B-24 A/C 44-40716, 494th Bombardment Group, 866th Bomb Squadron, 7th US Army Air Force
For mission #138 of the 494th Bombardment Group, the Taloa was piloted by Joseph Dubinsky. The strike against the fast battleship Haruna was this crew's 39th combat mission; their 40th would allow them to return to a tour of duty in the United States, but that was not to be. The fate of these men was researched and reported by historian Shigeaki Mori. The Taloa was assigned to pilot Donald Marvin before or early in his assignment to the 494th BG. He made a remarkable decision to volunteer to fly as an observer on the Haruna mission, as told below.
November, 1944 – May, 1945 Combat Missions from Agaur
Like Emil Turek and Don Marvin, Joe Dubinsky was a pilot of one of the original crews of the 866th Squadron of the 494th Bombardment Group. Dubinsky's crew named their B-24J #44-40731 'Til Then. The men experienced several notable events during and between their combat missions. They were among the first 494th BG crews to fly a combat mission in November, 1944. They flew numerous bombing missions through the next February when the men were granted "10-day leave" in Sydney, Australia. When Marvin's crew returned to Anguar from Australia, Dubinsky (along with Turek) left for Sydney, and did not return until 25 March, a leave of 34 days, extended ~5 days due to "transportation problems". Rolf Slen reported that it was 30 day assigned leave. Perhaps as a result of the transportation problems, later crews were granted R&R leave to Hawaii rather than Sydney. In May, recorded one of the worst accidents on Angaur, the Co-pilot undershot the runway and crashed, likely as a result of mechanical error. Although none of the men were seriously injured, 'Til Then was destroyed. The Squadron reported that the aircraft landed short of the runway without stating the reason. Rolf Slen chuckled over the incident, and recalls being told that sparks flew all the way down the runway and that the story was that the Marines onboard for a joyride were so eager to disembark that they jumped out before the plane came to a stop. All the pilots involved continued to fly missions immediately after the incident, so it is unlikely that the crash was attributed to pilot error.
Omura, 5 July, 1945 – 494th Bombardment Group Mission #117
In Secret Operations Orders #138 from Maj. General Woods, Dubinsky, Marvin and Turek crews were chosen to fly for the 866th on the first B-24 mission to bomb Japan from Yontan Airfield in Okinawa. That mission was flown on 5 July, 1945, just 6 weeks before the war ended. The Group History notes that within 24 hours of landing on Okinawa in full force, 48 aircraft took off in just 48 minutes. Flying aircraft #980, Dubinsky was forced by a fuel leak to abort while on the way to Omura to bomb an alternate target, Kakeroma Shima (from 8400 feet).
Shanghai, 17 July, 1945 – 494th Bombardment Group Mission #123
As part of another first for the 494th Bombardment Group, Dubinsky, Marvin, and Tom Cartwright were among the 12 crews that made up the two 866th Squadrons to bomb China from Okinawa. Their target was the Chiang Wan aerodrome, where revetments housed war planes near Shanghai. Two B-24's were struck down by flak on that mission and the survivors relayed dramatic stories of rescue by Chinese guerrillas, a tragic gunfight, and capture. Flight crews were briefed that 1030 Allied and 900 U.S. POWs worked and were housed in the immediate area. They were given instructions to evade capture if possible, "blood chits" on which a request for assistance was written in several languages and identified the men as American, and Chinese currency. It was the first combat mission for 21-year-old Tom Cartwright and his crew.
Battleship Haruna, Kure (Etajima) 28 July, 1945 – 494th Bombardment Group Mission #138
The Haruna mission was the final mission for the Dubinsky and Cartwright crews. Their fates are told by Historian Shigeaki Mori in The Secret History of the American Soldiers Killed by the Atomic Bomb.
This map purports to indicate the position of the Taloa when last seen. The crash site, however, was to the west of Hiroshima (viz. Shigeaki Mori)
Note: the marker at Jefferson Barracks also uses "O" for the middle initial for Baumgartner. "Flanagin" is elsewhere incorrectly spelled “Flanagan” and his mother's first name should have been spelled "Verdea".. Johnston has been confused with another POW."
Julius Molnar is shown here, standing at far left. The online newspaper photo caption states that Baumgartner is 4th from left but misidentified in the photo.
Standing: S. Sgt. Julius Molnar, S. Sgt. Camillious Kirkpatrick, S. Sgt. Charles Allison, S. Sgt. Charles Baumgartner, T. Sgt. David Bushfield, T. Sgt. Walter Piskor
Kneeling: 1st Lt. Lawrence Falls?, 1st Lt. Rudolph Flanagin, 1st Lt. Joesph Dubinsky, 1st Lt. Robert C. Johnston? Photo source: Cleveland newspaper
Staff Sgt. Charles C. Baumgartner
b. 9 October, 1915, d. 6 August, 1945
Born in Sebring, Mahoning County, Ohio, Sgt. Baugartner was last seen by Lt. Tom Cartwright in the Kempetai Military Police Chugoku Headquarters in Hiroshima, Japan, on 30 August, 1945. He died in Hiroshima along with ~10 other American POWs. His remains were returned along with other American's and were buried at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in Lemay, Missouri.
Technical Sgt. David A. Bushfield
b. 29 July, 1921, Drafted 25 July, 1942, d. 28 July, 1945
Before the war, Sgt. Bushfield resided in Monroe County, New York. He died in the crash of the Taloa a day short of his 24th birthday. His mother, Agnes Bushfield resided in Rochester, New York.
1st Lt. Rudolph Flanagin s/n O-821250
b. 22 November, 1924, d. 28 July, 1945
Born in Texas (Denton?), his father, David, Sr., was a barber, his mother a homemaker, and his brother David, Jr. served
Technical Sgt. Walter Piskor
b. 11 Aug, 1918, d. 28 July, 1945
From Willimantic, Windham, CT, Piskor served as the Engineer on the Taloa. His occupation listed on the 1940 US Census was aircraft machinist.
Capt. Donald F. Marvin
b. 9 September, 1917, d. 28 July, 1945
The cheerful, buoyant, Don Marvin, one of the original pilots in the 494th Bombardment Group was the usual pilot of Taloa. By late July, 1945, his crew was credited with 40 combat missions and were eligible to rotate back to the U.S. mainland. However, Marvin missed a mission that was assigned to his crew back in Angaur after he was injured playing (officiating) volleyball. Despite being told that he was cleared to return with his crew to the United States without completing any additional combat missions, Marvin insisted on participating in all of his credited 40 missions. He chose the 28 July mission to fly aboard "his" Taloa as an observer. Lead Navigator for the 866th on that mission, Rolf Slen, wrote how surprised his squadron flight crew was when Marvin pitched his gear into the truck that would carry Joe Dubinsky's crew to Taloa for one last mission––the Haruna mission. It was a fateful decision. Capt. Marvin was one of the men who was unable to parachute from the Taloa before she crashed in Honshu, Japan, just west of Hiroshima.
In 1940, The U.S. Census listed Marvin as a Shearman at a Sheetmetal company near Cleveland, Ohio. His father, Charles, was born in Pennsylvania and resided in Cleveland, working as a taxi driver; his (remarried) mother, Laura Walsh, resided in the Geauga Lake area, today a suburb of Cleveland.
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