20 DECEMBER 1942



B-25D Mitchell, #41-29706 "Lola", of the 90th Bomb Squadron, 3rd Bomb Group, USAAF, disappeared about 70 miles north of Osprey Reef area about 140 miles from the Australian coast on 20 December 1942 during bad weather. No further news. It was was one of seven B-25 Mitchells in the process of making a permanent move from Charters Towers to Port Moresby.

They had encountered heavy rain on their journey to New Guinea. The heavy rain soon turned into severe thunderstorms. The B-25s were tossed around in the strong winds. They flew single file through the bad weather. As Lieutenant Richard H. Launder flew behind Lt. Donald K. Emerson, he watched Emersonís aircraft disappear into the clouds. Launder followed Emerson into another storm. Without warning, Emersonís aircraft appeared from nowhere in front of Launder. Emerson pulled up and over Launderís B-25 just in time, then crashed into the ocean. Launder, who suspected that Emerson had stalled and could not recover, circled the crash site, but could not see any survivors. All signs of the crashed aircraft had disappeared below the water within a minute.



Donald K. Emerson

First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces


90th Bomber Squadron, 3rd Bomber Group, Large

Entered the Service from: California
Died: December 20, 1942
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery Manila, Philippines 
Awards: Silver Star 


The total crew who were all killed was as follows:-

1st/Lt. Donald K. Emerson (#0-429773), Pilot
1/Lt. Robert F. Miller,  Co-Pilot {perhaps this may be 1st Lt Lloyd C. Miller (#0-442215)}
S/Sgt. Albert Belcher (#13032940), Bombardier
S/Sgt. Ernest R. Fanta (#6970848), Gunner
S/Sgt. Everett E. Walker (#20619398), Radio/Gunner
Pvt. William S. Vidmar (#37272329), Engineer
Sgt. Donald D. Ruth (#15069709), Passenger
Sgt. Richard H. St. Sauveur (#11024215), Passenger
Sgt. Stephen L. Taylor (#6580269), Passenger
PFC. Delmar A. Klemmer (#19062529), Passenger
T/Sgt Paul T Ervin (#6971474)



Subject:    Crewmen lost aboard B-25D 41-29706
Date:             Sun, 26 Dec 99 18:40:09 -0700
From:            "Lawrence J. Hickey"


RE: your request for the crewmen lost aboard B-25D 41-29706 of the 90/3 on 20 Dec 42 in a crash while enroute to Port Moresby from Charters Towers, Queensland.

The ten aboard were:

EMERSON, 1/Lt. Donald K. Pilot
MILLER, 1/Lt. Robert F. Co-Pilot
BELCHER, S/Sgt. Albert Bombardier
FANTA, S/Sgt. Elmer R. Gunner
WALKER, S/Sgt. Everett E. Radio/Gunner
VIDMAR, Pvt. William S. Engineer
RUTH, Sgt. Donald D. Passenger
ST. SAUVEUR, Sgt. Richard H. Passenger
TAYLOR, Sgt. Stephen L. Passenger
KLEMMER, PFC. Delmar A. Passenger

Strangely, one of the members of this crew was carried as a POW as of mid-1944. This was S/Sgt. Ermer R. Fanta. Don't yet know the details, but will eventually get this (maybe picked up by a Japanese submarine?). If any of your site readers know anything about this, I'd like to hear from them. If Fanta was a POW, it is very unlikely that he survived imprisonment by the Japanese. The others were all carried as killed.

Emerson was a former A-20 pilot recently transferred to the 90th Sq., and the rest of his crew was well-experienced, having completed 20-30 combat missions by the time of the crash.

Yes, you can use the information I sent you on your web site, and yes, you did ID your site cross reference to 41-29709 correctly.

Larry Hickey



I would like to thank the late Larry Hickey for the above information on this crash.

I'd also like to thank Julee Bruce, niece of S/Sgt. Ernest R Fanta, for her assistance with this web page. Julee advised that they had received information that showed there were 11 passengers on the aircraft.


SOURCE:-   Aircraft Crash Sites - Australia

Crash:         No. 20

Position:     13.50 - 146.06

Department of Aviation Chart No:       3112


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This page first produced 16 June 1999

This page last updated 02 March 2022