At 0131 hours on November 19, 1952, the aircraft known as 44-86392 (Wrights' Delights', They Chosin Flew) was on a bombing mission over Songhon. On return it was hit by
fighters. The aircraft went down approximately eight miles north of Chodo Island after
fire and order to bail out. Maj. William F. Sawyer, aircraft commander, landed safely
on a friendly island. He stated that he ordered the crew to follow normal bailout
procedure and was satisfied that he was the last man to leave the aircraft. Major
Sawyer saw the aircraft hit the water approximately a half mile north of Chodo. The
two crew members who survived, Major Sawyer and 1Lt. Allan R. Winchester, survived were later interrogated
by government officials regarding what took place that fateful day.
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Ray Sestak's Tribute to the Sawyer Crew
Ray Sestak is an Ohio resident who also happens to be the nephew of Myron F. "Smokey" Sestak, a fatality
in Maj. William Sawyer's crew. At one point in time Ray created a website on the internet that honored
the service and sacrifice of the men on Sawyer's crew. Unfortunately, like many websites that provide
information on various Korean War-related subjects, Ray's site went down. In 2015, Ray generously
shared all of the website information with the Korean War Educator so that the men on Sawyer's crew will
never be forgotten.
For those interested in the fate of the Sawyer crew and who these brave men were, this
tribute page is a must see. It includes: individual and group photos of the crew, accident reports,
photos of Wright's Delight's B-29 nose art, news article about the search for Kassel Keene, and a combat
Click HERE to see the Ray Sestak data preserved as a PDF File. Links are non-functional.
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John Baker's Memories
Click HERE to view John Baker's Memories.
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Letter from Dick Iler to Bill Seals
1st row from the left - Lt. Warren James, Radar Operator; Lt. Howard Hansen, Bombardier; T.Sgt. Milton Langford, Engineer; Lt. Elton Hall, Pilot; Lt. Byron Anderson, Aircraft Commander.
2nd row from left - Airman 1st Cornelius Hunt, Radio Operator; SSgt. Richard Iler, Left Gunner; Airman 1st William Morrell, Right gunner; Airman 2nd Thomas Burlace, Tail Gunner; Airman 1st Denny
Pitts, CFC Gunner; Lt. Raymond Rawl, Navigator.
(Click picture for a larger view)
January 02, 2015
I read with interest in the November Pyramidiers John Baker's reminiscence of his experiences flying with
the 98th Bomb Wing out of Yokota AFB during the Korean War. John's tour pretty much paralleled my own.
I flew 29 missions with the 345th Bomb Squadron between July 1952 and January 1953 as left gunner on 1st Lt.
Byron Anderson's crew. Our B-29 had tail number 44-69668, but had no nose art, it having recently been
reconditioned in the States. At one time it was called, "Wild Goose".
I would like to expand on
John's comments in a couple of regards. First, Editor's comment notwithstanding, John was correct in
stating that the normal bomb load on our missions was thirty-eight 500 pound bombs. In addition, we
carried a 250 pound photoflash bomb in each bomb bay timed to light up the target triggering an on board
camera photographing bombing results.
John also discussed the loss during his tour of a 98th B-29 to a MiG
attack. That was Maj. William F. Sawyer's 345th Bomb Squadron crew which went down on the night of
November 20, 1952, with only two survivors, the Aircraft Commander, Maj. Sawyer, and the Radar Operator, 1st
Lt. Allan R. Winchester. Two bodies were recovered, one in the water, and the other on the North
Korean main land with a bullet hole in his head. The remaining ten crew members, including a spare
Pilot and a spare Radar Operator, and including John Baker's friend, Navigator Robert J. Bird, were declared
missing in action and after a year were declared presumed dead.
All of this is set out in graphic detail
in the post-incident interrogation report and the finding of death memorandum which I enclose herewith.
The door to Lt. Anderson and Mort Jensen's room in the 345th Bm.Sq. barracks, Yokota AFB, 1952.
