SSGT William Richard Smith
Record NO: (650)
Rank / Rate
War of Service
Date of birth
No Date
Place of birth / home town
Family Members
High School
Central High School
Enlistment Date
Service Number
Unit / Ship / duty Station
64th Bomber Squadron, 43rd Bomber Group, Heavy
Date of Casuality
May 27, 1943
Cause of Death or Status
Place of Incident
New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Pacific Ocean
Place of Burial or Memorial
Memorialized: Tablets of the Missing Manila American Cemetery Manila, Philippines
★ Purple Heart ★ Air Medal ★ Silver Star ★ WWII Victory Medal ★ American Campaign Medal ★ Army Presidential Unit Citation ★ Army Good Conduct Medal ★ Asiatic- Pacific Campaign Medal
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On May 21, 1943 he was on the crew of the B-17E #41-9244 when they took off at night from Papua New Guinea to bomb Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. Their plane was nicknamed "Honi Kuu Okole" which means "kiss my ass" in Hawaiian. Before arriving at the target they were attacked by a Japanese night fighter and seriously damaged. The pilot ordered the crew to bail out. Only three managed to escape before the plane crashed into the ocean. Of the men who bailed out, only one was able to survive and was eventually rescued by a US Submarine with the help of local islanders. The other two men were captured by the Japanese and later executed.