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Archive Report: US Forces
1941 - 1945

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

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5th Air Force
12.06.1945 529th Bombardment Squadron (H) B-24M 44-42329, 1st Lt. Harry F. Long

Operation: Saigon, French Indo-China (Vietnam)

Date: 12th June 1945 (Tuesday)

Unit No: 529th Bombardment Sqn (H), 380th Bombardment Group (H), 5th Bomber Command, 5th Air Force

Type: B-24M

Serial No: 44-42329

Code: 31 (NL)

Location: About 40 km (24¾ mls) NW of Cholon, French Indo-China (Vietnam)

Base: Fenton Airfield, Australia

Pilot: 1st Lt. Harry Floyd Long O-823648 AAF Age 27. KiA

Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Harold Charles ‘Hal’ Schade Jr. O-812517 AAF Age 23. KiA

Nav: 2nd Lt. Robert Keith Oswald O-2071678 AAF Age 23. KiA

Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Robert Louis Vetter O-2007635 AAF Age 28. KiA

Engineer: S/Sgt. Edward Allen Martin Jr. 34747518 AAF Age 28. KiA

Radio Operator: Cpl. John Frances Sobieski 33761118 AAF Age 20 KiA

Nose Gunner: S/Sgt. Norman Brown 16076494 AAF Age 21. KiA

Gunner: S/Sgt. John Lugin 20347422 AAF Age 27. KiA

Gunner: T/Sgt. Allen William Nicks 18034321 AAF Age 22. Murdered (1)

Gunner: S/Sgt. William Jenson Thames Jr. 18141036 AAF Age 21. KiA

Tail Gunner: T/Sgt. Joseph Anthony DeMaria 31311433 AAF Age 22. Murdered (1)

REASON FOR LOSS:

On the 12th June 1945 the 380th Bombardment Group (BG) were tasked with bombing the railroad marshalling yards in Saigon city in the then French Indo-China (Vietnam). Earlier attacks on railway bridges around Saigon city had trapped large quantities of military materiel aboard wagons in the numerous marshalling yards in the city. The aircraft staged (refuelled) through Saidor in New Guinea.

1st Lt. Frank W. Hawkey O-829476 described the loss of 1st Lt. Harry F. Long and his aircraft:

“I was flying #5 position directly behind Lt. Long who was flying in #2 position. I saw a burst of AA hit his number #2 engine and almost immediately it was feathered. He then slide down under the nose of my plane and out of view. My co-pilot saw him come out on our left side and said "He is trying to get #2 started".

I then called the flight leader and told him I was going to stay with Lt. Long. Lt. Long then turned to the left and seemed to straighten out but was loosing altitude very fast. I had my power all off and full flaps and was loosing between 2 and 3 thousand feet per minute, but he was going down faster than I.

I was then down to about 3500 feet when I went into a small rain shower and lost sight of the plane for about 15 seconds until I broke out. When I came out I did not see his plane but saw a fire directly ahead. Upon arrival I saw it was only a grass fire. My tail gunner then saw a large puff of black smoke to our left.

Upon reaching the scene I dropped down and saw the wreckage. The two wing tips and tail were fairly well intact, the rest was scattered and burning. Three chutes were seen open on the ground, to the right and close behind the wreckage. In several passes near the wreckage bodies were seen in the chute harnesses.

The wreckage was about 20 miles west of the target in a rice paddy”.

The aircraft was last seen at Latitude/Longitude 10 55N, 106 20E at 13:35 hrs.

This position is some 40 km (24¾ mls) NW of Cholon which is in the southern suburbs of Saigon city.

(1) The only two known American survivors of the crash, T/Sgt. Allen W. Nicks and T/Sgt. Joseph A. DeMaria, were captured and incarcerated at the Kempei Tai prison in Saigon.

Note: This prison was located in the Chamber of Commerce Building in Saigon and under the control of the Kempeitai who were the military police of the Imperial Japanese Army and functioned much like the Gestapo in Nazi Germany.

The circumstances leading to the deaths of the two airmen were determined by a British Military Court convened in Singapore between the 28th March and 3rd April 1946.