(Click picture for a larger view)
an aside, T/Sgt. Morton H. Jensen was the ECM Operator flying with Maj. Sawyer on the night they went down.
Mort bunked with our enlisted crew members in the 345th Bomb Squadron's barracks. As the old saying
goes, fact is sometimes stranger than fiction. This was Mort's 100th mission, that number being
virtually unheard of, and a celebration of that accomplishment was planned to take place at Wing
Headquarters on his return with dignitaries and the press all present. I was also there.
Obviously, the party came to an abrupt end when news of the loss of Maj. Sawyer's crew reached Headquarters.
I also enclose a copy of the November 17, 1952 Order awarding Mort his Fourth Oak Leaf Cluster to his Air
Mene of those declared presumed dead by the attached memorandum. Coincidently, John Baker's friend,
Robert J. Bird, received the Air Medal by the same Order.
For an excellent narrative of the B-29s part in
the Korean War, I recommend the book, "Black Tuesday over Namsi" by Earl J. McGill, Lt Col., USAF
(Ret.), published in 2008 by Heritage Books, Inc.
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Letter from Harold Beathe to The Pyramidiers (May 2015)
I read with some interest your Pieces of My Mind in the August issue of The
Pyramidiers. I agree with Mr. Ed York in that many missions were flown by the "98th." I
served in the 345th squadron, and I knew, quite well, Morton Jensen who flew 100 missions, although he was
shot down on that bomb run and never made it back. I like to believe that he did, indeed, complete the
Mort was a quiet person with a very strong sense of duty, and I liked him. He told me his
goal was to have a hundred missions before his tour was over, and I told him then that he did not need to
prove anything to anyone. He said that was not on his mind, he just wanted to have a hundred missions.
A few months before his last mission, Jensen was flying ECM and they encountered a lot of either fighters or
flak, I don't recall which, and that the plane became hard to manage. At any rate, the A/C gave the
order to bailout, and ECM was the first in the bailout order. Well, something told Jensen not to jump.
He stepped back and said, "I can't." Not waiting for Mort, the rest of the crew (in the aft
compartment) bailed out leaving Jensen all alone in the rear of the plane. Jensen began having second
thoughts about what he was doing. He made it to the rear door to try to jump when he noticed he still
had his ear phones on. Instead of taking them off, he plugged into the intercom box and called the
A/C. The A/C answered with, "Don't Jump", and Jensen said that he was the only one back there.
So the A/C instructed him to watch the engines and report any problems. Mort was hungry and went to
work on his in-flight lunch and when that didn't satisfy him, he ate two more lunches before they made an
emergency landing in a field in South Korea. I don't recall him saying any more about that incident.
Somehow, word got to the Air Force news people about him going to make his 100th run. They arrived in
time to set up, film, and interview our preparations for the mission. All planes got off OK, despite
the rolling cameras. Our run was completed and we made it back to Yokota without incident. Our
truck dropped us off at operations. It was there I noticed the news people were loading their gear
with downcast faces. When we went into operations, I learned the reason. Major Sawyer's plane
had been hit by fighters and they bailed out into the cold ocean on the way to Chodo, which was a safe
pick-up island off the coast of North Korea, manned by the Navy.
The following day, I was at my desk and
looked up to see Capt. Winchester coming in. We spoke a little about the
mission and he told me that he nearly froze trying to get into the dingy.
By his recollection, he spent a lot of time at that and another five hours in the dingy before the Navy
found him. Major Sawyer, the lucky devil, never even got his feet wet as his chute carried him to the
island. The only survivors were the A/C, Major Sawyer, and the radar man, Capt. Winchester.
