt Sherwood C. Kiernan
Right Gunner
July 1980
1st Lt Robert C. Morton
Bombardier - injuried 14 May mission
September 1983
S/Sgt Lewis E. Howard
Tail Gunner
14 June 2007

The status of Lloyd R. Hill, Left Gunner is unknown

On May 24, the 39th flew its first of the devastating fire raids on Tokyo.  By One AM, dozens of fires lit up the skies and huge billows of smoke shrouded the city.  The pathfinders had gone over the city to light the way.  The main bombing force had just started dropping and smoke columns were rising to over 10,000 feet already   Twelve of the 34 planes bombed visually, the rest, by radar. 

Flak, searchlights, and several "fire-balls" plus the thermal currents made it a living hell. Frantic "May Day" calls from crippled B-29s filled the air waves. Many would be forced to ditch or abandon their planes.

The toll in B-29 losses was the heaviest to date. Twenty-six Superforts went down and at least eighty others received some degree of damage.  Captain Paquette and his crew were one of those twenty-six lost that night.



Update:

15 July 2009
Added: MACR 14490 to section. This report is a PDF file. It can be viewed by using a PDF view software. Adobe's Acrobat Reader can be downloaded for free from adobe.com or click

01 February 2008

Added: list of missions for Crew 52 (Paquette Crew)

8 December 2005

While searching the WWII Memorial Registry for the names of the men of this crew in an attempt to find POC with family members - an entry for S/Sgt Robert J. Sabol was found - made by his sisters - states the Sabol was lost on his 9th mission. No names of family making the entry were indicated.

Also - DFC's were listed for Paquette, AC; Covington, Bombardier and Levinson, Radar by the American Battle Monuments Commission's Tablets of the Missing database. The circumstances of the award of this DFC are unknown. If you have a copy of the Distinguished Flying Cross orders covering these men .. we would be interested in obtaining a copy.

Some interesting questions come to mind:
*According to the 39th Bomb Group Casualties list, 1st Lt Robert C. Morton is listed as seriously wounded in action.  Ralph Weston, Crew 47, wrote that Morton had been wounded by a 20MM phosphorous shell on the 14 May mission to Nagoya. He was the "lucky" one because of the wound, he did not perish with Capt Paquette and the others May 24, 1945
Who was the bombardier?
Update: August 2001 -
per phone conversation with Lewis Howard, August 2001 - Morton being wounded was further confirmed: He was dropped off at Iwo Jima.  Based on information found in the American Battle Monument Commission's online WWII War Dead Honor Roll database; 1st Lt. Leon Tomberg, who is listed as bombardier on Crew 50 (lost 27 April 1945) is listed as MIA on the 24 May 1945 (same as this crew). Crew photos are courtesy of Rick Paquette, son of Capt. Paquette - Tomberg's photo was included.
** Lloyd R. Hill and Sherwood C. Kiernan became POW’s and returned after the conclusion of the war. 
***  Corp Lewis was on sick call during this mission. Sgt Henry Matthaus of P-44 is said to have gone with P-52 that mission, however according to Crew 44 accounts Mathaus was killed by a direct hit to the tail gunner compartment of P-44's aircraft. Later Lewis ended up on P-44.
Who was the tail gunner on this mission?
Update: August 2001 - Based on information found in the American Battle Monument Commission's online WWII War Dead Honor Roll database; Cpl David W. Barr is listed as MIA on the 24 May 1945 (same as this crew). Crew photos are courtesy of Rick Paquette, son of Capt. Paquette - Barr's photo was included; David W. Barr is listed on the Casualties List of the Group.
If anyone has any information regarding the nose art that was on P-52 please contact Rick Paquette, Son of Airplane Commander, at paquett@hughes.net
If anyone has any further info regarding this crew please email updates@39th.org

Source: "History of the 39th Bomb Group"; American Battle Monument Commission's web site