28 November 1944 — Isley Field, Saipan, Mariana Islands
Born Joseph Robert Irvin on 15 July 1920 at Georgia.
Enlisted as an Aviation Cadet in the Army Air Corps on 10 February 1941 at Montgomery, Alabama. Primary pilot training at Dallas; Basic pilot class at Curtis Field near Brady, Texas. Received pilot wings and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant graduating with Advanced Class 41-G on 26 September 1941 at Kelly Field, Texas. Flew twin-engine B-25B aircraft on ASW patrols with the 40th Bomb Squadron of the 13th Bomb Group (M) at Westover Field, Massachusetts. Assigned to southwest England with the 4th Antisubmarine Squadron of the 479th Antisubmarine Group (H) to fly B-24 killer hunts against German U-Boats in the Bay of Biscay off the western coast of France.
Volunteered for the B-29 Program and underwent aircraft transition and combat crew training at Walker Army Air Field, Kansas. On 9 November 1944, deployed from Mather Field, California to the Central Pacific Theatre of Operations and was assigned to 20th Air Force, XXI Bomber Command, 73rd Bomb Wing, 500th Bombardment Group (VH), 881st Bomb Squadron stationed at Isley Field on Saipan in the Mariana Islands.
On 27 November 1944, he flew in the left seat as the Airplane Command Pilot aboard a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, tail code Z-Square-2 (serial #42-24662).
It was one of 81 aircraft launched in a multi-group formation to bombard the Musashino Aircraft Plant and Nakajima Aircraft Engine Factory near Tokyo, Japan. He was killed when his battle damaged aircraft ran low on fuel and was forced to ditch in the ocean approximately 200 miles north of Saipan.
On 28 November 1944, his last known position at 21 degrees North and 147 degrees East was extensively searched by the Destroyers USS Roe and USS Fanning, and three Air-Sea Rescue “Dumbo” aircraft, with no aircraft wreckage or survivors found. On 3 December 1944, a life raft was sighted in the crash area and the 73rd Bomb Wing authorized the use of a B-24 for a final search and rescue mission flown by Captain Ferdinand John Curtis (a former 41-G classmate); with negative results.