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Yap Island Mission Loss—15 July 1944

The following planes were lost on 15 July 1944 on a mission to Yap Island. I would greatly appreciate anyone's help to locate additional information regarding the information listed below.Submit additional information, updates, newpaper articles, pictures, and supporting documents to: pat@missingaircrew.com

Three 307th Bomb Group B-24's were lost on missions to Yap on 15 July 1944:

Date: Type of Plane: Unit: Location: More Info
15 July 1944 B-24 13th AF, 307th BG, & 372nd BS 5-8 miles south of Yap Island. Info
15 July 1944 B-24 13th AF, 307th BG, & 370nd BS 5-8 miles south of Yap Island. Info
15 July 1944 B-24 13th AF, 307th BG, & 371st BS Ditched south of Yap Island. Info

Date: Plane Type: Unit: Crew Names: Supporting Documents:
15 July 1944 B-24 13th AF, 307th BG, & 370th BS All 11 Men listed as MIA:
  1. Ulna H. Sylor
  2. Navigator, F/O Charles J. Harder (T-124507) DED
  3. Sam Camp Jr.
  4. Joseph S. Principe
  5. Walter C. Rowan
  6. Michael G. Vetrecin Jr.
  7. Ruben O. Miller
  8. Francis R. Keefe
  9. William W. Jr. Waters
  10. James M. Hitchcook
  11. Clarence W. Dickerson
MACR 6923

AC# 44-405555

MACR 6923
(pdf file 7 MB)

Bill Cheney Diary with July 15, 1944 note

Louis Vogel Diary with July 15, 1944 note

Description

PAT NOTE: The collision was 5-8 miles south of Yap Island.

40555 (307th BG) collided with 42-73119 south of Yap atoll.

307th Bomb Group member Diary Entry from July 15, 1944

Messed around. Vetrecin and Hitchcock, flying with Slyor over Yap were killed today when another ship got caught in prop wash and crashed into him. The plane broke into bits and went down in pieces right over the target. Someone reported that the ball turret came loose and went down which means poor ole Vetrecin never had a chance. Someone else reported seeing chutes open but don't know which planes they might have come from. Hitch was flying his 50th mission to get it on the list going into tormorra. He was top gunner in Squadron in point. Sure makes me sick to see these guys go down after flying with them so much.

Picture of Lt. Sylor

The following picture of Lt. Sylor was provided by Lorraine Vitale (half-sister of Lt Sylor's daughter):
Lt. Sylor
Ulna H. Sylor

Lt. Sylor
Lt. Sylor
Lt. Sylor Wife
Lt. Sylor wife about
the time of his loss.

Click to view a high resolution image above

Addiitonal information provided by the family:

    1Lt Ulna H. Sylor, friends called him "Babe"
    Service # 0-803306
    13th AF, 370th Bomber Squadron, 307th Bomber Group Heavy
    B24 Liberator, tail number 44-405555, nick named "Winnie" after my Mom whose name is Wilma S. Yohonn
I received the following letter from Lorraine Vitale regarding her father,1st Lt. Sylor. who was lost over Yap Island on July 15, 1944.
    My mother was married, before my Dad, to a wonderful man who died while piloting a B24 over the Pacific in WWII.

    As a history buff, I “googled” his name one day, and found more info than I thought possible on the www.missingaircrew.com web site. While Mom had shared very little with us about his death, I did know that two American planes had collided near Yap Island while on a bombing mission. This web site was able to provide much more detail about the mission, which I, of course, shared with Mom and my sister, who is his daughter. While somewhat painful for Mom, she was so amazed that this info existed, and happy, finally, to have a more full picture of what happened.

    The more I found, the more I wanted to find. Thankfully there still are family members who could add to my mother’s recollections, and I came to know that he was a much respected young man. Born in the small town of Dansville NY in 1917, he spent his short life there and graduated from Dansville High School a football hero and valedictorian of his class. Known for his kindness and optimism, he was offered both academic and athletic college scholarships – his future looked very bright- and then “the war” happened. “Babe” as he was known (no one ever called him Ulna) signed up in April of 1942, one of thousands who stepped forward to service in the months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

    He and Mom married in Nov of 1942, and off he went to Maxwell Field, AL . Mom accompanied him to Maxwell, and later to Sumter SC when he was attached to Shaw Field. She returned to Dansville in April of 1943, and seven months after her return, my sister was born. Lt. Sylor saw his daughter, my sister Lois, only once, when she was about 3 months old. He knew he would soon be going overseas.