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Major William F. Sawyer, A)660295, Aircraft Commander
1st Lt. Allan R. Winchester, A)288660, Radio
(Aircraft Serial Number: 44-66392)
Time: 1615 hours, 20 November, 1952
The take-off was normal and the mission was flown as briefed to the I.O., a point on the shoran arc on
approach #3, station pair Baker-Charlie. The planned I.P. time was 00291, and to the best of the
knowledge of the two survivors being interrogated, actual I.P. time was 00311. The only equipment
failure at this time was the IFF, which was completely out. The run into the target was normal, at an
altitude of 23,250 FLPA. The target time was unknown, however, it was approximately 1 1/2 minutes
prior to the "bombs away" time of aircraft #2173 which was 0049. Shortly after the bomb impact and the
taking of strike photos, three flares were dropped in the path of the bomber. The first was 5000 feet
high. Again a 20 degree turn to the right was made and approximately 20 seconds later, the third flare
appeared at about 2 o'clock, and still at 5000 feet high. Immediately after this, two (2) searchlights
came on and locked on the B-29, followed by between fifteen (15) to twenty (20) more. The lights
remained locked on the B-29, followed by more for approximately four (4) minutes. At the time they
came on the ECM equipment was operating fully, and the ECM operator, Jensen, said over the interphone:
"There are too many frequencies. I haven't enough equipment to jam them all." At this time the
tail gunner called out two (2) aircraft at 6 o'clock high, however, no pass was made at this time.
Approximately two (2) minutes later, four (4) burst of fire described as "Red Tennis Balls" were received
from 6 o'clock level and hits were received in the number 2 engine which caused damage and had to be
feathered. As soon as this was accomplished, hits were received in the number 3 engine which was
almost immediately feathered. Hits were then received on the wing between the fuselage and number 3
engine. A fire was started here and could not be put out. All crew members were on oxygen during
the bomb run, and no difficulty was encountered due to loss of pressurization. Right after the hits
were received, the lights went off the aircraft, and the fighter made no more passes. Dutchboy was
contacted on Dog Channel right after leaving the lights. At a point approximately ten (10) miles north
of the Chongchon River, the heading of 200 degrees was received as an initial steer. At a point abeam
of Pyongyang, and approximately 5 miles off shore, a corrected heading of 220 degrees was received from
Dutchboy. At this time, the aircraft was decending [sic] at from 500 to 200 feet per minute, at an
indicated airspeed of 280 miles per hour. At a point 10 miles northwest of Chinnampo, a third correct
heading of 236 degrees was received. The route south at all times was generally parallel with the
coast, and at no time more than 5 miles off shore. Right after the searchlight left the aircraft, the
crew was alerted for bail-out, and all crew members prepared for bail-out. The situation was so
critical that the task of taking off the chute to put on the anti-exposure suit and (get it) re-adjusted was
not considered feasable [sic]. The aircraft kept trim and was flown manually until two (2) minutes
prior to actual bail-out. The radar equipment was functioning at all times and the V.O. was able to
make radar images [?] up to the time just previous to leaving his station for the bail-out. The vacuum
system and the majority of generators were out, the fluxgate compass was out, and shortly after receiving
the last steer, the VHF faded out. The last message received from Dutchboy was that they were sending
up flares. At this time the fire was burning the right wing, very close to the gas tanks, and
streaming back as far as the Right Scanners blister, and the final decision to bail-out was made. The
aft door was tied back, the bomb bay door was opened, the nose wheel lowered and the hatch salvoed.
Approximately two (2) minutes later, having not seen any flares, the order to "bail-out" was given both
verbally and on the alarm bell. The actual location of the island of Cho-do was unknown, but Major
Sawyer felt they could wait no longer. The altitude was believed to be slightly more than 4000 feet.
The bail-out order was as follows: AFTER ESCAPE HATCH-ECM Operator, Spare V.O., Tail Gunner, and V.O.
AFTER BOMB BAY - CFC, Left Gunner, Right Gunner. FORWARD BOMB BAY - Radio Operator, and Navigator.
NOSE WHEEL HATCH - Spare Aircraft Commander, Bombardier, Engineer, Pilot, and Aircraft Commander. The
estimated time taken to clear the aft section was forty (40) seconds, and for the front section one (1)
minute. At the time the Aircraft Commander bailed out, the aircraft was approximately at 2800 feet
altitude. After leaving the aircraft made a slow 270 degree turn to the left and hit the water
approximately 1/2 mile north of the northern tip of Cho-do.
