Wreckage of a Consolidated B-24D "Liberator" off Jab'u, Arno Atoll
by Dirk HR Spennemann
The wreckage of a B-24D "Liberator", a Consolidated San Diego-built B-24D, block 145 (B-24D-145-CO), Serial number #42-41205) (nickname "St. Quentin Quail") rests on the lagoonside of Jab'u, Arno Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. The plane, part of the of the 98th Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, flying under the command of Capt. Morse, crashed on 2 January 1944, as a result of damage incurred during an attack on the Japanese airbase of Taroa on Maloelap Atoll. Another B-24 of the same squadron, the Homesick Angel, also returning from Taroa reported the landing, took photos (see below) and dropped emergency rations. Apparently the bomber crews had been briefed that Arno Atoll was a safe place to land in case of an emergency, but when a "Dumbo" plane, a Navy PBY flying boat went into the lagoon early next morning at dawn and reported that there was no trace of the crew. It was believed that were captured and taken away.
The perished crew comprised of: Lt. Roger W.Morse, Pilot; Lt. Herbert S. Evans, Co-Pilot; Lt. Robert H. Wirostek, Navigator; Lt. William F. Carpen, Bombardier; Sgt. Marion L. Farmer, Flight Engineer; TSgt. John W. Horman, Radio-operator; SSgt. I.L.Stowe, Gunner; SSgt. Paul H. VanBuskin, Gunner; SSgt. Henry R. Wyka, Gunner; and Pvt. Robert T. McTwigan, Gunner.
The two crew members buried on Arno (Henry R. Wyka and Marion L. Farmer) were exhumed after the U.S. landings on Majuro on 31 January 1944 and re-interred at the war cemetery on Garra Island ("Demon Island"). After the war they were removed and interred at their final resting places in the U.S.A.
From the pattern of the wreckage and debris it is clear that the plane landed at the beach in an eastward direction, against the prevailing tradewinds, and that it came to an abrupt halt at the beachrock spur, which may well have been partialy submerged at the time.
The aluminum is on the whole in good condition and it can be expected that as long as no untoward actions happen, the plane will be around for some time. The plane, resting on the reef has been utilized by the Arno people in the 1940s and 1950s as a resource for aluminum to manufacture coconut-grater blades, husking-stick points and other artifacts for daily use.
The plane wreck is a significant cultural resource at it is tangible evidence of the US long range bombing mission against the Japanese bases in the Marshall Islands
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