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James Howard Darden
22 December 1944 | Nagoya, Japan
Enlisted as an Aviation Cadet in the Army Air Corps on 1 January 1941 at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Graduated from the Air Corps Primary Flying School at Randolph Field near San Antonio, Texas and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. He flew twin-engine B-25 Mitchell bombers with the Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command, and four-engine B-24 Liberators in the European Theater of Operations. Underwent B-29 aircraft transition and operational combat crew training at Smoky Hill Army Air Field near Salina, Kansas.
Deployed to the Central Pacific Theatre of Operations and was assigned to 20th Air Force, XXI Bomber Command, 73rd Bomb Wing, 499th Bombardment Group, 877th Bomb Squadron stationed at Isley Field on Saipan in the Mariana Islands.
On 22 December 1944, he flew in the left seat as the Airplane Command Pilot aboard a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, Tail Code V-Square-7 (Serial #42-24684). It was one of 78 aircraft launched in a multi-group formation to bombard the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Company and Aircraft Engine Plants near Nagoya, Japan. Flak from anti-aircraft artillery was heavy and Japanese fighter aircraft attacks were described as moderate, with 508 passes reported. His aircraft sustained damage to the #3 engine from a head-on attack by a single-engine “Tony” Kawasaki Ki-61 fighter aircraft. Several enemy fighter planes attacked his aircraft as it fell back from the formation and began losing altitude. His aircraft was last sighted approximately 90 nautical miles south of Nagoya, at a geographic location of 33 degrees +40 minutes North and 137 degrees +17 minutes East.
His aircraft never returned to Saipan and he was declared killed in action one year later.