Major Sawyer's bail-out was accomplished in
the following manner. After observing the crew members bail-out, and getting interphone calls from the
rear saying the last man was leaving, he got out of the seat and stepped over the crash bar which was in
position, climbed down the rungs on the side of the nose wheel well, and let go. As soon as he was
clear of the aircraft, he pulled his rip cord and the chute opened normally with no perceptable shock.
was starting to slide back into the seat when he observed the first flare approximately 1 1/2 miles north of
him, and could see he was over the island and close to the ground. He slipped the chute to prevent
severe oscillation and to be sure of hitting the island. However, due to closeness to the ground, he
soon stopped this measure and hit the ground backwards at the start of a new oscillation. He struck on
the side of a hill and was rather gently lowered to a prone position on his back. The Major then
rolled over, collapsed his chute and got out of his harness. He could see a glow from lights to the
north of him, so he started walking in that direction. Shortly after starting off, he encountered a
ROK Marine, and asked him if there were Americans to the north, and the ROK nodded "Yes" and left him.
Major Sawyer then walked the balance of approximately 1 1/2 miles to the Americans.
Winchester's experiences were as follows. After seeing the men in the rear bail-out, he called the
Aircraft Commander and told him he was leaving the ship. He went through the after pressurized door
and stood by the escape hatch in a croutched [sic] position with his arms crossed and leaned out falling
into the slip stream. As soon as he encountered the block [?] of the slip stream, he pulled the
ripcord and the chute caught without a noticeable jar. He had tightened his harness straps to the
point where he could not sit back in the seat, which caused him to hang in a slightly flexed position.
He could not see the shore and tried slipping the chute to guide him in that direction. At this time
he observed one (1) parachute to the southeast of him, and two (2) to the northeast. He had unfastened
the chest strap prior to hitting the water. The leg straps were not unfastened because he could not
sit in the harness. His striking the water was described as "just sitting down in it", and he was
submerged less than in a dive. He popped his Mae West and then collapsed his chute. Due to the
tightness of the leg straps some difficulty was encountered in getting free of the harness. However,
this was accomplished by slipping the straps down on his legs and unsnapping them. Because he could
not open the dingy [sic] case by the zipper strap, he reached inside and released the CO2 bottle, which
immediately inflated it fully. The Mae West was holding him in almost a horizontal position and he
attempted to slide into the dingy [sic] on his back. This was unsuccessful and he finally climbed in
at the small end in the approved fashion. He covered himself with the poncho cover of the dingy [sic]
and opened the equipment case. Due to the cold and nervousness, he was only able to get out one
paddle. He checked other equipment and decided not to use any of it at that time. However, he
did attempt to contact some of the others by means of the whistle, but with no results. He visually
fixed his position in relation to two mountains on the shore and attempted to paddle towards Cho-do.
He could see no apparent motion and decided it was due to still having his parachute, harness, and dingy
[sic] cover attached to the dingy [sic] and acting as a sea anchor. After paddling for an indefinite
period of time, Lieutenant Winchester passed out due to coldness and exhaustion. After daylight he
came to, and noted his position to be apparently off the west coast of Sokto island, in almost the same
position in which he was the night before. Shortly afterward, a sam-pan sent from Cho-do picked up up
Lieutenant Winchester was wearing long handled winter underwear, his wool coveralls, and the L-2
flying jacket as well as a winter-type flying helmet and jump boots. His probable length of time spent
in the water was approximately fifteen (15) minutes and from bail-out to rescue about seven (7) hours.
remains of 1st Lt. Beverly A. Swingle, Pilot, and 2nd Lt. Myron F. Sestak, Spare Radar Observer, were
located soon afterward. The remaining crew members are officially listed as Missing in Action and are
as follows: Major Kassel M. Keene, Spare Pilot; 1st Lt. Robert J. Bird, Navigator; 1st Lt. James K. Peck,
Bombardier; M/Sgt. Horace H. Tiller, Flight Engineer; T/Sgt. Morton H. Jensen, ECM Operator; A1C James H.
