This individual is one of 514 missing heroes from the Battle of Tarawa for which our founder conducted extensive research in an attempt to find and return home while a member of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC). Our Foundation has continued these efforts. If you are a family member, please feel free to contact our charitable foundation for more information at www.ChiefRickStone.com. There is absolutely no charge for our services. The Chief Rick Stone and Family Charitable Foundation
B-24J-1-CO "Galloping Gus" Serial Number 42-72999
Pilot 1st Lt Howard T. Lurcott, O-665064 819th BS (MIA / KIA) St. Louis, MS
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. George M. Johnson, O-534947 38th BS (MIA / KIA) DE
Navigator 2nd Lt. Stanley J. Alenier, O-801180 819th BS (MIA / KIA) Troy, NY
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Stephen J. Dabrowski, O-669210 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Engineer SSgt Donald L. Polzien, 17038352 (MIA / KIA, BR) NB
Radio SSgt Carl M. Shaffer, 33186567 819th BS (MIA / KIA) PA
Asst. Radar SSgt John F. Fenzel, 33064378 819th BS (MIA / KIA) MD
Asst. Engineer SSgt James W. Shell, 14047616 819th BS (MIA / KIA) GA
Armorer-Gunner SSgt Arthur E. Myers, 35038018 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Radar-Gunner Sgt Howard Rothman, 32075843 819th BS (MIA / KIA) NJ
Crashed January 21, 1944 at 12:38am
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 2542. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried to Hawaii then to the central Pacific.
Assigned to the 7th Air Force, 30th Bombardment Group, 38th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Galloping Gus". On November 12, 1943, this bomber was based at Nanumea Airfield and flew at least eight combat missions, sometimes staging from Tarawa Airfield (Hawkins Field).
When lost, engine serial numbers R-1830-65 serial numbers 42-90414, 42-90076, 42-89485 and 42-89998. Aboard were ten .50 caliber machine guns, serial numbers 677866, 677332, 671009, 671774, 671523, 677467, 748982, 671076, 670983 and 670898. Also aboard were two .30 caliber machine guns serial numbers 18140 and 27877. Plus, one pyrotechnic pistol M-8 serial number unknown.
On January 21, 1944 took off from Tarawa Airfield (Hawkins Field) on Tarawa (Betio) at 12:21am piloted by Skaalen on a bombing mission against Roi Island at Kwajalein Atoll. This bomber took off seventeen minutes after B-24J "Miss Bee Haven" 42-72982. After take off to the east, the engines did not sound as though they were developing power. After reaching an altitude of roughly 250' to 300', the bomber started to settle slowly. At 12:38am crashed into the seas roughly 3 miles to the east outside Tarawa Lagoon. On impact, the B-24 blew up in two distinct explosions heard on Tarawa. The entire crew was presumed to be killed in the crash and were all listed as Missing In Action (MIA). The crash was believed to have been caused by water in the gas.
This B-24 sank into to Tarawa Lagoon at a depth of 24'.
Recovery of Remains
After the crash, the remains of three of the crew, later identified as Dabrowski, Polzien and Myers were recovered and buried on in the main Marine Cemetery no. 33 on Tarawa (Betio). In March 1946 the graves of these crew members were exhumed and relocated to Lone Pine Cemetery on Tarawa (Betio). Afterwards, the remains of Dabrowski and Myers were again exhumed and transported to U. S. Army Mausoleum at Schofield Barracks on Oahu before being transported to the United States for permanent burial.
The seven crew members killed in the crash were officially declared dead the day of the mission. All seven are memorialized at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at the court of the missing, court 7.
Two of the crew also have additional memorial markers. Johnson also has a memorial marker at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Seaford, DE. Polzien also has a memorial marker at Fort McPherson National Cemetery section MA, site 10. He also has another memorial marker at Jefferson Cemetery in Jefferson, IA.
Dabrowski is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at plot C, grave 1314.
Myers is buried at Dresden Cemetery in Dresden, OH at block 5, row 10.
Missing Air Crew Report 2629 (MACR 2629) report created February 18, 1944