    It was on his 50th and last bomb mission, as he had written to Mom, that the tragic accident took place. While evading Japanese Zeros after dropping their bombs, another US plane was hit and it, in turn, flew into Lt. Sylor’s plane. 22 men fell into the sea, and although a search was immediately conducted, no one was ever found.

    When I asked Mom for pictures of him that I could submit to the web site, she gave me two. I suggested to her that I would probably just send one, as the other had a strange red smudge on it. “Oh”, she said,” that‘s from my lipstick where I kissed him goodnight”.

    Of course I loved my own Dad, and respected his service to our country (he returned safely from WWII), but I am happy to say I would have been proud to call this fine man “father” also. He certainly deserves to be remembered.

    Lorraine Vitale

Lewis Smith Information about July 15, 1944 Collision:

Lewis Smith Letter about 15 July 1944 Collision-PDF
(pdf file 200 KB)

S/Sgt. Jack Ryder Tail-Gunner on Capt. Eugene Link's crew, his story about the raid to Yap Island on July 15, 1944

Our 50th mission was a dangerous daylight raid over Yap Island with no fighter escort. The weather was stormy, and the formation had to breakup temporarily. The Japanese were flying their newest aircraft the "Tojo". Ryder explained that because of normal prop wash the B-24's do not fly close or wing-tip-to-wing-tip. From the ground it would look like this but actually the formation was set up in step-like fashion - each plane flying a little above the other.

    I spotted a Japanese plane turning toward us and I hollered, "Pilot from Tail-Up!" The pilot pulled up and the airplane rose sharply in an evasive maneuver to avoid striking two Liberators flying on a collision course below us. I could see one B-24 steering to the right and another one was on my right, which had been shot full of holes along the fuselage. The pilot was apparently dead or unconscious and the plane veered and tipped over and slammed into the one on the left. We were about 20 to 25,000 feet and if we had not pulled up quickly we would have gone down tangled with the two planes as they circled down, leveled off and hit the water about 20 feet apart. Two smoke piles. We had forty planes in our attack on Yap Island which was out of range for our P-40 escort. Arriving at Yap we dropped incendiary bomb's to mark the area. The incendiaries would hit the water and blink and some hit land causing fires, which lit up the area for our bombers. At this time, we were flying silvery aluminum planes, which were easy to spot. Our plane was the lead plane. The bombs were released, and we returned to base.

This is Ryder's account of the raid as told to the Author of a local book recently published. I was the nose gunner on the crew, and the only thing that I can remember is seeing the two planes going down after they collided.

Most of the missions that we went on, the Japanese Fighter planes that were waiting to attack us, usually made only two or three passes at us. By the time we were headed away from the target, we were beyond their range, and they were no longer able to stay with us and attack us. On this mission they were using a different plane that had more armament to protect them and also had a longer range, so they were able to stay with us longer, resulting in more attacks than in the previous missions.

This was our 50th and last mission that we flew. It was a twelve hour mission. Captain Link was the original Pilot of our crew. He had completed his flying sometime before this mission and our Co-Pilot, his name I cannot remember, so to the best of my memory Lt. Laliberte was our Pilot on this mission.

Please submit additional information.

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Date: Plane Type: Unit: Crew Names: Supporting Documents:
15 July 1944 B-24 13th AF, 307th BG, & 372nd BS All 11 Men listed as MIA:
  1. Anthony F. Diederich
  2. Andrew Sekanics
  3. Robert W. Pomeroy
  4. Eugene W. Garrett
  5. Clint D. Hundley
  6. Charles F. Reynolds
  7. John O. Dunbar
  8. Kenneth W. Seiler
  9. Robert F. Jocobs
  10. William E. Moores
  11. William E. Crowley
MACR 6924

AC# 42-73119

MACR 6924
(pdf file 7 MB)

Bill Cheney Diary with July 15, 1944 note

Louis Vogel Diary with July 15, 1944 note

Description

PAT NOTE: The collision was 5-8 miles south of Yap Island.

