|Birth: ||Feb. 18, 1918|
Los Angeles County
|Death: ||Jul. 6, 1943|
Santa Barbara County
1st LT, US ARMY AIR FORCES WORLD WAR II
34th BG, 7th B Sq
Command Pilot, Salinas Air Base, CA
He was born in Los Angeles, CA, the third of three children of Charles Hix Thornburg and Dorothy Eloise (Brown) Thornburg.
He successfully bailed out of B-24E #42-7119 that crashed due to mechanical failure over Weed, Siskiyou Co, CA on 10 June 1943. The crew members were~
2nd LT Alfred J Demeusy, ASN O-794542, Pilot, from Oakdale NY, Bailed Out
FO George F Churchwell, Jr, ASN T-60915, CoPilot, from Leakesville MS, DNB
1st LT Douglas J Thornburg, ASN O-439091, Instructor Pilot, from Casa Grande AZ, Bailed Out
2nd LT George H Clarke, ASN O-798071, Navigator, from Cooperstown NY, DNB
2nd LT Charles L Wiest, ASN O-736742, Bombardier, from Baltimore MD, Bailed Out
SSGT Willet F Draker, ASN 35329411, Engineer, from Ft Wayne IN, DNB
SSGT William W Powell, Jr, ASN 18117310, Engineer, from Houston TX, DNB
SSGT Alvin Dschaak, ASN 39610191, Radio Operator, from Beulah ND, Bailed Out
SSGT Alonzia E Johnston, Jr, ASN 15323452, Gunner, from Canton OH, DNB
SSGT John F Kennedy, ASN 15333120, Gunner, from Peru IN, DNB
Lt Thornburg died three weeks later on 06 Jul 1943 while on a search and rescue mission on B-24E #42-7160 that was following B-24E #42-7011 'The Eddie Rickenbacker', Major Thorel 'Skip' Johnson's Crew, on a search and rescue mission for two that had bailed out over the Pacific Ocean. Their ship had been using fuel at an excessive rate prior to losing two engines over the Pacific off the coast of Santa Barbara. Pilot Johnson ordered the crew into their parachutes and turned the plane around, heading back towards Santa Barbara. Two airmen, Dannhardt and Prosser, not knowing they were still over the Pacific, bailed out prior to the Pilot giving the order and thus were lost at sea. The remaining eight crewmen bailed out safely once the plane had reached land over the mountains. The unmanned plane crashed 10 miles north of Santa Barbara on 04 July 1943. The Command Pilot of B-24E #42-7160, Lieutenant Douglas J Thornburg, was one of four survivors who bailed out of B-24E #42-7119 that crashed three weeks earlier. B-24E #42-7160 descended in heavy developing fog to take a closer look, and crashed head-on into Green Mountain on San Miguel Island, one of the three Channel Islands. A search was then initiated for this plane once it was known that they had lost contact. Eventually the search was called off and it was thought that the plane must have ditched in the Pacific. The following March, a Shepherder named Robert Brooks, one of only two people living on San Miguel Island at the time, found the plane and the remains of the twelve airmen on 800-foot Green Mountain. The plane and crew had crashed at approximately the 500-foot elevation. In 1954, additional crew remains were reported, and the Coast Guard Cutter 'Morris' was dispatched, however, it collided with the yacht 'Aloha', resulting in two civilian casualties. After this, the military began using the crash site for target practice.
This aircraft wreck was more recently visited and documented by aviation historian and wreckfinder G Pat Macha of www.aircraftwrecks.com. The crew members lost were~
Lt Douglas J Thornburg, ASN O-439091, Command Pilot, from Casa Grande, AZ
FO Vernon Clarke Stevens, ASN T-000376, Pilot, from Cedar Rapids, IA
2nd Lt Floyd P Hart, ASN O-801277, CoPilot, from Bakersfield, CA
2nd Lt Bose Gorman, Jr, ASN O-801453, Navigator, from Winnsboro, TX
2nd Lt Justin M Marshall, ASN O-729643, Instructor Navigator, from Joplin, MO
2nd Lt Noah H Yost, ASN O-736746, Bombardier, from Sacramento, CA
SSgt Bernard Littman, ASN 33283227, Flight Engineer, from Pittsburgh, PA
SSgt Ralph S Masterson, Jr, ASN 18043151, Flight Engineer, from Voth, TX
SSgt Lyle L Frost, ASN 16093784, Radio Operator, from Beulah, WI
SSgt Walter P Eisenbarth, ASN 37312876, Gunner, from Hazelton, ND
SSgt Lee E Salzer, ASN 13108684, Gunner, from Pittsburg, PA
SSgt Henry L Bair, ASN 33292071, Radio Operator, from LaTrobe PA
Major Thorel 'Skip' Johnson and crew named their next plane, B-24D #42-40837 ‘Bob ‘N Pete' after Robert Prosser and Peter Dannhardt, the two crew members that were lost at sea. The crew had been re-assigned to the 14th Air Force, and this plane belonged to their group just prior to deployment to Yangkai, China.
After Lieutenant Thornburg was reported missing, a friend wrote the following poem for his parents~
TRIBUTE TO DOUGLAS THORNBURG
Just feel proud, dear mother heart,
Your precious son, a glorious part
Has taken in this world wide fray
To free all lands from Axis sway;
The silver wings that bore him hence
While you each day endured suspense,
Flashed through the sky on duty bent
The job to do with full intent;
And though his ship may missing be,
Perhaps on land, perhaps on sea,
At conflict's end your gallant son
May come again when war is won;
But should there be a different story,
Just know he flashed his way to glory.
-Gertrude J. Hager
Written for Mr. And Mrs Hix Thornburg of Casa Grande whose son Douglas is reported missing.
Lieutenant Thornburg's remains were to be returned to his parents in his hometown of Casa Grande, AZ, who were moving to Phoenix, AZ at the time, to be placed in a crypt.
A close family member, however, believes his parents subsequently chose to scatter his ashes.
Cremated, Ashes scattered.
Maintained by: B24CoPilotNiece
Originally Created by: ShaneO
Record added: Oct 20, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 60368971