High School Wall of Honor
Benton H. Van Horn, Jr.
Class of January, 1938
1st Lieutenant; Died as POW
Research done by Rick Nehrling, class of 1963 and Claradell Shedd, class
|Benton H. Van Horn,
was a member of North High's class of January, 1938. He
served in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific Theater where
he was a First Lieutenant. His service number was 0-746920.
His next of kin was B.H. Van Horn, 2613 Clark Street, Des
Benton served as the navigator on a B-29 with the 770th
Bomber Squadron, 462nd Bombardment Group (commanded by Major
Carl Walker from 1943-1946) which was assigned to the XXI
Bomber Command, 20th Air Force, working in the Pacific Theater.
The B-29 on which Benton navigated was piloted by Captain
Carl "Shorty" Hull, Jr. The plane's number was
#44-69965 (MACR/Missing Air Crew Report #14605), and it
was referred to as the "Hull Crew" plane. It flew
its missions out of Tinian Island.
His remains were returned to the United States in 1949 and
buried at Resthaven Cemetery in Des Moines, IA.
on photo to view enlarged version
June 5, 1945, the "Hull Crew" were part of a 473 plane
B-29 mission to attack Kobe, Japan. The B-29s carried 3,077 tons
of incendiary bombs which they dropped east of Kobe, destroying
a large industrial complex covering 3.8 square miles. In addition,
some of the B-29s dropped their incendiary bombs on nine additional
industrial targets around Kobe. Total damage to Kobe's industrial
complexes were estimated to be 8 square miles. During this attack
the B-29s shot down 86 Japanese fighters while the Japanese shot
down eleven B-29s.
One of the B-29s shot down was #44-69965, the "Hull Crew" plane.
The plane went down approximately 35 miles southeast of Kobe.
There were two eyewitness accounts from airmen in B-29 #329 that
saw the plane go down.
Staff Sergeant Charles H. Murray reported the following:
"I was flying as tail gunner on airplane
#329 and saw airplane #44-69965 get hit as we were flying over
the target. The #2 engine began to smoke and burn, but the fire
was soon put out. I lost sight of #965 until two fighters attacked
it. The plane caught fire again and shortly thereafter blew up.
As the plane fell, I saw seven chutes open up."
Private First Class James L. Bucklin reported the following:
"I was left gunner in aircraft #329 which
was flying #7 ship in the formation. After we had left the target
and were heading for the turning point, aircraft #44-69965 was
hit by a flak burst which caused damage to the left wing around
#2 engine. A first started in this engine, but was extinguished
temporarily by the application of CO2 and the feathering of the
prop. The decrease in air speed was soon evident,and #965 began
to drop back of our formation.
As we made the first turn away from the target, #965 was still
close enough to receive protection from us. The fighter attack
at this point was very concentrated. As we made our turn toward
the coast, #965 was approximately 800 yards out at 7 o'clock from
our ship. Our altitude at taht time was 15,500 true. About two
or three minutes from the second turn, two Nicks worked around
us and attacked #965. Several coordinated attacks were executed
A smoldering fire had existed on #965's #2 engine up to this time.
After the fighter attacks, #965 began to blaze fiercely, and it
was evident that the ship would not make it. I saw three chutes
open uo. then a great sheet of flame enveloped #965 and the left
wing fell off. Both wing and plane were burning as they tumbled
toward the earth. Five more chutes opened in a bunch, making a
total of eight (8). Shortly afterward, the ship hit the ground
Capture of a B-29 crewman by the Japanese was the worst of fates.
… For those who came back [from combat missions] there was a cleaning
shower and a clean bunk to purge their weariness. But for those
who did not there were many possibilities, all of them brutal
and tragic. - Kevin Herbert, Maximum Effort
From report from http://www.pacificwrecks.com/people/visitors/moskow/face.html#pow:
462nd BG, 770th BS - 44-69965 - MACR # 14605 Piloted by Capt.
Carl T. Hull, Jr. Eleven crewmen. At least seven were captured,
but none survived.
Out of the 11 crew members, four of them
were never accounted for or found and were reported as Missing
in Action. The remaining seven crew members were captured by the
Japanese after being found floating in their life rafts. One of
those captured by the Japanese was Benton H. Van Horn, Jr. (1
Lt.). Another crew member who was captured was David F. McNeley,
a 1942 North High graduate (T/Sgt.). Both men were taken to the
Tokai Military Command and were executed in the forests of Akatsu-cho
Seto city on June 28, 1945. Another version: Benton and
David F. McNeley was captured by the local citizenry and turned
over to the Japanese Military Police, the Kempei Tai. David's
date of death is listed by his family as August 6, 1945.
