7 Dec 1941 — Hickam Field, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii
Then 1Lt Ted S. Faulkner was the pilot of a B-24A destroyed at Hickam Field in the Territory of Hawaii. He led a nine man crew of four officers & five enlisted men. The crew was one of two recon crews that volunteered for a secret "pre-war" photo recon mission that had been planned by the big brass on 26 Nov 1941. Faulkner's crew were all from the 88th Recon Squadron which was in the process of deploying with B-17's from their old base of Fort Douglas, Salt Lake City, Utah, and were enroute to codename "Plum" which was in the Philippines.
Faulkner had recently returned from "detached service" with the relatively new Ferry Command. In Dec 1941 the Army Air Corps were taking delivery of B-17's, but most of the Consolidated B-24 planes were being delivered as LB-30 for British use in Europe. The Army Air Corps only had eleven B-24's of any variant: one B-24 & one XB-24 prototype, and nine B-24A aircraft. None of the AAC B-24's were combate ready. They had been stripped of their guns, armor plate, bomb shackles, and floors had been installed over the bomb bays to facilitate the carrying of passengers & cargo. The B-24A's were primarily used along the east coast of America and two had been used a few months earlier in support of the Averell Harriman & Lord Beaverbrook mission to Moscow. One of those planes returned the regular route, the other had returned the long way around and had flown over the Philippines and some Japanese mandated islands.
Two different B-24A's were ordered out for the 26 Nov 1941 mission which is often referred to as the Marshall/Carolines recon project. Faulkner accepted B-24A 40-2371 and after a brief local checkout with Consolidated reps at Sacramento Air Depot (SAD), the crew launched around 2pm on 3 Dec 1941 for Hamilton Field, just north of San Francisco in San Rafael, Marin, California. Bad weather over the Pacific prevented their departure that night. They were joined at Hamilton Field on 4 Dec 1941 by 1Lt Harvey J. Watkins and his crew in the second B-24A that was assigned to this project. (That B-24A may have been 40-2374. Check!) Both planes departed Hamilton Field CA on the evening of 4 Dec 1941. Faulkner departed around 9pm and Watkins around 9:20pm. About an hour out, Watkins turned back to Sacramento due to ongoing mechanical problems that had plagued his plane since before arrived in Sacramento.
Faulkner's plane arrived safely on the morning on 5 Dec 1941 at Hickam Field in the Territory of Hawaii. It was met by armed guards and at least two general officers. The plane was taken to the Hawaiian Air Depot to continue installing guns. It had arrived with only a twin .50 caliber tail gun & a stowable .30 caliber nose gun that had been installed at Sacramento within the past week or so. It also had to have a fuel pump replaced in one of the fuel tanks. The Hawaiian maintenance crews were tasked with trying to refit or recreate the missing armor plate, gun mounts, and bomb shackles. They were still working on that task on Sunday morning, consequently there were many maintenance and signals personnel around the plane when the bombs began to land on Hickam Field. The first three bombs landed on hangar 15, 17 & in that vicinity. The bombs and subsequent strafing caused the B-24A to be the first American military plane destroyed on Hickam Field during the opening minutes of WW-II.
Faulkner, his co-pilot, and one of the enlisted men were uninjured in the bombing & air raid that day. The navigator, 2Lt Louis Gustav Moslener, Jr., was decapitated by one of the initial bombs, by some reports, he was inside hangar 15. He has often been cited as the first American military casualty of WW-II. Another crew member, Pvt. Daniel J. Powloski was killed by a bomb near the parade ground in the second wave of bombing. Two crew members were seriously wounded: 2Lt Walter Snowdon Smith, III (the bombardier / relief pilot), and S/Sgt Theodore Vaughn Hobbie (flight engineer?). Two others were slightly wounded: Elwyn O. Rahier and Kenneth T. (?) Gradle. Rahier may have been near the plane and suffered a concussion and ear damage. Gradle was wounded by bomb shrapnel in the left calf (?) as he left the central barracks.
Faulkner & co-pilot Campbell survived 7 Dec 1941 uninjured and located & accounted for the entire crew over the next few days. With their B-24A and their planned for "1941 Spy Flight" having come to a "sudden and tragic end", they were assigned to a B-17 and temporarily relocated to Wheeler Field where they flew recon picket missions from Oahu for the next month or two. With a new crew, they departed with the first (?) of two flights of B-17's around 18 Feb. They spent 10 days supporting a Task Force out of Fiji that involved the USS Enterprise. They may have been in Java, but eventually they settled into what became the 19th Bomb Group and the 435th Recon (Heavy), aka "The Kangaroo Squadron", operating primarily out of Townsville, North Queensland, Australia.
The participated in the evacuation of Philippine president, Manuel L. Quezon and his family & staff from the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. They also participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the recon & bombing of Rabaul.
Around the end of 1942 the 435th had been sent stateside to provide crew relief and provide experience based training for aircrews heading out to the South Pacific.
Ted Faulkner eventually returned to the South Pacific, and was made Group Commander (?) of the 19th Bomb Group (?). He was flying out of Kharagapur (sp?), India. On a night combat mission that departed 4/5 Nov 1944 (from memory, his B-29 Superfortress was seen to apparently explode and crash in the ocean at night. Subsequent searching found 3 life rafts tied together, but no survivors. The crew was carried on the roster as missing and declared dead about 2 years later in 1946. Since no bodies were ever recovered, they are listed on the memorial tablet in the South Pacific, but there is no official burial site.