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Picture is of Patrick Ranfranz with 307th Bomb Group, 372nd Squadron Radio Operator George Cresswell and his wife Viola on 16 July 2005. Patrick & Cherie Ranfranz flew up to northern Minnesota to meet with George & Viola. George flew 53 missions and knew Pat's uncle and the other members of the Coleman crew.
MissingAirCrew.com Updates

NOTE: As of 18 December 2005 I will be providing Missing Air Crew updates on my blog page at: Pat's Blog. All updates will be provided on the blog and I will no longer update this page.

The following is a chronological listing of the most important updates regarding my Missing Air Crew project and my search for the Coleman crew. I will attempt to use this page to list as many of the events as possible, however, due to my lack of time I will attempt to list only the most important items in the order which they occur.

I created this page on 17 July 2005 and I started this project in 1988 while in college therefore, numerous important dates will be missing from the list below. I'll try and backfill the dates as I find time. Moving forward from 17 July 2005 I'll try and keep the list up-to-date as possible.

I have greatly appreciated all the help others have provided to my project. In addition, I take great joy in providing information and resources to others who locate this web site and can take advantage of any information I have received within my search for the Coleman crew.

Please help with additional information

Thank you to everyone who has help with information and resources regarding my project. Please help with additional information, pictures, and documents. Feel free to submit additional information to Patrick Ranfranz at: webmaster@missingaircrew.com

Update: Date:
Received pictures and documents from the Micronesian Seminar at www.micsem.org. The documents include affidavit's regarding the execution of the priests and American airmen on Palau.

The affidavit's from the Micronesian Seminar have been scanned. Here are the raw scans of the documents. I will be cleaning the files up and posting smaller file sizes ASAP. Please note the large file sizes.

November 24, 2005
Received and add new documents and pictures to the Rice Crew page at: November 13, 2005
New Mising Air Crew pages add to the web site:

The following is a listing of American planes that were shot down or crashed on missions against Yap Island during WWII. The list includes AAF, Navy, and Marine planes. My goal is to continue to buld out this page to make it a comprehensive resource of all planes lost over or near Yap. Throughout the war Yap was a major Japanese communications center and staging area for the Marianas.

November 12, 2005
New Mising Air Crew pages add to the web site: November 11, 2005
Posted pictures by William A. Lamp of the 13th Army Air Force, 307th Bomb Group, and 371st Squadron.

November 9, 2005
Shoreview Press, Shoreview, MN Article: November 6, 2005
Pioneer Press, St. Paul, MN Article: November 6, 2005
Posted information about the Coleman B-24 Crew from the October 2005 Phase I Search Trip to Yap Island

November 2, 2005
Posted information from my interview with Mark Loochaz, October 2005, Yap Island. Mark is a possible witness to the Coleman Crew shoot down and provided information about American POWs from the plane.

October 30, 2005
PAT NOTE FROM NOV 3: Wreckage we originally thought was from the Coleman plane was from a F4U Corsair. Please see my updates at: Oct 2005 Search Trip

PAT NOTE FROM OCT 29: The following pictures are from our (Patrick & Cherie Ranfranz) Missing Air Crew search trip to Yap Island in October 2005. We located numerous American crash sites and conducted a lot of interviews with Yapese elders. I have added the raw links to pictures from our trip below so they can be viewed right away. I will be adding additional details, information, and movie clips as I find time over the next few weeks. In addition, we might have found pieces of the Coleman plane (See the unidentified American Crash site pictures below) as well as information from villagers that two crew members escaped from the Coleman plane as it crashed. The POW's were brought to a village by the Japanese and sent to Palau with two Catholic Priests. In short, a lot more information will be posted ASAP.

October 29, 2005
Shoreview Press newspaper article about my project titled, "Man seeks answers in Pacific—History, flight aficionado searches for uncle's crashed World War II plane".

October 4, 2005
Cherie and I flew up to New York Mills, Minnesota to meet with Viola & George Cresswell one last time before departing for Yap next week. George shared a number of additional 307th Bomb Group stories and facts during the visit. In additon, George asked me to pass on a message to the Yapese expressing his sorrow for any Yapese injured or killed during 307th Bomb Group missions over Yap.


Patrick Ranfranz and Viola & George Cresswell


Cherie Ranfranz and Viola & George Cresswell

October 8, 2005
Recieved John E., Jr. Jurica (Coleman Co-Pilot) Mission & Flight Training Reports from Paul Jurica. The documents will help us find out more about the Coleman crew missions. October 7, 2005
Pat & Cherie start to pack for Yap trip! Final preparations to leave on Saturday, October 15. October 5, 2005
Shoreview Press newspaper article about my project titled, "Man seeks answers in Pacific—History, flight aficionado searches for uncle's crashed World War II plane".