Porter, Radio operator; A/1C Raymond Thompson, Left Gunner; A/1C William Whitman, Right Gunner; A/2C James
L. Nichols, CFC Gunner, and A/2C Robert J. McLoughlin, Tail Gunner.
End of Report
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AFPMP-12-E-3 dated 2 November, 1953
Rm 26 2 Nov 53
AFPMP-12-E-3 704 Missing (19 Nov 52) SR&D Case #474
MEMORANDUM FOR: DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF, PERSONNEL
Finding of Death
1. a. persuant to the provision of the "Missing Persons Act", a full review has
been made of the facts and circumstances set forth herein to determine whether the missing in action
status of the following personnel may reasonably be continued after a year's absence, or terminated by a
presumptive finding of death:
Major Kassel M. Keene (blacked out)
Captain Robert J. Bird AO 793227
Captain James K. Peck (blacked out)
Master Sergeant Horace N. Tiller (blacked out)
Technical Sergeant Morton H. Jensen (blacked out)
Staff Sergeant Raymond Thompson (blacked out)
Staff Sergeant William H. Whitman (blacked out)
Airman First Class James H. Porter (blacked out)
Airman First Class Robert J. McLoughlin (blcked out)
Airman First Class James L. Nichols (blacked out)
b. The status of the four remaining members of the crew are not being
considered herein since two of them, Major William F. Sawyer (blacked out) Aircraft Commander, and First
Lieutenant Allan R. Winchester (blacked out), were returned to military control and the remains of First
Lieutenant Beverly A. Swingle, (blacked out),, and Second Lieutenant Myron F. Sestak, (blacked out),
2. a. Circumstances: The personnel listed were crew members
of a B-29 which departed Yokota Air Base, Honshu, Japan, 1900 hours, 18 November 1952, to participate in
a bombing mission over northern Korea. The flight arrived in the assigned area without incident
and proceeded to bomb the target, a supply dump at Sonchon. Outbound from the targeted area, at
approximately 0100 hours, 19 November, the subject B-29 was caught in a battery of enemy searchlights
and was attacked by enemy fighters. Hits were received in the number 2 and 3 engines and in the
wing between the number 3 engine and the fuselage, starting an uncontrollable fire. The crew was
alerted to bail out and the aircraft headed down to the coast in an attempt to reach Ch'o-do, a friendly
occupied island off the western coast of North Korea. Radio contact with other b-29's in the
flight was maintained until the bail out order was given and all crew members aboard the damaged plane
subsequently abandoned the aircraft near Ch'o-do.
b. Search Efforts:
Aircraft and surface vessels were dispatched immediately to the bail out area on the early morning of 19
November. However, shortly before daybreak they were driven from the scene by ground fire.
The search was resumed at dawn, extensive coverage being given throughout Ch'o-do and the surrounding
water areas. On the morning of 19 November, one of the crew members, Major Sawyer, unassisted
reached friendly forces on Ch'o-do and another crew member, Lieutenant Winchester, was rescued from the
sea between that island and Sokto, a small island near the mainland of North Korea where he had
apparently successfully landed and subsequently died as a result of a bullet wound in the head.
Search planes sighted four parachutes at different points on Ch'o-do, but no sign of life was witnessed
and the identity of those using the parachutes could not be established. Search and rescue
operations were completed on 20 November 1952, all efforts proving fruitless in uncovering information
concerning the ten missing crew members.
c. Supplemental Information: Major Sawyer, the aircraft
commander, upon returning to military control, reported that the final decision to bail out was made
when the fire was close to the gas tank and he feared the aircraft would explode. The B-29 was
then slightly over 4000 feet altitude and the entire crew successfully bailed out. Major Sawyer
was the last to leave the plane at approximately 2800 feet and shortly thereafter the B-29 made a slow
turn to the left and hit the water approximately one-half mile north of the top of Ch'o-do. Major
Sawyer landed on Ch'o-do and walked one and one half miles to join US forces. He and Lieutenant
Winchester, the only known survivors, had no knowledge as to the fate of the 10 missing crew members and
to date no further information has been received concerning them.
