"CHIEF SEATTLE"
A B-17 FLYING FORTRESS

OF THE 435TH BOMB SQUADRON
THE "KANGAROO" SQUADRON
OF THE 19TH BOMB GROUP
CRASHED ON 14 AUGUST 1942

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visits since 8 July 2001

 

"Chief Seattle"

 

Pilot - Wilson L. Cook, 1st Lt.
Co-Pilot - George S. Andrews, F/Sgt, RAAF
Navigator - Hubert S. Mobley, 2nd. Lt.
Bombardier - Joseph R. Cunningham, 2nd Lt.
Engineer - Elwyn O. Rahier, T/Sgt.
Asst. Engineer - John J. Dunbar, S/Sgt.
Radio Operator - Irving W. McMichael, T/Sgt.
Ass't Radio Operator - Charles M. Hartman, Cpl.
Gunner - Richard K. Pastor, Cpl.
Gunner - David B. Beatie, Pvt.

 

"Chief Seattle" was a B-17 Flying Fortress presented to the U.S. Army Air Corps by the people of Seattle.

 


Photo:- via Richard Alexander

Corporal Richard K. Pastor

 

"CHIEF SEATTLE" AND CREW
John T. Compton
1st Lt. Air Corps

Long before daylight one August morning, I watched "Chief Seattle" take to the air, from a landing strip, somewhere in the interior of New Guinea. Her hot exhausts looked like dim deadlights disappearing.

"Chief Seattle" (a Boeing B-17E) the Army's well named Flying Fortress, was presented to the Air Corps by the people of Seattle, Washington.

On her crew were men from the 435th Bombardment Squadron, men that we all were proud to know. One of the 435th's best, if the 435th had a best.

Her Captain was Lieutenant Wilson L. Cook, a medium built, quiet, modest Oklahoma boy. I knew him well; we learned to fly together, were room-mates at Kelly Field and had been together ever since. He knew that this mission was dangerous, that it was important, important to so many. But as he lifted the huge ship from the narrow runway of this unsettled island that was so far away from his country and his home, he was not afraid. He never once thought of the dangers he'd meet. His thoughts were of what he had to do, how he would do it, help win the war and get back home. As I saw him circle away out of sight, I knew he'd be back if anyone could, for he was a veteran. He had flown this area and knew it by heart. He flew into Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and was in the Philippines, had flown 45 missions. He learned all he knew the hard way; and he had a good crew. He had a lot of faith in each one.

His Navigator, was Lt. Hubert Mobley, from Florida, a tall, lean, likable boy, just out of school and into the war. A boy of 21 with navigation experience that few will ever surpass. He too had navigation experience that few will ever surpass. He too had approximately 45 missions to his credit, and was in the Philippines and his record was good.

His bombardier, was in Hawaii when we received orders to go south. We were the first and we needed the best Bombardiers. They gave us Lieutenant Joe Cunningham. A well built, quiet boy from Travelers Rest, South Carolina. The Hawaiian Department had not made a mistake. He was one of our best and had done his share in the Coral Sea Battle, New Guinea and New Britain areas. Dropping bombs on ships, airdromes and then shooting his way back home by manning a gun down in the nose.

His Co-pilot was George S. Andrews, a husky, likable cheerful, well-mannered man from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. A man whose own home was in danger from the Japanese invasion forces. He was on of a very few who were selected from the Royal Australian Air Force to learn to fly the American made Flying Fortresses -- a man that his country and ours may well be proud of.

S/Sgt. Elwyn Rahier, whose good gunnery had helped this crew out of many a close call, was the Aerial Engineer. He was an old hand and had a score to even, as he had been wounded in Pearl Harbor and returned to do his part.

Technical Sergeant Irving McMichael, the Radio Operator and gunner from Lincoln, Nebraska, had seen much of war as anyone. He was on duty in England, came back to the United States just in time to land in Pearl Harbor. He fought in the Philippines, New Guinea and the whole South Pacific.

Staff Sergeant John Dunbar, from Tujunga, California, a big, husky boy always ready to fight it out with the Japs, and had already done more than his share. He was one of those fortunate enough to get out of the battle-scarred Java just before it was too late, and in time to help out in New Guinea and New Britain.

Corporal Charles Hartman another gunner and radioman and another veteran of Java, had volunteered for this trip. He was a quiet country boy from Gettysburg, South Dakota, a young lad who had to learn how to fight the hard way. It wasn't his flight; he volunteered for another who was ill.