October 4, 2005
Received newspaper articles about T/Sgt Robert P. Wagoner (Coleman Crew Engineer). The articles were located by Paul Jurica (Nephew of Co-Pilot John E., Jr. Jurica). Paul received help from Beth Carr and Dawn Linder with the Wauseon Public Library in Wauseon, OH.

September 24, 2005
Created a new FINAL MISSION page using information created by Dan Odenweller. Thank you to Dan Odenweller for taking time to put together the chronology of Coleman Crew's Last Mission!

September 18, 2005
Pat Ranfranz & Cecile
Click to enlarge.
Patrick Ranfranz meeting with Martin B. Unger (Navigators) widow and sisters in New York City on 12 September 2005. Left to right: Pearl, Leona, Cecile, and Patrick. This was the first meeting between Pearl and the sisters since 1944.
Had dinner in New York City with Martin Unger's widow Pearl, and sisters (Cecile & Leona). This was the first time the sisters have been together (in-person) since 1944. Also received additional pictures from Martin's sister Cecile that have been posted to Martin's web page.

September 12, 2005
Received and posted pictures from Martin's widow, Pearl. The pictures were taken while Martin and Pearl were stationed at Selman Field, LA and Pueblo, CO during training in 1943.

September 11, 2005
Cherie and I finished our PADI (scuba) certification with 4 open water dives in Square Lake near Stillwater, Minnesota this weekend. We plan to dive more over the next 60 days to continue preparing for our Yap dives. August 21, 2005
Rice Crew picture taken in the south pacific in front of the "Eager Beaver—Joe E Brown plane. Supplied by John Painter. August 13, 2005
Received and posted the 5th Bomb Group mission report from 25 June 1944. The report has VERY GOOD INFORMATION about the the Coleman crash site. The 5th BG report states, "This plane was reported to have gone down in a flat spin and crashed just outside the reef south of the island."

It's my wish and dream that the plane is "JUST" off the outside of the reef. If it's close to the island we might be able to find the plane.

The 25 June 1944 mission with a joint strike between 2 squadrons of B-24's from the 5th Bomb Group and 2 squadrons of B-24's from the 307th Bomb Group to target the Yap Island Airfields. As you will read, the mission report statements about the Coleman shoot down are very different between the bomb groups.

August 13, 2005
With the help of my daughter, we finished scaning Martin Unger's letters and cards from 1943-44. Cecile (Martin's sister) provided me with access to 57 letters from 1943 and 34 letters from 1944 including a letter sent the day before the 25 June 1944 shoot down.

The letters are an invaluable piece of Army Air Force (AAF) history that follows Martin from the time he entered the Air Corps in March 6, 1943 to June 24, 1944. The letters were sent from the following locations:

  • March 1943 to April 1943: Nashville Army Air Center (A.A.F.C.C.), Thompson Lane, Nashville, Tenn
  • April 1943 to October 1943: Navigation School, Monroe, Louisiana
  • October 1943 to February 1944: Army Air Base, Pueblo, Colorado
  • February 1944 to June 1944: Overseas

View the Martin Unger Letter Archive

August 13, 2005

Sioux Falls, South Dakota 1943—Army Air Force Training Command Technical School Book

Scanned and posted the Radio Operator book I received from David Stennick. the book is titled, "Amry Air Force Training Command Technical School, Sioux Falls, South Dakota 1943". My uncle and David graduated from the school on Thanksgiving Day 1943.



August 9, 2005
Spoke with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) this evening regarding my trip to Yap and search for the Coleman plane. Received instructions on how to search for the plane and work with JPAC to recover the remains if the plane is located.