Warrant Officer (WO) (Rikugun Jun-i) TOMONO Shunio of the Imperial Japanese Army, was charged with committing a war crime, in that he, at or near Long-Thanh airfield in Saigon, French Indo-China, on or about the month of July 1945, in violation of the laws and usages of war, was concerned in the unlawful killing of T/Sgt. Allen W. Nicks and T/Sgt. Joseph A. DeMaria, both of the US Army Air Force (USAAF), American prisoners of war.

Note: the Japanese word Rikugun preceding a rank indicates that it relates to the army.

The court heard that on day during or about the first part of July 1945, WO. TOMONO Shundo ordered IYOKI Kazuyoshi to accompany him on a special assignment. This order was likewise passed on to L/Cpl. (Rikugun Heichō) KAWAI Yoshio and Sgt. (Rikugun Gunsō) OKOMOTO Yoshima. TOMONO ordered KAWAI and OKOMOTO to bring the two American prisoners from their place of confinement to the rear of the buildings. KAWAI and OKOMOTO bound the hands of T/Sgt. Nicks and T/Sgt. DeMaria and, at the direction of TOMONO, brought them out without shoes. The two Americans were placed in an automobile with TOMONO, ARAI, KAWAI, OKOMOTO and IYOKI. The vehicle was driven to a secluded spot at or near Long-Thanh airfield, ARAI driving and TOMONO directing the route.

TOMONO and ARAI went into a secluded spot in the woods and TOMONO, a short time later, ordered KAWAI to bring the smaller of the two Americans. The smaller American was then taken into the woods to a spot where TOMONO and ARAI were standing and where there was a hole in the ground already prepared. TOMONO compelled the American to kneel down on a pile of dirt beside the hole and, having assured himself that no one was watching, struck the American on the back of the neck with a sword, almost but not completely severing the head from the body. The American died immediately and his body rolled into the hollow in the ground. TOMONO then ordered OKOMOTO to bring the larger American from the vehicle to the same spot. The process was repeated except that this time ARAI wielded the sword and completely decapitated the second American. The bodies were then covered with earth and the spot marked with a cut tree. The Japanese then returned to Saigon.

TOMONO was found guilty of the charge and was sentenced to death by hanging which was confirmed on the 3rd May 1946. The date on which the execution was carried out is not known.

The reasons for IYOKI Kazuyoshi, KAWAI Yoshio and OKOMOTO Yoshima not being before the court are not known.

Burial Details

Above. The Joint Grave marker for 1st Lt. Harry Floyd Long, 2nd Lt. Harold Charles ‘Hal’ Schade, 1st Lt. Robert Keith Oswald, S/Sgt. Edward Allen Martin Jr. (Courtesy of and in memory of fallen graver Bobby Hunt – FindAGrave)

1st Lt. Harry Floyd Long. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Relocated from the Schofield Mausoleum No.2, Schofield Barracks, Thailand and laid to rest at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Plot I, 73-74 (a joint grave), Louisville, Kentucky on the 28th February 1950. Born on the 23rd December 1917 in Beacon, Tennessee. Husband to Birdie L. Long of Parsons, Tennessee, USA.

2nd Lt. Harold Charles ‘Hal’ Schade. Air Medal, Purple Heart. Relocated from the Schofield Mausoleum No.2, Schofield Barracks, Thailand and laid to rest at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Plot I, 73-74 (a joint grave), Louisville, Kentucky on the 28th February 1950. Born on the 25th May 1922 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Son of Harold C. and Edna E. (née McKinnon) Schade. Husband of Berta Suzanne (née King) Schade of Del Rio, Texas, USA.

2nd Lt. Robert Keith Oswald. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster). Relocated from the Schofield Mausoleum No.2, Schofield Barracks, Thailand and laid to rest at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Plot I, 73-74 (a joint grave), Louisville, Kentucky on the 28th February 1950. Also remembered at the Aurora Cemetery, Hamilton County, Nebraska. Born on the 3rd August 1921 in Aurora, Nebraska. Son of Carl Ezra and Bertha Iva (née Adams) Oswald of Aurora, Hamilton County, Nebraska, USA.

