B-24J S/N #44-40716, 7th U.S. Army Air Force, 494th Bombardment Group, 866th Bomber Squadron
On the 28 July mission to bomb the Japanese Battleship Haruna, the Taloa was flown by one of the original flight crews of the 494th Bombardment Group, Joseph Dubinsky's Crew #49. Before the Haruna mission, Joe Dubinsky's crew survived many dangerous combat missions over the Philippines and other islands, flying the B-24J 'Til Then. Dubinsky had become a close friend to the 866th Squadron leader, Emil Turek.
Taloa crew. In this undated photo, Joe Dubinsky's crew of the Taloa on 28 July, 1945, poses in front of the partially visible "nose art" of the Lonesome Lady.
Top row from left: 1st Lt. Joseph Dubinsky (Pilot), 1st Lt. Rudolph Flanagin (Co-pilot), 1st Lt. Lawrence Falls (Navigator), 1st Lt. Robert C. Johnston (Bombardier), T/Sgt. Walter Piskor
Bottom row from left, T/Sgt. David Bushfield, S/Sgt. Camillous Kirkpatrick, S/Sgt. Charles Baumgartner, S/Sgt. Charles Allison. Not shown are S/Sgt Julius Molnar (Tail Gunner) and observer Captain Donald F. Marvin. Photo: Courtesy of Mr. David H. Rogers.
Lt. Turek was Dubinsky's Squadron Leader, flying Lonesome Lady on 5 July, 1945. That was Turek's 30th combat mission, and the first B-24 raid on Japan from Okinawa on the main islands of Japan. The 494th Bombardment Group had arrived at the captured Yomitan (Yontan) Airfield in Okinawa in strength less than 24 hours earlier. The men were proud to have launched 48 planes in just 48 minutes. Turek was concerned when Dubinsky, flying S/N #980, aborted that mission due to a mechanical problem. Turek recorded that event on his Formation Sheet that day simply by marking Dubinsky's name out.
The original crew of the 494th BG usually assigned to Taloa was Donald Marvin's Crew #46. However, for the Haruna mission on 28 July, 1945, Marvin boarded with Dubinsky’s crew on the Taloa.
A long-told back-story is that Marvin was unassigned but flew the Haruna mission so that he would complete 40 combat missions. It was an honorable, but fateful, and unfortunate decision, since none of the men aboard Taloa returned from the mission. Although he missed one of his crew’s previous missions due to an injury while officiating a volleyball game back on Palau, Marvin knew that he was not required to fly another combat mission and was cleared to return stateside for furlough or reassignment with the rest of his crew. This widely told story that explains why Marvin was aboard Taloa conflicts with an account provided by Dubinsky’s (half-)brother, Branko Stupar to 494th Bombardment Group historian, Dave Rogers. Stupar was a US Navy Officer who was given permission to fly with on Taloa as an observer. According to Stupar, he showed up to the briefing for the Haruna mission, but was bumped off by Marvin. Marvin was asked by a flight surgeon to fly as a relief pilot to Dubinsky, because Dubinsky had been diagnoses with a heart defect. There is some circumstantial evidence to support this account: subsequent 866th Formation Sheets show that Marvin’s crew did, in fact, fly subsequent combat missions. The Missing Air Crew Report that was filed for Taloa records Marvin’s role was “Observer”. That may have been a designation carried over from Stupar’s designation that day, or perhaps it indicated that Marvin was observing Dubinsky.