JOINT POW/MIA ACCOUNTING COMMAND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE REPORT FORM
(pdf file 162 KB)

August 9, 2005
Added pictures of the Japanese Dive Bomber Yokosuka D4Y (Judy) Found near Yap Island by Eckhard Krumpholz with the German diving magazine TAUCHEN July 31, 2005
Added pictures of the Commemorative Air Force B-24, The Diamond Lil. Only two B-24's are still flying and I was able to see both over the last month. July 31, 2005
Added information and pictures from the Bilder Family about the Rice Crew who were shot down on 5 July 1944 near Yap July 31, 2005
Received a newspaper clipping (including a picture) about /Sgt Romeo Tetreault—Gunner from the Coleman crew. The newspaper was courtesy of Paul Jurica (Nephew of Co-Pilot John E., Jr. Jurica) July 26, 2005
Posted Martin B. Unger Graduation card from Navigation School on 16 October 1943 July 23, 2005
Posted Martin B. Unger Letter to Mother dated 24 June 1944 (1 day before the shoot down. July 20, 2005
View pictures of the inside and outside of the Collings Foundation’s B-24J taken by Pat & Cherie Ranfranz on July 17, 2005 at the Anoka Co Airport in Blaine, Minnesota. July 19, 2005
307th Bomb Group Mission Reports: View over 2000 mission report documents converted from microfilm into a digital file format. the documents include mision reports, pictures, squadron updates, reports, and more from late 1943 to 1944. July 18, 2005
Located and posted 307th Bomb Group, 372nd Squadron document dated 19 April 1944 authorizing crew members to wear the Aviation Badge "Aerial Gunner". Coleman crew members in document include Robert Wagoner, James Lykens, Jr., Romeo Tetreault, NBill Williams, James Hurd, and John R. McCullough (on the last page). July 17, 2005
Flew up to northern Minnesota to meet with 307th Bomb Group, 372nd Squadron Radio Operator George Gresswell and his wife. George flew 52 missions, recived numerous awards, was injured on a mission, and shot down and rescued by a sub. George knew my uncle and the Coleman crew from mission briefings. My meeting with George was one of my highlights of this entire project! View Picture July 16, 2005
Meeting at my home with members of the Marcel Bilder (Navigator) family. Marcel was a member of the Rice crew shoot down on 5 July 1944 over Yap. The family provided pictures of the Rice crew, additional 307th Bomb Group documents, and a code book that Marcel used to communicate what he was doing with the 307th to get past censors. I will post the pictures and documents soon. July 15, 2005
Received a newspaper clipping (including a picture) from the Martinsville Daily Bulletin about T/Sgt James R. Hurd—Radio Operator from the Coleman crew. The newspaper was courtesy of Rick Ward and Paul Jurica (Nephew of Co-Pilot John E., Jr. Jurica) July 15, 2005
Final plans put in place for our (my wife and I) trip to Yap on October 15, 2005. More information will be posted soon. July 14, 2005
St. Paul Pioneer Press article about my project titled, "Man on mission to find lost aircrew-Uncle shot down during World War II". The article was also picked up by the AP wire and ran in newspapers around the country. July 04, 2005
Dan B. Odenwelle updated the 307th Bomb Group database file. July 1, 2005
Received the Individual Aircraft Record Card for B-24J-170, AAF Serial Number 44-40598. Plane lost with the Coleman Crew, Yap Island, 25 June 1944 June 20, 2005
Added 307th Bomb Group Nose Art pictures by James V. Walsh added to the web site. May 14, 2005
The family of James F. Lind (Bombardier) contacted me and supplied a picture. Additional information coming soon! April 8, 2005
I had a wonderful meeting with Martin Unger's (Navigator) sister in New York City while on a business trip. We talked for four hours. April 4, 2005
Had a second very interesting conversation with Pearl Unger, Martin Unger's (Navigator) wife. March 4, 2005
Located a new picture of the pilot, Gerald D. Coleman March 4, 2005
Received information from Richard DeBaugh, 41st Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group January 16, 2005
Posted 307th Bomb Group Consolidated Mission Report No. 307-292 for 25 June 1944. December 29, 2004
Received letter from Jim Kendall, Historian, 307th Bomb Group Association. December 28, 2004
Made contact with a radio school classmate of John McCullough named David Stennick from a picture found in John's cigarette case. December 27, 2004
New pictures and documents about T/Sgt John R. McCullough December 26, 2004
Posted articles located by Wanda from the McCurtain Co. Genealogical Society about Gerald Colemand December 12, 2004
Received and posted pictures and an article about Co-Pilot John E., Jr. Jurica. December 10, 2004
Received 3 rolls of 307th Bomb Group detailed mission reports from Jan-June 1944 on microfilm from the Air Force archives. December 10, 2004
Department of the Air Force, Maxwell Air Force Base, Al sent a copy of the squadron history for June 1944 including the mission description of 25 June 1944. 20 April 1990
Received a copy of the MARC #10023 on microfilm from the Department of the Air Force, Maxwell Air Force Base, Al. March 1989
Please submit additional information, pictures, and documents.

 

 

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