The 1st Pathfinder Squadron of the Ninth Air Force was located at Station A-72, Peronne, France. Peronne was located very near the Belgium boarder in northern France. The 1st Pathfinder Squadron was a provisional unit that did not exist except on paper but was attached to the 322nd Bomb Group. The group provided bad weather leads to all Ninth Air Force bombing groups. The Squadron flew B-26 Marauders that were equipped with the British “Oboc” radar bombing system. This device with screens and ancillary equipment located in the navigators’ compartment was designed to lead bombing groups on missions where the targets were obscured by bad weather. The fuselage code was (1H).
Captain Paul Henry Jones was pilot of the B-26B-50-MA 42-95933 with 2nd Lt. Robert L. Richmond as co-pilot. There were seven crewmen aboard.
The mission on 2 March 1945 was to Giessen, Germany. At approximately 17:20 hours while over the target, the B-26 was hit by an enemy aircraft. Their aircraft was hit from the front by two Fw 190s. In the air attack, Jones was able to return fire and hit one Fw 190 which was a long nose D9, serial No. 500 393. The Luftwaffe pilot managed to bail out before the plane crashed, but parachuted into the Lahn River. The river was especially high and fast moving and the pilot, Werner Stempel with 1.Staffel of the 1.Gruppe, drowned. Stempel was buried in the cemetery at Stockhausen a few miles west of Wetzlar, Germany.
An eyewitness account from the Missing Air Crew Report 12838 states:
Several crews of this [394th Bomb] Group reported that The Pathfinder aircraft was attacked by enemy aircraft in the vicinity of the primary target. (Giessen). The left engine of the Pathfinder aircraft was on fire after the attack but the fire was believed to have gone out although the engine continued to smoke.
Three crews believe the Pathfinder aircraft was escorted by two P-38’s to the bomb line where last seen. Another crew reports that the Pathfinder aircraft was losing altitude rapidly and was very low when last seen. This crew also reports that the Pathfinder aircraft was still in enemy territory when last seen.
Co-pilot 2nd Lt. Richmond later stated that he and two other crew members bailed out. He also stated that Staff Sgt. William DeCow, who was the radio operator on the mission, told him (Richmond) that Tech Sgt. Henry M. Isenberg was the first man to bail out, and that Sgt. DeCow had to push Tech Sgt. Robert H. Folsom, the tail gunner, out after him. The aircraft crashed in the vicinity of Dutenhofen near Wetzlar, Germany. Four crew members lost their lives.