04 MARCH 1945
First Lieutenant Frank Rauschkolb, pilot of "Playmate Four Two", (awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for this mission per G.O. 42 dated 11 July 1945) departed Morotai at 0515, on a mission to cover a B-25 strike on Zamboanga. He arrived at Malanipa Island, his orbit point, at 0930. Immediately upon arrival at his destination, he received a radio message that B-25's had been shot down off the target. The air was filled with distress calls and directions to the survivors. Lieutenant Rauschkolb headed for the target and sighted a crew down in the water about one mile of shore. As he was circling to land near the raft, Lieutenant Rauschkolb observed several Jap barges firing at him. He called for the B-25's to strafe the barges and keep them off until he could effect the rescue of the surviving crew. He landed and taxied to the raft through a hail of machine gun and mortar fire and took five members of the crew aboard, the sixth having gone down with the ship. Except for minor bruises, none were seriously hurt. The Catalina then taxied toward the second crew down on a reef 500 yards off shore. As Lieutenant Rauschkolb approached the crew, shore batteries opened up on the rescue plane but he continued on and took the six survivors aboard. During the taxiing one of the engines was shut down for fifteen minutes due to overheating. As soon as the survivors were aboard, Lieutenant Rauschkolb taxied through the coral reef toward the open sea, out of gun range of the Japs. The sea provided to be too rough for take-off, so Lieutenant Rauschkolb elected to taxi the 15 miles to the other crew, which was down just off Malanipa Island near the Southern tip of Zamboanga Peninsula.

The rescue ship was guided to the third surviving crew by two B-25's. Water was leaking into the ship thru flare tubes in the tunnel hatch, flooding the rear compartment. The crew members and survivors bailed vigorously to keep the water down. At 1130, the third crew was sighted and taken aboard. The ship proved to be overloaded so Lieutenant Rauschkolb jettisoned 400 gallons of fuel and began his take-off run with 25 men aboard and a badly leaking hull. The ship was airborne at 1140 and headed for home. The two circling B-25's dipped their wings and likewise headed for home. The rescue ship arrived at Morotai at 1645, where the survivors were transferred to the 155th Station Hospital.

The survival of 17 out of 18 crewmembers is a tribute to the training of the B-25 crews in ditching procedures. The crewmember who was lost had left the ship and appeared to be unhurt. However, he suddenly disappeared below the waves. Presumably, he was killed by enemy fire from shore as he was floating in the water. Lieutenant Rauschkolb displayed the highest courage and skill in effecting the rescue of these three crews, fulfilling the highest traditions of the rescue service. The survivors stated that they were on a low level bombing and strafing mission on Zamboanga and adjacent military objectives. They had been over the target on previous occasions and had encountered very little anti-aircraft fire, but this time the anti-aircraft fire was intense and accurate, shooting down three planes and hitting several others. They were fortunate to escape being injured or wounded.

THE SURVIVORS: members of the 42nd Bomb Group were as follows: CREW #1: 2nd Lt. W.H. Clampit, 2nd Lt. Russel M. Brown, 2nd Lt. R.D. Johnson, Sergeant R.E. Fain, and Sergeant J. Busalacclai. CREW #2: 1st Lt. Ely Sherl, 2nd Lt. H.W. Paitt, 2nd Lt. C.M. Christianson, Tech Sergeant N.W. Anderson, Staff Sergeant A.G. Lewis, and Corporal W.C. Myan, 75th Bomb Squadron. CREW #3: 2nd Lt. E.G. Bearman, 1st Lt. J.A. Ballard, 2nd Lt. Thomas Cockrell, Tech Sergeant Stephen J. Deak, Tech Sergeant E.A. Matthews, and Corporal A.N. Tyler, 390th Bomb Squadron. (see a photo of this crew in front of the rescue ship!)

Download the mission report from the official file.

Read the Commendation Letter by the XIII Bomber Command!

the story as told by Tech Sergeant Ed Matthews!

Read the story as told by Co-Pilot Bill Helmantoler. Read how it was reported in the news!

The rest of the crew were awarded the Silver Star for their actions on this mission. Read the award.

USAAF SERNO: 44-33876 (CV-326)**
"Playmate 42"  
(Pilot) 1st Lt. Frank Rauschkolb, (Co-Pilot) Captain Willis L. Helmantoler, (Navigator) 1st Lt. John M. Reeves, (Engineer) Tech Sergeant Robert S. Jones, (Radio) Staff Sergeant Clarence E. Friestad, (AR) Private Robert W. Logan, (Radar) Staff Sergeant James B. Standridge, Jr., (Flight Surgeon) Captain Nicholas E. Bailey
FLIGHT LENGTH: 11 hours 00 minutes

The narrative of these rescues was compiled and published in April 1946 from logbooks of pilots, notes, letters, and other
information by secretary Marina G. de Guzman in Pampanga, Philippines.

  * Aircraft produced at Canadian Vickers Ldt, Cartierville, Quebec, Canada
** Canadian Vickers contract number that was unique to each aircraft produced by at the Cartierville, Quebec plan


MARCH '45 - APRIL '45 - MAY '45 - JUNE '45 -
JULY '45  - AUGUST '45 - SEPTEMBER '45


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