1944 — British Isles
Frank Albert Kappeler, 0-419579, Lieutenant Colonel
Navigator Crew 11
Served in the European Theater of Operations from November, 1943 until June, 1945. 323rd Bomb Group, 454th Bomb Squad, Navigator.
Graduated high school in 1932 and Polytechnic College of Engineering, Oakland, California. Transferred to Aviation Cadet training in December, 1939 and was commissioned a second lieutenant, June, 1941 at McChord Field, Washington with rating as navigator. Later received training as bombardier. Remained in China-Burma-India Theater after Tokyo Raid until August, 1942. Served in European Theater of Operations from November, 1943 until June, 1945. Stateside assignments after the war included bases in Texas, Ohio, California before returning overseas to Japan where he served from May, 1951, until February, 1952. Deputy Commander, Minuteman Site Activation Task Force, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. Decorations include Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 2 Silver Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star Medal, and Chinese Army, Navy, and Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade.
Born January 2, 1914, San Francisco, California
Died June, 23rd, 2010, Santa Rosa, California
Airplane #40-2249 Take off at 0856 (8:56am) Ship Time
Ø Took off from Hornet without difficulty.
Ø Navigation accomplished at minimum altitude. Twenty-five knot head wind observed to landfall.
Ø Landfall made considerably north of expected course. Continued low altitude navigation overland. Crossed an active airfield unexpectedly. Intercepted approximately ten minutes later by four new type fighters (Later proved to be the Japanese Toni) and underwent sustained attack. One was observed to be hit by turret gunner which wobbled off and was believed to have crashed. The second hit was seen in flames. Slight damage sustained by remaining two fighters when turret gunner exhausted ammunition.
Ø All four 500 lb. incendiary cluster bombs dropped on a large oil refinery and storage area which were well camouflaged but easily detected from low altitude. Bombs dropped from 600 feet because of fighter opposition. After bombs were dropped it was not difficult to outrun fighters. Smoke column from target observed billowing to several thousand feet at least fifty miles from target.
Ø Three patrol boats were attacked with machine gun fire near mouth of Tokyo Bay. One was left burning.
Ø Tail wind discovered while heading south for China coast. Navigation accomplished at minimum altitude except for 20 minutes spent in cloud deck at 2,500 feet to inspect plane for damage. Right engine missed irregularly on withdrawal.
Ø Bad weather encountered 100 to 150 miles from China coast. Proceeded on instruments and crew bailed out 200 miles inland from China coast. Plane left on A.F.C.E. and flew another 150 miles before crashing.
Ø Lt. Reddy suffered a broken knee cap and a severe cut on the forehead. Sgt. Gardner sprained both ankles slightly. Crew arrived safely at Chuchow on the late evening of April 20th.
Ø Bail out occurred at 2330 (11:30pm), over fourteen and one half hours after take off.
Doolittle Tokyo Raider "Crew #11 Photo description; Forty-eight hours after the crew of bomber #11 bailed out, they pose for a picture after being reunited in a small Chinese town before being moved to Chuhsien.
From left are, Sgt. William Birch, bombardier; Lt. Frank Kappeler, navigator; Capt. C. Ross Greening, pilot; Lt. Ken Reddy, co-pilot; and Sgt. Melvin Gardner, engineer/gunner.
***** Served in the European Theater of Operations from November, 1943 until June, 1945. ********
March, 2012; From the 323rd BG Historian Roy Bozych;
The other night I was reading an article about the upcoming annual reunion of the Doolittle Raiders at the National Museum of the US Air Force this coming April 17th to April 20th., 2012 ... Listed in the article where the names of the surviving Doolittle Raiders. In looking at the list I noticed Frank Kappeler’s name was missing. For those of you were unaware, one of Frank’s later WWII assignments was as a lead navigator with the 323rd BG. He was alsothe navigator on plane # 11 in the Doolittle Raid. I wrote a short article about him on page 14 of our spring 2010 news letter.
A quick internet search produced an obit for Frank from June 23, 2010 which I have attached to this e-mail for everyone. Please join me in offering his wife Betty and the rest of Frank’s family our belated condolences and prayers on the passing of a great WWII Veteran.
Roy R. Bozych
323rd BG Historian