Born around 1915 in New York
Memorialized at Manila American Cemetery, Philippines
90th Bombardment Group, 320th Bombardment Squadron, 5th Air Force
Aircraft B-24D-5-CO with serial number 41-23772, nickname Little Eva, took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moreby on a bombing mission against a Japanese convoy bound for Lae, sighted east of Finscahfen in the Huon Gulf. This B-24 was given the convoy’s position via radio and flew to the target at 7,000′ though broken clouds and did not spot the convoy until they overflew it.
As the B-24 made its bomb run, it was attacked by eight escorting Zeros attacking in pairs, making seven or eight passes head on. The nose gun ceased firing and a shell severely wounded pilot Altman was in his head and also hurt the radio operator Brigham.
Taking the controls, co-pilot Smith dove down to 2,000′ and tried to evade the Zeros in clouds, but they continued to damage the bomber, setting the no. 3 engine on fire, but was extinguished using the the fire extinguisher, but the no. 2 engine also caught fire and was extinguished, but the propeller would not feather. Smith called for the crew to prepare to ditch, but responded.
Smith and wounded Altman tried to make a smooth water landing, but suffered a violent impact, submerging the nose section. Smith was able to escape through the cockpit window and shouted for others, but responded. Swimming to a floating life raft, the plane sank presumably with the rest of the crew aboard. Alone, Smith rowed to shore.
Pilot, 2nd Lt Dayton S. Altman
Co-Pilot, Lt Norman D. Smith
Navigator, 2nd Lt. William H. Hoyt, Jr.
Bombardier, 2nd Lt Herbert H. Gardner
Crew, T/Sgt Freddie K. Affeld
Radio Operator, T/Sgt Francis M. Brigham
Crew, S/Sgt Vincent H. Calise
Crew, S/Sgt John F. Ratliff
Crew, S/Sgt Francis H. Bogucki