2Lt William M Millner

2Lt William M Millner

Birth
Death 19 Nov 1944 (aged 23)
Burial Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines
Memorial ID 56765713 · View Source
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Pilot 2nd Lt. John B. Cunningham, O-771325 (MIA / KIA) Jamesville, WICo-Pilot 2nd Lt. William M. Millner, O-782590 (MIA / KIA) Sebring, OH
Navigator F/O Gerald J. Wachal, T-127638 (MIA / KIA) Cedar Rapids, IA
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Louis D. Clark, 1297840 (MIA / KIA) Modesto, CA
Nose Gunner Sgt Philip J. Marino, 38382711 (MIA / KIA) Norco, LA
Radio SSgt James E. Boettcher, 16117966 (MIA / KIA) Garden Bay, WI
Engineer SSgt Ambrozio B. Tata, 35060137 (MIA / KIA) Cleveland, OH
Waist Gunner Sgt James T. Heerey, 32982942 (MIA / KIA) Middle Village, NY
Waist Gunner Sgt Jewel A. Rivers, 34916756 (MIA / KIA) Whatley, AL
Tail Gunner Sgt Robert J. Gibson, 12220067 (MIA / KIA) Springfield, IL
MIA November 19, 1944
MACR 12582

Aircraft HistoryBuilt by Consolidated. Assigned to the 90th Bombardment Group, 400th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. This crew had flown four missions previously. When lost, engines R1830-65A serial numbers a) 44-4355 b) 44-4297 c) 44-3781 d) 44-3880. Installed were Martin / Emerson turrets, gun serial numbers 490423, 490538, 38204, 702353, 670861, 670511, 671345, 671786.

Mission History
Took off from Mokmer Drome on Biak armed with five 1,000 lbs bombs a bombing mission against Libby Airfield on Mindanao. This B-24 was last seen by 1st Lt. George A. Sutterley, before entering light weather, and this bomber failed to make its rendezvous point, reach the target or return to base.

SearchWhen this B-24 failed to return or land at an alternate airfield, it was declared missing. The next day, a Catalina unsuccessfully searched for this bomber. Also, three B-24s from the Bombardment Squadron unsuccessfully searched.

WreckageIn fact, this B-24 crashed into a mangrove swamp near the Senindara River, near Kasar northeast of Babo. Japanese forces visited the crash site, including Fujita Kosuke.

Recovery of RemainsPostwar, Japanese POW Fujita Kosuke reported the crash and drew a map for Australian authorities.

Postwar, Mr. Mirhadt, inspector of police at Hollandia. At the crash site, he recovered two sets of remains and three pairs of shoes, taking them back to Hollandia. Later, these sets of remains were shipped to the US Army at Finschafen, and later to Manila American Cemetery. Their ultimate disposition is unknown.

On June 27, 1947 a RAAF Search Team including S/L Keith Rundle, F/L Morris, F/L Onus, W/O Heywood, W/O McGrath, W/O Gunnourie, Sgt Havenport, LAC Forbes, W/O Kokkelink, Sgt Matheys. Also, Mr. Lewerissa, Mr. Siemelink and Mr. Parunhussa (A.D.O. Babo). They located one wing and rear fuselage, including the bomb bay and tail, and a gun hatch with "Phil May" painted on it (Philip Marino?). No other remains were found.

Bruce Fenstermaker visited the site on August 14, 1990:"When in the Babo area I also did area surveys for missing US aircraft in this area. At that time I only had access to MACR reports on missing aircraft and could not assume anything other than that any aircraft I came upon was unreported. Information came to me and of a four engine bomber possibly US crashed in the area. I arrived on the shore of a small river and proceeded inland to what appeared to be a large aircraft debris field. The diameter of part of the fuselage barrel proved to be a large aircraft and the R-1830 engines in the river and the one near the wing proved it to be US. I located the lower rear waist access door and two port windows on this door and matched this to a B-24J. Further investigation I identified what was to be the top and left of the nose area with part of the turret, pitot tube and window frame of the aircraft, confirming my identification of type but unable to identify the individual aircraft. Today with access to additional documents, I feel very good that my analysis was correct as to the type and now to identification of the individual aircraft and able to contact surviving family members that it was found, contrary to the family never being told or knowing that it was ever found in 1947.

Do I believe that other remains are still there? Yes, Dynamics of the crash lead me to believe that covered remains under the debris and or trapped remains needs to be investigated further. It took the RAAF about 14 hours to get to the site (I believe because they had an unpowered boat) versus five hours for me (with an outboard motor boat) and because of the enormous workload and heroic effort of the Australians, time was limited then and a thorough examination of the site was not possible and they had to continue elsewhere trying to investigate war crimes and not only our missing but their own countrymen and my workload was enormous also but I wasn't as I thought able to return with help, to investigate further. I pray that someday I will return and give these men a second chance to come home."

MemorialsThe entire crew was declared dead the day of the mission. Memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Relatives
Rick Wachal (nephew of Gerald Wachal)"Most everything regarding my uncle Gerald Wachal was lost when my Grandmother passed away when I was a child. I never knew my Uncle other then through stories and photos."

Vince Arnold (great nephew of Tata)"I am a descendent of SSgt Ambrozio B. Tata and have his tour book for the Jolly Rogers, his Paper signed by JFK declaring him dead and a photo of him w/side arm at his base, would be happy to give you what ever you need to complete the story."

Michael Bruce Tata (nephew of Tata)"I am the nephew of SSgt Ambrozio B. Tata. I have always been interested in my uncle's fate, because his remains have never been recovered. He has a memorial grave located in Lima, Ohio. I would be grateful if his remains are ever recovered to be returned to his family plot. I am also interested to know if he received an honored military funeral, since we come from a military family and most of us are Vietnam veterans."

Chip Kelmell (nephew-in-law of Phillip Marino)

References
Legacy of the 90th Bombardment Group page 144
NAA "Report by S/L Rundle on United States Liberator Aircraft Recovered Kasar, Senindara River, Babo Area" July 29, 1947
Thanks to Bruce Fenstermaker, Vince Arnold Rick Wachal for and additional information Heerey's name is listed in some sources incorrectly as "Heery" or "Henrey"



Last UpdatedJuly 26, 2011


Family Members

Gravesite Details Entered the service from Ohio.

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  • Maintained by: Kenneth & Carolyn
  • Originally Created by: War Graves
  • Added: 8 Aug 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 56765713
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for 2Lt William M Millner (4 Apr 1921–19 Nov 1944), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56765713, citing Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines ; Maintained by Kenneth & Carolyn (contributor 46788418) .