Robert “Rab” Morgan Phillips was the son of Henry Stiles Phillips and Dena Ashley.
2nd Lieutenant Robert M. Phillips O-806902 US Army Air Forces was a Pilot. He was married to Miss Betty Hiland of Knoxville. He was assigned to the 869th Bomber Squadron, 497th Bomber Group (Very Heavy), 73rd Bomber Wing of the 20th Air Force flying B-29’s off of Saipan.
On the 9th of January 1945, 2nd Lt Phillips was the substitute, replacing 2nd Lt Jack H. “Cactus” Vetters as Pilot on board the Veteran B-29 42-24598 “Waddy’s Wagon” for a mission to Tokyo. “Waddy’s Wagon” was commanded by Capt Walter R. “Waddy” Young. Young was an All American on Oklahoma’s 1938 Orange Bowl Team and had played two years in the NFL. He and his crew had been the fifth B-29 to take off from Saipan on the first raid on Tokyo, and the first back.
On the 9th of January 1945 “Waddy’s Wagon” took off from Saipan to bomb the Nakajima Aircraft Factory in Musashino, Japan. Coming off the target as stated in B-29 Hunter’s of the JAAF: “Another victim of a ramming was “Miss Behaving” AC #42-24655 from the 497th Bomb Group, flown by 1st Lt Ben Crowell. Capt Walter Young in “Waddy’s Wagon” tried to cover for his crippled wingmate as they headed out of the target area but eventually lost them. Young’s aircraft had also sustained hits from enemy fighters, and he in turn eventually ditched his aeroplane into the sea. Both crews were lost.” They ditched in the Pacific Ocean near the island of Hachijo Shima. The crew was declared dead on 10 January 1946.
“Waddy’s Wagon” (A5)
Boeing-Wichita B-29-40-BW Superfortress
Serial number 42-24598
869th Bomb Squadron, 497th Bomb Group, 73rd Bomb Wing, 20th Air Force
Capt. Walter R. “Waddy” Young – Command Pilot (KIA) O-382584 Ponca City, Oklahoma
2nd Lt. Robert M. Phillips – Pilot (KIA) O-806902 Knoxville, Tennessee
2nd Lt. Paul R. “Gat” Garrison, Jr. – Navigator (KIA) O-698695 Lancaster, Pennsylvania
2nd Lt. John F. Ellis – Bombardier (KIA) O-685457 Moberly, Missouri
2nd Lt. Bernard S. “Bunny” Black – Flight Engineer (KIA) O-866285 Woodhaven, New York
Sgt. George E. “Sparks” Avon – Radio Operator (KIA) 32936470 Syracuse, New York
S/Sgt. Kenneth M. “Windy” Mansir – Radar Operator (KIA) 11097819 Randolph, Missouri
Sgt. Lawrence L. “Lucky” Lee – Central Fire Control (KIA) 37252164 Max, North Dakota
Sgt. Wilbur J. “Sleepy” Chapman – Right Gunner (KIA) 38606304 Panhandle, Texas
Sgt. Corbett L. Carnegie – Left Gunner (KIA) 12214591 Grindstone Island, New York
S/Sgt. Joseph J. Gatto – Tail Gunner (KIA) 12024315 Falconer, New York
The crew posing to duplicate their caricatures in the nose art of Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Waddy’s Wagon”, 869th Bomb Squadron, 497th Bomb Group, 73rd Bomb Wing, 20th Air Force. Isley Airfield in Saipan, 24 November 1944. Phillips is not pictured as is noted above.
The Knoxville Journal, 29 January 1945
Lt. Robert M. “Rab” Phillips, husband of Mrs. Betty Hilands Phillips, 1634 Laurel Avenue, has been missing in action in the “Pacific Ocean area” since Jan. 9, the war Department notified his wife last night. Lieuteant Phillips was pilot of the Saipan-based B-29 Superfortress, “Waddy’s Wagon,”on the Nov. 26 raid on Tokyo. His plane commander was Waddy R. Young, former All-American football star from Oklahoma University. His group commander was Col. Robert Morgan, pilot of the fames “Memphis Belle.” Phillips was a 1941 graduate of the University of Tennessee Engineering School, and was president of Kappa Sigma fraternity there. The son of Mr. and Mrs. H.S. Phillips of Memphis, Lieutenant Phillips was employed by General Chemicals Co. at Wilmington, Del., before entering service in September, 1942. He received his wings at Marianna, Fla., in the spring of 1943, and immediately began training for the giant B-29 bomber. Military securityy forbade revealing the date when he went overseas last summer. His wife is the daughter of Mrs. Ann H. Hilands of the Laurel Avenue address.
Picture from the University of Tennessee yearbook 1941
- Rank: Second Lieutenant
- Date of birth: 30 March 1919
- Date of death: 9 January 1945
- County: Knox
- Hometown: Knoxville
- Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
- Division/Assignment: 869th Bomber Squadron, 497th Bomber Group, Very Heavy
- Theater: Pacific
- Conflict: World War II
- Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart
- Burial/Memorial Location: Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii
- Location In Memorial: Pillar VIII, Middle Panel
- Contact us to sponsor Robert M. Phillips
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