39th Bomb Group (VH)

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"City of Galveston"
"Peacemaker II "
B-29 # 44-69785

The "City of Galveston's" radio communication was limited to our plane therefore, all messages from the doomed bomber to the rescue vessel had to be relayed to it through us.

In the meantime, Capt. William Barthel, Navigator; 2nd Lt Donald A. Gerth, Pilot; S/Sgt Wilbur A. Pickens, Radio Operator; and Lt Oscar Price, Bombardier, aboard P-13, went into the front bomb bay in an effort to close the doors. Their emergency efforts were to no avail.

Simultaneously, the radar observer, 2nd Lt Waring L. Lynch, and the two side gunners, Sgt Gerald Carroll and S/Sgt Lowell A. Ellison and replacement tail gunner S/Sgt Richard Vanden Heuvel, worked unsuccessfully to repair the heavy damaged rear bomb bay doors.

S/Sgt Daniel T. Robinson, the CFC Specialist remained on intercom to relay orders and a look out for enemy fighters. In the meantime, S/Sgt George L. Mantak, Flight Engineer, continued to nurse the two remaining engines.

P-5 continued to shepherd the mortally wounded B-29. Silent prayers asked that Ed's ETA and heading for the submarine would be accurate. There were twelve lives on the line and there would be no time for hit or miss searching. A submarine in the vast Pacific is only a speck size target. An error of even a fraction of a degree would mean missing it completely.

With the "City of Galveston" at less than 2000 feet, the crew began to jettison equipment and supplies in a desperate but losing effort to stay in the air.

Just as Col. Mundy and Capt. Miranda had concluded they could wage the battle no longer, Bob Spaulding of P-5 spotted the rescue vessel dead ahead. Did it ever look beautiful! Miranda and Mundy directed the stricken plane upwind of the sub and ordered the crew to bail out.

Someone glanced at his watch and remarked that our ETA was right on the button. Ed Edmundson had performed a commendable job of navigation.

The crew went out in rapid succession. When the last man had cleared, both Col. Mundy and Capt. Miranda abandoned the aircraft at less than 1000 feet about the water. The plane rolled over to the right, then plunged into the sea and exploded. The first 10 men landed close together: some floating nearly onto the deck of the submarine. Mundy and Miranda splashed down further away because of their delayed jump.

As they bobbed in the water-awaiting pick up, two fighter planes suddenly swooped downward toward the floating airmen. Col. Mundy recalls that he jumped from his dinghy into the sea expecting he would be strafed. Just as Crew 5's gunners were about to open fire on them, someone notice the stars and bars of the Army Air Force. They were friendly P-51s. We had been told in briefing that there wouldn't be any fighter cover so the sudden emergence of the Mustangs had taken us by surprise. They never know how close they come to being blasted by one or more of our trigger-happy gunners. Col. Mundy stated afterwards that the diving P-51s had deserved a burst or two. It turned out that the Mustangs were looking for navigational escorts back to Iwo Jima. Another B-29 took them under their wing back to base.

The "City of Galveston" crew were rescued by the USS PINTAO, SS387, commanded by Commander Raymond Budd out of Hawaii. P-5 lingered until the last man was picked up and then it too turned east and headed for home.

The USS PINTADO was heading out on Patrol and the next day they transferred the "City of Galveston" Crew to the USS TIGRONE as she was ending her partol and headed back to Pearl Harbor.

Crew 13 and other rescued airmen
Members of Crew 13 and other rescued airmen aboard the USS Tigrone
Click to photo to enlarge

First Row (kneeling) L to R:
# 1 S/Sgt George L. Mantak, FE; # 2 Sgt Gerald Carroll, LG;
Second Row (kneeling) L to R:
# 2 S/Sgt Richard E. Vanden Heuvel TG - kneeling
None of the other veterans have been identified. The above photo appearred in the Time Life Book "Bombers Over Japan" and was sent to us by Don Montague, son of Lawrence Montague, TG, P-1R2. According to the text in the book - these men are the down airmen of P-13 as well as airmen from other groups rescued and being transported back land.

According to Crew 46's history, they ditched 29 May 1945, and were rescued by the USS Tigrone, partol logs from USS Tigrone list this also. Therefore some members of P-46 may be pictured above as well.

60th Squadron Crew Index
Sources: Island Newspaper "Block Buster" 1945 and added observations by members of P-5 for the
"History of the 39th Bomb Group"; Richard Vanden Heuvel, TG; P-18
Don, son of Lawrence Montague, TG, Replacement Crew 1; Time Life Books "Bombers Over Japan"