308th Bomb Group's Stories
from the collections of our
Veterans

"Preserving the memory of their sacrifices!"





THE FATE OF
'FLAMINGO' AND 'FRIENDLIN'

By "Midge" Meaney
373rd and 425th Bomb Squadrons

      After each of us had been trained in our particular specialty, my B-24 combat crew was formed at Davis-Monthan Field in Tucson, AZ during January 1943. Our crew was:
    Lt. Chester H. Bohart, Pilot (deceasedí76)
    Lt. Grant C. Pratt, Co-Pilot (currently residing in NM)
    Lt. Clune J. Clifford, Navigator (deceasedí94)
    Lt. Donald B. Duffey, Bombardier (status / location unknown)
    T/Sgt. Charles P. Yelton, Eng. (status / location unknown)
    T/Sgt. Russell A. Giles, Radio Operator (status / location unknown)
    S/Sgt. Edward Pawlick, Assistant Engineer- later changed his name to "Powers"
    (status / location unknown)
    S/Sgt. Milton A. McGee, Assistant Radio Operator (status / location unknown)
    S/Sgt. Max C. Elder, Armorer (deceased.í75)
    S/Sgt. Francis J. Meaney, Armorer. (currently living in Vermont)

      After three months training at Tucson, we were transferred to Biggs Field, El Paso, TX for another three months training. Then we reported to Topeka, KS to pick up a new B-24 D, which we named "Flamingo." We flew to Yangkai,China, arriving July 27, 1943 and were assigned to the 373rd Bomb Squadron of the 308th Bomb Group. Two days later, on July 29th, we flew our first mission to Hong Kong.

      "FLAMINGO"......

      The crew consisted of Capt. William Chenoweth, Major Schultz and a Chinese Air Force pilot (whose name I do not recall), plus the remainder of our regular crew, minus Pawlick who was on sick call. He was replaced by another 373rd man. I donít remember his name.
      The mission was to take about 9 hours. We arrived over the target and encountered no enemy aircraft, just some anti-aircraft fire. Unfortunately, we had to make three runs over the target before dropping our bombs. These additional bomb runs led to a serious problem. When we were about 25 miles south of Yangkai Capt. Chenowith informed us that we were running out of gas and ordered everyone to bail out. Russ Giles struck his head on the back edge of the escape hatch and suffered a severe gash. The rest of our crew all landed safely. We later learned that the Chinese Pilot spilled his parachute in the cockpit, so Captain Chenoweth, and Major Schultz tried to belly land "Flamingo" in a small rice paddy. The landing was perfect, but there was just not enough room and the ship struck a large dike at a high rate of speed, crushing the entire front of the aircraft. All three were killed. This occurred about 4:30 PM. We were all together again about 10:00 PM but I donít recall how or what time we got back to Yangkai. About two weeks later, our crew was transferred to the 425th Squadron at Kunming.

Flamingo after crash.


Interior of Flamingo after crash.(Note from Glenn Roberts, 373rd B.S.)
"Around 4:30 PM on July 29th, Captain Chenoweth radioed in that he was running out of gas and had the crew bail out. He said he would make a belly landing in a rice paddy just a few miles south of Yangkai. Personnel were dispatched in two trucks and a jeep in effort to locate the plane and crewmembers before dark. Our flight engineer, T/Sgt. "A.T." Hill and I (Glenn) volunteered to go along and jumped onto the first truck. A Chinese farmer directed us to the crash site. The plane was a mess. When the plane struck the dike, the nose of the plane had been driven back so hard that there was absolutely nothing left, forward of the wing. The inertial effect of the impact had cause things to break loose throughout the fuselage and fly forward. The bodies of Captain Chenoweth, Major Shultz and the Chinese pilot were removed and taken to Kunming. Hill and I were directed to remove the two waist guns, load them onto the truck, then remain at the site that night and stand guard, for fear that the local people might start taking things from the ship. When it got dark, it was an eerie feeling to be there. We were nervous and all night long, jumped at any little sound. We hadnít eaten since noon and were hungry but wouldnít go inside the plane to search for any K rations. Hill had half a pack of cigarettes which we had smoked by around 9:00 PM. It was a very long night. The next morning we thought they would never send a truck to bring us back to Yangkai."



     "THE FRIENDLIN"......

      At Kunming, we received a replacement airplane. We named it "The Friendlin."

Friendlin crew.


