USAAF WORLD WAR II Engineer T/Sgt Robert L. Christopherson KIA Hometown: Minnesota Squadron: 65th 43rd Bomb Group Service #17017152 Awards: Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart Pilot 1st/Lt. William J. Sarsfield Jr. KIA
Target:Vunakanau Airfield MACR #14590 Mission Date: 26-Jun-43 Serial Number: #41-2430 Aircraft Model B-17 Aircraft Letter: Aircraft Name: "Naughty But Nice" Location: shot down over Vunakanau Cause: Japanese fighter Crew of 10 9KIA 1POW
Lt. Trimingham remains were recovered in 1982 and identified in 2001 and are now part of a group burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Group Memorial at Arlington He is listed among the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery with a star behind his name signifying that his remains have been recovered.
Mission History Regular pilot Winfrey had a slight wound and was unable to fly on the mission planned for June 26, 1943 over Rabaul. Instead, Lt. Charles Trimingham flew in his place. Also, trainee Herman Knott was aboard.
Took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby landing at Dobodura on the north coast of New Guinea to refuel and load bombs. Took off again at 1:45am on a night bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. Over the target, the B-17 came under intense anti-aircraft fire after releasing their bombs, but was not hit. The bomber loitered in the target area for another 30 minutes, and were about to return to base. Approaching from lower altitude, a J1N1 Irving piloted by Shigetoshi Kudo, made three firing passes against the bomber using its upward firing cannons. The second pass killed pilot Sarsfield. His third attack set fire to the left wing and only navigator Holguin was able to bail out before the bomber crashed into the Baining Mountains south-east of Rabaul. Also shot down that same night was B-17F "Taxpayer's Pride" 41-24448.
B - 17. Wreckage Discovered in 1982 The Nose Art was still Highly Visible. Five of crew remains were positively identified: Peattie, Knott, Garcia, Griebel and Payne and buried in their hometown cemeteries during 1985. Both Holguin and Winfrey attended their memorial services.
Note: group Burial in Arlington National Cemtery September 2011