2nd Lt. Roy Marion Pedersen, Jr., Navigator, Lonesome Lady
Few of the B-24 Pilots who flew in the Pacific Theater of Operations are with us any longer, but there is no doubt who they felt was the most important member of the crew. Without a competent navigator, hours-long oversea flights during the day or night could easily drift off course, leading to a failed mission or inability to return to the island of their mission departure. "Pete", as he was called by his pilot-in-command, Tom Cartwright, was 21 years of age when he navigated his crew on an unescorted trip across the Pacific to Hawaii, and then to the Island of Angaur of the Palau Group, in the Caroline Islands via brief stops at Johnston Island, the notorious but decimated Kwajalien, and Saipan in the Northern Marianas chain of islands.
Pedersen was last seen by Cartwright in the burning, smoke and hydraulic-fluid filled Lonesome Lady. The plane controls were ceasing to function, and Cartwright ordered Pedersen to follow the emergency bailout procedure to kick out the jammed bomb bay doors and bail out immediately, even though they were still above Honshu, mainland Japan, where there was no hope of being rescued by Allied forces. The Pedersen family was informed (in error) that Lt. Pedersen was killed by either an anti-aircraft shell or in a crash in Kyushu. After more than 40 years and numerous requests for information, the Cartwright finally learned in the 1990's from Shigeaki Mori that Pedersen had bailed out when ordered, much earlier than Co-pilot Looper and Pilot Cartwright. An autopsy report was obtained by Mori, and suggested that Pedersen's parachute did not fully deploy and he died on impact with the ground.. This information, as tragic as it was, was greatly appreciated by Cartwright.