North 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 of 1953.
Benton H. Van Horn, Jr.
Benton 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 Moines, Iowa.

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.
Click on photo to view enlarged version
On 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 by them.
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 and exploded."

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 above.
Mission:
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 lost include:

B-29-70-BW; AAF Serial No. 44-69965 462nd BG - MACR 14605 - Hull Crew

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, Virginia)
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, Oklahoma)
Navigator: 1st Lt. Benton Van Horn, Jr., POW*, Executed. (Des Moines, Iowa)
V/Radar Opr.: S/Sgt. Arthur H. Weinbauer, POW*, Executed.(Wheaton, Illinois)
Left Blister Gunner: S/Sgt. John N. Zinn, POW*, Executed. (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)
CFC Gunner: T/Sgt. David Fredrick McNeley, POW*, Executed. (Des Moines, Iowa)
(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, Texas? KIA
 
References
The 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 remained alive.
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
http://www.ndmhs.com/pages/yearclass1938(1988.50).html.
Reported as POW on August 15, 1945. Executed by the Japanese as a POW shortly before the war ended.
Music: "You Raise Me Up"
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