Topics - B-29 Down
Sea of Japan February 1, 1952

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A B-29 (#44-61908) flying out of Okinawa went down in the Sea of Japan on February 1, 1952, killing all of its 12-man crew.  The wing of the bomber was struck by another B-29 (#42-65392) in the formation in which it was flying (a training flight), causing the planes to crash ten miles northwest of Kadena AFB, Okinawa.  There were no survivors on #44-61908, but #42-86392 landed safely with no fatalities.

The Korean War Educator is currently searching for more information about this accident and its crew members.  If any of our readers have information about this B-29 or its crew members, please contact Lynnita by e-mail or telephone 217-253-4620 in Illinois.

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Fatalities - #44-61908

  • Dugger, Cpl. Robert B. Jr. - (tail gunner) See Readers' Comments.
  • Hoag, Capt. Eugene Maurice - (navigator) born January 25, 1922
  • Lennox, Cpl. Kenneth - (CFC gunner), born February 14, 1930
  • McCook, TSgt. Wade - (flight engineer)  McCook was a World War II veteran who was one of only two airmen who survived the downing of a B-17 on October 8, 1943.  He was taken prisoner of war by the Germans, returned home after the war, and reenlisted in the Air Force.
  • Pitt, Cpl. Jimmie W. - (left waist gunner), born May 27, 1931
  • Sedler, Cpl. Mark A. - (right waist gunner)
  • Smith, Capt. Hal R. - (co-pilot), born July 28, 1919
  • Sundstrom, Capt. Roy Arnold - (radar observer) He was from Custer County, South Dakota.  See Memorial section.
  • Supplee, Sgt. George W. Jr. - (radar operator) A member of a different crew with the 307th Bomb Wing, 372nd Bomb Squadron at Okinawa, Sergeant Supplee volunteered as a radio operator on this fatal flight.  He had a brother, Tom Supplee, who later lived in Dublin, PA.
  • Tabor, Capt. Marvin T. - (bombardier) Born August 1, 1915 in Oklahoma, son of Tom and Rhoda Tabor, he was survived by a widow and children Marvin Jr. (6), James (5), Rhoda (9 months), Elizabeth (4) and Sue (20 months).
  • Tullius, Lt. Roy C. - (pilot) He was born August 7, 1925.  He married Jean Kams, daughter of Albert and Ruth Kams, in July of 1951.  She died February 11, 2011.  After Roy's death, Jean became a nurse.  She married Dr. Edwin D. Savlov in 1963 and they had one son, Marc Haley Savlov.
  • Weeks, Lt. Charles B. - (aircraft commander)  He was born December 14, 1923.  He was a 1st Lieutenant in the Air Force during World War II and Korea.

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Memorials - #44-61908

Sundstrom, Roy Arnold*

[*Copied from the South Dakota Korean War Memorial internet page.]

Roy A. Sundstrom was born June 15, 1918, in Newcastle, Wyoming, to J. L. and Alma Sundstrom. He was the youngest of seven children. He had six siblings, five brothers: Conrad, Arthur, Robert, Philip, Carl, and a sister, Viola. Roy went to school in both Hot Springs, South Dakota, and Newcastle, Wyoming, graduating from Newcastle High School in 1935. After completing his education, he worked in the newspaper business in Newcastle until he enlisted in the Air Force in February of 1942.

After undergoing much training as a bombardier navigator, Sundstrom was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He went overseas during World War II and from August of 1944 to April of 1945, Lt. Sundstrom went on 50 missions against the Nazis while he was stationed in Italy as part of a bomb group. For his service in World War II, Lt. Sundstrom was awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, EAME Theatre Ribbon, and three battle stars.

After he was inactivated from the Air Force, Roy went back to the newspaper business with his brother Carl. They first operated the Deadwood Pioneer-Times and ran it during 1946. Also in 1946, Roy married Mildred Armstrong on August 9 in Billings, Montana. Carl then sold the Deadwood newspaper and bought the Custer County Chronicle. Roy was a “contributing partner as news reporter, advertising manager and editor” while still a member of the Air Force Reserve. Roy and his wife had a daughter, Sandra Sue. On May 10, 1951, Roy was called back to active service in the Korean War at Mather Field, Sacramento, California.

Lt. Sundstrom was sent for re-training in California, Texas, and Louisiana; he was promoted to Captain and then left the United States in January of 1952 to serve as a radar observer on a B-29 bomber in the Pacific. He participated in several bombing missions over North Korea as part of the 372nd Bomber Squadron, 307th Bomber Wing, 12th Air Force, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. On February 1, 1952, over an hour after leaving for a bombing mission over North Korea, Captain Sundstrom’s B-29 was struck in midair by another plane in their formation. His bomber was greatly damaged in the wing area and crashed into the ocean. At first the crew members on Sundstrom’s bomber were reported missing in action. However, after a search located “portions of the plane and clothing,” Captain Sundstrom and the rest of the crew were presumed dead on February 13, 1952.

The crew members’ remains were buried with military honors at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri. For his service in Korea, Captain Roy Sundstrom was awarded the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean War Service Medal.

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Readers' Comments

Re: Cpl. Robert B. Dugger Jr.

"I have been researching the death of my father, Cpl. Robert B. Dugger, Jr.  He was killed on February 1, 1952 when his B-29 went down in the sea of China.  It was due to mechanical failure, though there is some indication that the USAF listed it as pilot error.  They flew out of Okinawa.  His service number was AF19387914.  He is buried in a common grave at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, and neither he nor his crewmates' remains were ever positively identified.

From other research I believe he was a member of the 372nd Bomber Squadron.  Any information I could obtain would be helpful as my father is not listed in any archives that I can locate, nor is my father's name or any of the others were killed on this flight included on memorials known across the United States for KIA of the Korean War.  I think a supplemental memorial should be erected next to the existing ones showing the deaths of other human beings like my father that were killed during the Korean conflict that are not currently shown because of "political" or U.N. engagement rules or whatever that were instituted during this conflict.

My father was a tail gunner that flew a bombing mission over Korea out of Okinawa prior to his death with the 372nd Bomber Wing.  To dismiss his death that took place on a subsequent training mission as being something other than non-combat related, or "out of theater" or anything else is false.

According to my mother's (a judge's daughter and my father's wife) investigation in 1952, the base commander was advised that my father's plane be taken off active duty by Mr. Weeks (a decorated World War II pilot) and several other officers.  A failed or dysfunctional airleon (?) was the reason.  Despite this input and the lack of parts, other than beer cans available to this air wing as well as other flight squadrons, the base commander decided to send a significant number of air wings up in formation for a "training" flight on this particular day." - Robert "Bo" Dugger, son of Cpl. Robert B. Dugger Jr.


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