Information recounted here was obtained from the VPB-118 book, "The Old Crows, VPB-118, The History of Navy Patrol Bombing Squadron 118." Most of the crew names were compiled by James Pettit. Crew photo courtesy James Pettit of VPB-118.
Lt. Leland P. McCutcheon (PPC), Lt. (jg) Frank Reeve (co-pilot), Ens. William E. Bucklew (co-pilot), Glen W. White AMM1c (plane captain/bow turret), Malden L. Miller AMM2c (mechanic/tail turret), Allen D. Nelson AMM2c (mechanic/port waist turret), James N. Welch AMM3c (mechanic/starboard waist turret), Ben L. Slack ARM2c (1st radio), R. Conrad Dodl ARM3c (2nd radio/forward top turret), Otto A. Bunkers AFC1c (bombardier), James F. Proctor AOM2c (ordnanceman/aft top turret)
Please note: the Bunkers family has identified Otto Bunkers as the person standing all the way on the right in this wonderful photo. One would have to think that photos such as this, showing the Navy photographer, must be fairly rare. Thanks to Darrel White, we now have the photo that the Navy photographer took on that day.
Crew 11 was shot down by an ambush of concealed heavy AA guns on a ferry/gunboat that they intercepted near Shanghai on 7/21/1945. When PPC McCutcheon approached the boat to inspect it, the boat opened up with a devastating hail of AA fire. Ens. Bucklew was incapacitated or killed immediately. A fire engulfed Lt. McCutcheon's lower body. PPC McCutcheon's wingman, "Horse" Thompson (Crew 17), told me in an email that it was his opinion that McCutcheon's plane went into the ocean without any piloting. The VPB-118 book states that McCutcheon made a flaps-up ditch. Regardless of how the plane got in the water, the plane broke up on impact. Some of the crew, though injured, were able to get into life rafts. The survivors were then in danger of attack from the ferry/gunboat, which was approaching rapidly. PPC Thompson and crew courageously chased off the boat after making two or three strafing runs at this heavily armed boat. After about 2 hours a PB2Y-2 Coronado recovered the survivors.
Six crew were killed in action: PPC McCutcheon, Lt. Reeve, Ens. Bucklew, O.A. Bunkers, A.D. Nelson, and J.N. Welch. Three were seriously injured: D. Feldman, B.L. Slack, and G.L. White. Four had less serious injuries and returned to the squadron after recovering: J.F. Proctor, N.A. Marquis, M.L. Miller, and R.C. Dodl.
Crew 11 getting photographed in front of BuNo 59378
Crew 11 getting photographed in front of BuNo 59378 (closeup cropping from previous image)