      In the photo above: standing, left to right, Lt. Grant Pratt (copilot), Lt. Donald Duffey (bombardier), Lt. Clune Clifford (navigator), Lt. Chester Bohart (pilot). Kneeling, left to right: T/Sgt. Charles Yelton (engineer), S/Sgt. Milton McGee (gunner), S/Sgt. Francis Meaney (gunner), S/Sgt Edward Pawlick (asst. engineer), S/Sgt. Max Elder (gunner), T/Sgt. Russell Giles (radio).

      On or about May 15, l944 we were sent to Liuchow, which was an advanced base and were briefed on a mission to Luzon, Philippines. This mission was cancelled due to bad weather at the target. The weather continued to be bad until May 20th. On that day we were briefed to search for a Japanese convoy which had been spotted in the South China Sea. Each ship was assigned a search area. The bomb run altitude was to be between 100 and 200 ft. After a short search we located a cargo vessel and started our run. A Japanese destroyer started firing at us. Just before we dropped our bombs we were hit and lost No. 1 engine. We were also hit near the left waist gun position. Yelton received a bad wound on his right hand and several shrapnel wounds in his right arm. From my tail turret position, I saw one of our bombs hit just short of the vessel and one just past. We did not witness a sinking. We pulled up to get some altitude and leave the area. Lt.ís. Bohart and Pratt had to work hard to gain some altitude. Lt. Duffey came back to assess the damage for Bohart, as our entire intercom system was out. He also helped dress Yeltonís wounds. I donít recall how long it took us to get back over land but when we did we were between Swatow and Amoy. We had climbed to about 6000 ft when we lost No.2 engine and were told to bail out.
      I landed on the edge of a rice paddy and was picked up by the Chinese and taken to a school. I was told to write a note to all the crewmembers and the Chinese would send out runners to locate everyone. It took about two days to get everyone rounded up. When we were all together again we were told we had to walk some distance to a river. There, we boarded a boat and continued on our way. We arrived at a town called Miehsin where there was a Maryknoll Mission School and Hospital. Yeltonís wounds were treated professionally by the doctor at the Hospital.
      The Maryknoll Mission was headed up by Bishop Francis X. Ford, who I learned years later was assassinated by the Chinese commies. The priestís names were Fathers John P. Donovan, Cody Eckstein, J. C. Bogaard, and Aloysius Au. There were also 3 nuns at this mission: Sisters Mary Paulita, Mary Imelda, and Joan Marie. They provided us with food, clothing and shelter. I think we stayed here about 2 days while they were arranging for a bus to take us closer to Kunming.

Photo of the crew at the Maryknoll Mission School

Standing (l-r);
Father Donovan, Meaney, Giles, Elder, Fathers Cody Eckstein and Aloysius Au, Yearick, Father Bogaard, unidentified priest.
Seated (l-r);
Sisters, Mary Paulita, Mary Imelda, Joan Marie, Bohart, Bishop, Ford, Col. Choi, Clifford, Lt. Chen Han Ning, Pratt, Duffey.


      When it was time to leave, we thanked these kind people and boarded the bus which we rode for another two days. I donít remember the name of the next town we were in but a VIP in the Chinese government wined and dined us at his home. I donít recall what we had to eat but I remember a very strong colorless liquor (Jing Bao Juice) he served and how he laughed when we tasted it.
      After a few more days we arrived at Hengyang. From there we traveled on to Kweilin where we boarded a C-47 and were flown to Kunming. We arrived on May 31, eleven days after the "bail out." Being out of touch for the 11 days was just long enough to be reported missing. Upon arrival at Kunming they told us to send several cablegrams home, two or three a day, during the next two or three days. I did this and my Mother and Father were in the telegraph office to pick up one of my messages when the "Missing in Action" telegram arrived. Since they kept receiving my cables they were certain that I was OK. We did not fly another mission. On July 10, 1944 we received travel orders to go home.
      Pawlick was sick and did not go on this mission. He was replaced by S/Sgt. Walter L. Yearick. Also flying this mission as an observer, was a CAF member whose name was Chen Han Ning.

      Please understand that after all these years the story is as accurate as I can recall. -- Midge Meaney




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308th Bombardment Group Tribute
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      This web site is provided as a public service.   It is intended to provide factual, historical information to the public, to commemorate the contributions and to preserve the memory of the sacrifices of our World War II veterans serving with U.S. Army Air Forces in the China-Burma-India theater.   Permission is required for any commercial use or mass distribution purposes of the copyrighted material.