Above. Grave marker for 2nd Lt. Robert L. Vetter (Courtesy of Kevin Quattrin – FindAGrave)

2nd Lt. Robert Louis Vetter. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster). Repatriated and laid to rest at the Golden Gate National Cemetery, Section N, Site 2426, San Bruno, California. Born on the 27th March 1917 in South Dakota. Son of Edwin Ezra and Elsa Dorothea (née Claeson) Vetter. Husband to Florence Ann (née Pereria) Vetter of Fowler, California, USA.

His Air Medal was awarded on the 1st February 1945 before he was promoted from T-3862 Flight Officer (FO) to 2nd Lt..

S/Sgt. Edward Allen Martin Jr. Air Medal, Purple Heart. Relocated from the Schofield Mausoleum No.2, Schofield Barracks, Thailand and laid to rest at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Plot I, 73-74 (a joint grave), Louisville, Kentucky on the 28th February 1950. Born on the 8th December 1916 in Annapolis, Maryland. Son of Edward A. and Bernise A. Martin of Clearwater, Pinellas, Florida. Husband to Gloria Patricia (née Burk) Martin of Clearwater, Pinellas, Florida, USA.

Above: Grave marker for Cpl. John F. Sobieski (Courtesy of B. Felix – FindAGrave)

Cpl. John Frances Sobieski. Air Medal, Purple Heart. Repatriated and laid to rest at the Sacred Heart Cemetery, Central City, Pennsylvania. Born on the 13th August 1924 in Central City, Pennsylvania. Son of Joseph James and Mary (née Watycha) Sobieski of Central City, Pennsylvania, USA.

S/Sgt. Norman Brown. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster). His remains were recovered and initially buried in Calcutta, India and then moved to the Hawaiian Islands. He was repatriated and finally laid to rest on the 2nd April 1950 at the Cottage Grove Cemetery, Saline County, Illinois. Born on the 28th February 1924 in El Dorado, Illinois. Son of Chan and Iva F. Brown of El Dorado, Illinois, USA.

Four of his brothers served in the US Forces:

S/Sgt. William R. Brown 36066246 USAAF. His B-17F 42-29536, LL:A ‘Mary Ruth’ of the 91st Bombardment Group, 401st Bombardment Squadron was shot down by German fighters on a mission to the “Chemische Werke Hüls GmbH” in Germany on the 22nd June 1943 (2 KiA, 8 PoW). He was a PoW at Stalag Luft 3;

Cpl. Otto Brown: US Army in Germany;

Pfc. Leonard Brown: US Army in Germany;

Sgt. Frank Brown: Marines in Okinawa, Japan.

S/Sgt. John Lugin. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Relocated from the Schofield Mausoleum No.2, Schofield Barracks, Thailand and laid to rest at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific Plot P, Grave 518, Honolulu, Hawaii on the 15th December 1949. Born on the 9th February 1918 in Worcester, Massachusetts. Son of Władysław Walter and Bronisława Blanche (née Sonticki) Lugin of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA.

Above: T/Sgt. Allen W. Nicks - Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing (Courtesy of the ABMC)

T/Sgt. Allen William Nicks. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing. (Date of death is given as the 5th July 1945). Born on the 26th November 1922 in Tyler, Texas. Son of Allen Anslum and Eleanor Mae (née Wise) Nicks of Tyler, Texas, USA.

T/Sgt. Nicks was Declared Dead (DED) on the 5th July 1945.

S/Sgt. William Judson Thames Jr. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster). Repatriated and laid to rest at the Forest Park Cemetery at Fort Smith, Arkansas. Born on the 23rd January 1924 at Fort Smith, Sebastian, Arkansas. Son of William Judson and Essie Burke (née Morgan) Thames of Fort Smith, Arkansas, USA.

Above: T/Sgt. Joseph A. DeMaria - Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing (Courtesy of the ABMC)

T/Sgt. Joseph Anthony DeMaria. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Purple Heart. Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing. (Date of death is given as the 5th July 1945). Born on the 30th September 1922 in Milford, Massachusetts. Son of Raffaele and Angelina (née Calzone) DeMaria of Milford, Massachusetts, USA.

T/Sgt. DeMaria was Declared Dead (DED) on the 5th July 1945

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.

Other sources listed below:

RS & TV 18.09.2023 - Initial Upload

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Acknowledgments: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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