Private David Beattie, young in the Army, one of the first volunteers for a special radio school, wasn't with us as long as the rest but in a short time had done so well.

Corporal Richard Pastor a rough and ready boy with lots of whatever it takes, for an aerial gunner, was from Lynbrook, Long Island. He was one of those boys that we received when we asked for the best that the Hawaiian Department could give. And they gave us exactly that. He started in the war December 7, 1941, and had followed it since.

It was men like these that flew "Chief Seattle" out beyond friendly waters and far back of enemy lines, to bring back that ever important information. Exactly what was the enemy doing at Rabaul Harbour, was what this crew went to find out. They were always ready for the toughest missions. How little did they know what awaited them this morning. How little did I think this ship, that  the people of Seattle had given, carrying a crew that i knew well, fading out in the distance over The Owen Stanley Range would not again return that evening; and the crew would not be talking and everybody laughing about their troubles or luck that they would have that day.

I waited that evening until long after there was no hope, long after I knew their gas would be gone. Then my hope was that they had landed somewhere on some other island and would be safe. Days, weeks, and now months have gone by. Nothing was ever heard. No radio contact was ever made. Where these brave boys may be or what their fates might be, whether lives have been spared we do not know. But of the things we are sure, that there are no greater men than those who give their lives in war that we may live out in Peace.

 


 

The following information on the crew of the crew of "Chief Seattle" is from the Commonwealth War Graves home page:-

 

In Memory of

GEORGE STEWART ANDREWS

Sergeant, 6694, Royal Australian Air Force, who died on Friday, 14th August 1942. Age 27.

Son of Harold and Louisa Annie Andrews, of Brisbane, Queensland.

Memorial: PORT MORESBY MEMORIAL, Papua New Guinea
Grave Reference/Panel Number:  Panel 9.

 

The following information on the crew of "Chief Seattle" was from the American Battle Monuments Commission Home Page:-

 

Wilson L. Cook, First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces, 0-417007, 435th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy, Entered the Service from: Oklahoma, Died: December 7, 1945, Missing in Action or Buried at Sea, Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery Manila, Philippines, Awards: Silver Star, Purple Heart

Hubert S. Mobley, Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces, 0-441131, 435th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heav, Entered the Service from: Florida, Died: December 7, 1945, Missing in Action or Buried at Sea, Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery Manila, Philippines, Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf, Cluster, Purple Heart

Joseph R. Cunningham, First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces, 0-433008, 435th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy, Entered the Service from: South Carolina, Died: December 7, 1945, Missing in Action or Buried at Sea, Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery Manila, Philippines, Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart

Elwyn O. Rahier, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Forces, 06566980, 435th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy, Entered the Service from: Minnesota, Died: December 7, 1945, Missing in Action or Buried at Sea, Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery Manila, Philippines, Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart

Irving W. Mc Michael, Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Forces, 06580398, 435th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy, Entered the Service from: Nebraska, Died: December 7, 1945, Missing in Action or Buried at Sea, Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery Manila, Philippines, Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart

Charles M. Hartman, Corporal, U.S. Army Air Forces, 06583190, 435th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy, Entered the Service from: South Dakota, Died: December 7, 1945, Missing in Action or Buried at Sea, Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines, Awards: Purple Heart

John J. Dunbar, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Forces, 06576420, 435th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy, Entered the Service from: California, Died: December 7, 1945, Missing in Action or Buried at Sea, Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery Manila, Philippines, Awards: Purple Heart

David B. Beattie, Private, U.S. Army Air Forces, 16039053, 435th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy, Entered the Service from: Michigan, Died: December 7, 1945, Missing in Action or Buried at Sea, Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery Manila, Philippines, Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart

Richard K. Pastor, Corporal, U.S. Army Air Force,s 12007946, 435th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy, Entered the Service from: New York, Died: December 7, 1945, Missing in Action or Buried at Sea, Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery Manila, Philippines, Awards: Purple Heart

 

Note:- Some sources have sometimes incorrectly titled this aircraft "Chief of Seattle".

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Bill Bentson and Al Chapman for their assistance with this home page.

I'd also like to thank Richard Alexander whose mother is a cousin of Corporal Richard Pastor.

 

Can anyone help me with more information ?

 

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This page first produced 8 July 2001

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