|Birth: ||Jan. 1, 1921|
New York, USA
|Death: ||Jan. 30, 1981|
1st Lt USAAF WWII
308th BG 373rd B Sq
While on a combat mission over interior China to Bangkok, Thailand, this crew bailed out of B-24J #42-72835 'Flamingo II/For Sale' of the 308th BG, 373rd B Sq, although there were several different crew members on board that day. All bailed out safely, however, Pilot Major Thorel 'Skip' Johnson reported that they 'were twenty-one days walking back to [their] base'. Lieutenant Kirkland as a Navigator was a replacement with the crew that day.
As told by SSgt Gail Vanlandingham, they made it back by living off the land. Sgt Braydon Hassinger's widow Faye tells that all of the crew members had words written in Chinese sewn onto their jackets, saying they were friendly in case they went down. At one point some of the local Chinese assisted them with necessities.
Major Thorel 'Skip' Johnson was one of the most decorated airmen of WWII, and piloted B-24 #? the ‘Nip Nipper' of the 308th BG, 373rd B Sq. In all, the regular crew members experienced two bailouts, the first was in B-24E #42-7011 'The Eddie Rickenbacker'. Another plane, B-24E #42-7160 followed this plane on a search and rescue mission for the two airmen that bailed out over the Pacific, and the Instructor Pilot was Lieutenant Douglas J Thornburg, who 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, and crashed head-on into Green Mountain on San Miguel Island, one of the three Channel Islands.
'Skip' Johnson's crew named their next plane B-24D #42-40837 ‘Bob ‘N Pete' after the two that were lost at sea, Lt Peter Dannhardt and Lt Robert Prosser.
Connie 'Lucille' Long Kirkland (1920 - 2005)
Salisbury National Cemetery
North Carolina, USA
Plot: Section A, Site 960
Created by: B24CoPilotNiece
Record added: Aug 24, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 75442739