3. Careful examination of the available evidence reveals that the 14 crew members of the
B-29 parachuted near Ch'o-do, an island off the western coast of North Korea. One of them, Major
Sawyer, landed on the island; two others, Lieutenants Winchester and Swingle, landed in the water
nearby; and a fourth member of the crew, Lieutenant Sestak, either landed on the mainland of Korea or
reached the mainland soon after parachuting into the water. The sighting of four parachutes on
Ch'o-do during the search indicates that other crew members, in addition to Major Sawyer, may have been
in the area. While their identity is unknown, it is reasonable to assume that if they had survived
the landing on the island, which was accessible to friendly forces, they would have been seen or heard
from prior to this time. This would also be true in the case of any other crew member had he
landed in water and subsequently reached Ch'o-do. The recovery of the remains of Lieutenant Sestak
on the mainland of North Korea reveals that circumstances prevailed whereby other crew members may have
also reached the mainland. While Lieutenant Sestak apparently encountered enemy forces and was
fatally wounded soon thereafter, it is conceivable that others in the area may have escaped his fate,
been removed from the vicinity and became unreported prisoners of war. However, the likelihood
that they are still alive may now no longer reasonably be considered since none of them were
repatriated, none were mentioned in repatriates' statements, and sufficient time has elapsed during
which it is believed some word would have been received, providing they survived. In view of the
above and the absence of any information which would support a presumption of their continued survival,
it is concluded that these 10 missing persons may now no longer reasonably be presumed to be alive.
4. It is recommended that, pursuant to the authority contained in Section 5, Public Law
490, 77th Congress, as amended, official casualty reports be issued stating that the missing in action
status of the Air Force personnel listed in paragraph 1a, above has been terminated by a presumptive
finding of death. Further, that the casualty reports include a statement that, as provided by and
for the purposes of the cited Act, death is presumed to have occurred on 20 November 1953, the day
following the expiration of a year's absence in a missing in action status, in line of duty, in flying
pay status and was not the result of their own misconduct.
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Downed Aircraft Report No. 92
JENSEN, Morton H., T/Sgt. AF 27358781
Category #5, B-29, (Missing 19 Nov 52)
The aircraft was on a combat mission on the Sonchon supply dump, North Korea. As
the 3rd flare was dropped, 20 search lights were locked on the B-290. Approximately, two minutes
later, four bursts of fire were received and hits made on No. 2 and ? engines which had to be feathered
out, and on the wing between the fuselage and No. 3 engine, causing fire to start. Four parachutes
were sighted at different locations inland from Cho-do Island. A flight of F-51s discovered a
parachute hanging in a tree in the vicinity of coordinates (SC 7273) and about 100 ft. inland. Two
of the crew members were rescued and the remains of two other crew members were recovered from the sea.
[The following was taken from 6004th AISS, Det #2, Downed Aircraft Report Nol. 92, Nov 52.]
The aircraft was placed under attack by enemy night fighters at Sonchon (XE 6307).
An emergency call sent out at 0100 stating that the aircraft had lost two engines. The aircraft
commander bailed out and landed on the island of Cho-do (XC 5563), and he stated that he was the last
one to leave the aircraft. Parachutes were observed on the ground at (XC 7173), (XC 675506), (XC
665485) and (XC 645660). A white parachute was observed approximately 75 yards from the shoreline
at (XC 7172). It appeared to be attached to a ten-man raft.
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General Orders No. 580
Headquarters, Far East Air Force, issued General Orders No. 580 on 17 November 1952,
awarding Air Medals and First Oak Leaf Clusters to officers and personnel for meritorious achievement while
participating in aerial flights in the Korean War.
To view General Orders No. 580, click HERE.
B-29 Down Over Korea
To read an account by Terry L. Kidd, click HERE.