Benton was officially reported as a POW on August 15, 1945, and
he was held at Osaka Main Camp Chikko Osaka 34-135. Benton was
executed by the Japanese shortly before the war ended, as noted
5 June 1945; JAPAN:
Place of Departure: Tinian Island Course 337-321.
Target or intended destination: Kobe, Japan
Type of Mission Bombing (combat) /Mission 188)
Four hundred seventy-three XXI BC B-29's attack Kobe with 3077
tons of incendiary bombs; eight attack other targets. The attack
burns off over 4 square miles and damages over half of the city.
B-29's claim 86 Japanese fighters. Eleven B-29's are lost. Aircraft
B-29-70-BW; AAF Serial No. 44-69965 462nd BG - MACR 14605 - Hull
Manufactured by Boeing Aircraft, Wichita, Kansas. Delivered to
the USAAF on 22 Mar 45. Sent to Topeka, Kansas via the Birmingham
Modification Center Al, and assigned to the XXI Bomber Command,
Twentieth Air Force, Pacific Theater of Operations, on 16 May
1945. ...assigned to the 770th Bombardment Squadron, 462nd Bombardment
Group at the time of loss.
Pilot: Captain Carl T. "Shorty" Hull, MIA (Norfolk,
FltEngr: F/O Charley Blackburn, MIA (Pratt, Kansas)
Tail Gunner: S/Sgt. James Clemens, MIA (Childress, Texas)
Radio: T/Sgt. Thomas O. Drew, MIA (Pratt, Kansas)
(Original Crew Member of Jody Smith Dad's Crew)
Co-Pilot: 1st Lt. Cletus W. Moser, POW, Executed (Ligonier, Indiana)
Bombardier:1st Lt. Oliver M.Stewart, POW, Executed (Sand Springs,
Navigator: 1st Lt. Benton Van Horn, Jr., POW*, Executed. (Des
V/Radar Opr.: S/Sgt. Arthur H. Weinbauer, POW*, Executed.(Wheaton,
Left Blister Gunner: S/Sgt. John N. Zinn, POW*, Executed. (Harrisburg,
CFC Gunner: T/Sgt. David Fredrick McNeley, POW*, Executed. (Des
(Neysa Picklum's Brother)
Right Blister Gunner: Hershell Barrett, POW*. (Long Beach, California)
- * Van Horn, Weinbauer, Zinn, Barrett and McNeley, were captured
after being found floating in their rafts.
- Those executed were identified from bodies.
- Hull, Drew, Blackburn and Clements were never found.
Was the Tail Gunner's name S/Sgt. James H. Glenens of Childress,
above information was obtained from the following:
(1) The World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army
Air Forces Personnel was created by the War Department, the Adjutant
General's Office, Administrative Services Division, Strength Accounting
Branch. The original records are held at the Modern Military records
LICON, Textural Services Division (NWCTM), National Archives at
College Park, Maryland.
The documents contain the latest and most complete information
available of all Army and Army Air Force personnel who were killed
or died, or became and remained missing, between the President's
declaration of unlimited national emergency on May 27, 1941 and
the cut-off date of this report, January 31, 1946. This document
includes both battle and nonbattle dead and missing. The records
are available online at http://www.archives.gov/.
The type of casualty is indicated by the following:
* KIA - Killed in Action. This is an individual who was killed
in action at the front, by enemy action in the rear, or if a
prisoner of war.
* DOW - Died of Wounds. This is an individual was who wounded
and later died.
* DOI - This is an individual who suffered fatal battle injuries
and died in a line of duty status.
*DNB - Died Nonbattle. This is an individual who died in a line
of duty death, such as from sickness, homicide, suicide, or
accidents outside of combat areas (training).
*M - Missing. This is an individual who is reported as missing
and later was determined to be dead.
*FOD - Finding of Death. Findings of death fall within Public
Law 490 and its amendments and are made when there is either
conclusive proof that the person is dead or equally overwhelming
evidence that under the circumstances the person could not have
This document only contains the names of those individuals who
died in the line of duty status. Those individuals who were not
in the line of duty at the time of their death are not listed
in this document.
(2) The World War II Army Enlistment Records contain information
on more than nine million indivdual enlistments. These records
can be found online at http://www.archives.gov/.
(3) Both of the documented eyewitness accounts of the downing
of plane #44-69965 can be found online at http://www.pacificwrecks.com.
(4) Additional information about the mission against the industrial
plants at Kobe can be found online at http://www.xmission.com/~tmathews/b29/56years.
(searching now for a valid hyperlink: 12/16/09)
(5) The comprehensive list of names from North High's 1893-2018
graduation classes are from Claradell Shedd's North Des Moines
High School website. The names of all North High School graduates
can be found online at http://www.ndmhs.com/.
Benton Van Horn's 1938 class page can be viewed at
as POW on August 15, 1945. Executed by the Japanese as a POW shortly
before the war ended.
"You Raise Me Up"
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