40555 (307th BG) collided with 42-73119 over Yap atoll

Diederich Crew
Diederich Crew: Back Row (left to right): Kenneth W. Seiler, Robert F. Jocobs, William E. Crowley, Charles F. Reynolds, John O. Dunbar, and Clint D. Hundley. Front Row(left to right): Anthony F. Diederich, Robert W. Pomeroy, Andrew Sekanics, and Eugene W. Garrett. Not pictured: William E. Moores

Additional information and pictures of the Diederich crew can be viewed at the following links:

Robert Pomeroy Picture

The following picture of Robert Pomeroy (crew member of the Diederich crew) was located and shared by Jacey Kessen of Los Angeles. Jacey's grandmother asked her to look into more information about her brothers loss during WWII; Robert W. Pomeroy Service # 0-768215, 307th Bomb Grp, 372nd Sqd.


Click to Enlarge--Robert Pomeroy original picture

Click to Enlarge--Robert Pomeroy restored picture

Kenneth W. Seiler Picture

Please submit additional information.

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Date: Plane Type: Unit: Crew Names: Supporting Documents:
15 July 1944 B-24J 13th AF, 307th BG, 371st BS Kizer crew: 5 (*) of the 11 were picked up by a Navy PBY Catalin on 17 July 1944:
  1. * Pilot: 2/Lt. Gayle W. Kizer
  2. Co-Pilot: 2/Lt. Jack S. Callaway, Jr. DED
  3. * Navigator: 2/Lt. Richard D. Wiley
  4. Bombardier: 2/Lt. Leslie E. Klinefelter DED
  5. Engineer: S/Sgt. Harold A. Smethurst, Jr. DED
  6. * Ass't Engineer: Cpl. Robert G. Ashby
  7. Radio Operator: Sgt. Sherlock T. McNab, Jr. DED
  8. Ass't Radio Operator: Cpl. Chester Bauer DED
  9. Tail Gunner: Cpl. Joseph C. Patla DED
  10. * Armorer Gunner: Cpl. James W. Erickson
  11. * Photographer: Sgt. Hilary Gilbert, Jr.
AC# 42-40857

MACR #7180

Description

Lt. Kizer and the Kizer Crew

Additional Information about the Lt. Kizer and the Kizer Crew can be found at the following links:

Shot up and ditched about 240 miles north of Wakde Island.

Plane #42-40857 made a forced landing at 1616, local time, at the position 01º 50' North 144º 18' East, about 350 miles northwest of the admiralty Islands. Five members of the eleven -man crew were rescued by a PBY plane on 17 July 1944. According to the survivors, all crew members escaped from the plane which sank in about 4 minutes. Sergeant McNab was injured in the landing. The survivors were on tow lift rafts and it was believed that the missing personnel were on a third raft. Just before dawn on the first night, crew members on one raft heard calls from another raft and believed that they recognized the voices of Lt. Klinefelter and Corporal Patla. Two survivors also reported seeing the balloon for the radio signal on 17 July 1944 and followed the direction of the signal unit it dropped. However, no sightings were made. It was the opinion of the organization headquarters that these men could have drifted to some island or been picked up by an enemy vessel. The rate of drift in this area is 12-18 miles a day, and the plane went down between the north equatorial current which flows east and the south equatorial current which flows west.

Sgt. Hilary Gilbert was rescued from the Lt. Kizer Crew crash on 15 July 1944 and shot down a second time with the Anthony crew on 10 August 1944

Sgt. Hilary Gilbert was rescued on 17 July 1944 after going down with the Kizer crew on a mission to Yap. He was shot down a second time less then a month later with the Anthony crew on 10 August 1944. He was captured by the Japanese near the mouth of the Yap harbor with Sgt. Reyond B. Mooney after bailing out of the Anthony B-24. On 11 August 1944 the two captured flyers left Yap on board the Special Sub chaser #27 under the command of Ensign Miyake Hito. On August 13 they reached Palau. On August 19 the POWs were put on the Japanese cruiser Kinu at Palau to be transferred to Manila by way of Cebu. The Kinu was likely sunk by American subs as it approached Manila.

Please submit additional information.

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Sylor & Diederich B-24 memorial sign and markers:

I'm pleased to announce a partnership between the Missing Air Crew Project and the Yap Visitors Bureau (YVB). The two organizations have been working together over the few years to document the history of Yap during World War II. The project goals include creating resources to document and share the history, training the Yap tourism industry on the history, setting up a WWII tour process and to create memorials to remember the lifes lost during WWII. The following pictures are of the Sylor & Diederich B-24 memorial sign and markers sent to Yap Island to honor the memory of the 22 men who died then the two B-24's collided on July 15, 1944.

Click on a thumbnail image below to view the full sized image.


Sylor & Diederich B-24 memorial sign

Sylor & Diederich B-24 memorial markers

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