From the Jamestown Post-Journal, Saturday Evening Edition: February 19, 1944. Author: Asahel Bush.
Similar articles also written by Bush appeared in the Saturday, February 19, 1944 Edition of the Salamanca Republican-Press, and the Saturday, February 19, 1944 edition of The Citizen-Adviser out of Auburn, N.Y.
"Leon Flier One of Men Saved from Life Raft: Staff Sgt. Lawrence W. Harvey Rescued After Plan Downed by Japanese Ack Ack:
A Forward Air Base in New Guinea - AP- The ack ack coming up from Momote airdrome was fierce- far heavier than had been expected - yet the Mitchells were digging through the thick of it at a minimum altitude to get at the enemy's vitals with bombs and machineguns.
Lt. Kennedy D. McClure of Bexley, Ohio, pilot of one of the "bats out of hell" spearheading the attack on the Admiralty Islands (Jan. 26), wondered whether this wasn't the time.
After all, he and his crew had been photographed just before the takeoff, in disregard of an Air Corps superstition. Besides, they had been issues all new emergency equipment - rafts, Mae Wests, compasses.
At the moment McClure was considering his future with some qualms, the plane lurched sharply and shrapnel peppered its underside.
The left engine began smoking, and soon afterward, fire broke out. McClure headed for a rain cloud to try to entinguish it. That proved a futile maneuver, so the pilot ordered his crew to prepare for a crash landing at sea.
The radio operator, Staff Sgt. Frederick R. Mitchell, Springville, Ind., braced himself against a rear bulkhead. The turret gunner, Staff Sgt. Lawrence W. Harvery, Leon, N.Y., grasped the belot of Staff SGt. Frederick H. Robatcek, the engineer, of Sauke Rapids, Minn., and lay between his legs, bracing both men against another bulkhead.
McClure concentrated on dragging the tail of the plane in the water to decrease the speed before the full length of the ship could hit. Timpson lowered the flaps, in a binding surge of spray the plane settled in.
The officers scrambled through the forward escape hatch. Harvey and Robatcek slid into the water from a small hole in the tall cone, followed by Mitchell and his six foot three, 230-pound bulk.
"After releasing the life raft," McClure said, "the six of us all tried to get in at once. Several wicked looking fins could be seen cutting through the water, and we didn't intend to serve as a meal for sharks."
"When we were all seated as comfortably as could be expected Sergeant Mitchell leaned back, pushed his cap over one eye, stuck a big cigar in his mouth and said "Well, here we are; guess I'd better destroy my secret radio book."
Not long after we saw a navy Catalina flying boat looking for us. There was a wild scramble to get the flares from their waterproof pocket so we could signal.
"The Cat finally spotted us and landed not far away. I don't think we were ever so glad to see anyone in our lives. If I had anything to say about it, the Cats would adopt as their squadron song, "Praise the Lord and send the Catalina."