1Lt. Richard W. "Dick" Dobyns, ASN 0-2065735

Radar Observer - Hardison Crew

10th Air Force / 7th Bombardment Group / 9th & 493rd Bombardment Squadrons

(Images/Info Courtesy of a Richard Dobyns)

28 Combat Missions

Air Medal w/Oak Leaf Cluster    Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon w/3 Battle Stars

World War II Victory Ribbon    Distinguished Unit Badge

Service Chronology:

10 Mar 43: Entered Service - Fort Dix, NJ 28 Mar 43: Arrived Camp Callan, CA - Anti-Aircraft OCS
25 Aug 43: Transferred Air Corps - Arrive Miami Beach, FL
02 Sep 43: Arrived Galesburg, IL, CTD, Knox College
20 Dec 43: Arrived San Antonio, TX - Aviation Cadet Center
01 Jan 44: Arrived Houston, TX, Ellington Field - PreFlight school
02 Mar 44: Arrived San Marcos, TX, AAF Navigation school
31 Jul 44: Graduated Navigation School as 2nd Lt.
15 Aug 44: Arrived Boca Raton, FL - Radar school
15 Sep 44: Arrived Langley Field, VA - Advanced Radar school
21 Jan 45: Arrived Mitchell Field, NH - staging area for new crews
03 Feb 45: Arrived Grenier Field, NH - Port of Embarkation
"In our plane B-24 #44-50389, a shining black radar ship"
05 Feb 45: Arrived Gander Lake, Newfoundland
08 Feb 45: Arrived Lapens AAF, Terciera Isle, Azores
09 Feb 45: Arrived Marrakech, French Morocco
10 Feb 45: Arrived Tripoli, Libya, Castel Benito Field
12 Feb 45: Arrived John Payne AAF, Cairo, Egypt
13 Feb 45: Arrived Abadan, Iran
14 Feb 45: Arrived Karachi, India
15 Feb 45: Arrived Ondal, India
17 Feb 45: Arrived Pandaveswar, India - attached to 7th Bomb Group, 9th BS
(Transferred to 493rd BS shortly after)
Total Time of Crossing: 55 hours, 5 minutes
16 Jan 46: Relieved from Active Duty

Jack E. Hardison Crew:

Lt. Jack Hardison (P), Lt. Robert L. Waterbury (CP), Lt. James H. Hill (N), Lt. Jay M. Teasdale (B), 1Lt. Richard Dobyns (Radar)

John Rawlings (E), John Casano (RO), Lamar Cobb (NG), Charles Reardon (G)

History of B-24 #44-50389

My crew, Hardison's crew, left Mitchell Field on February 2, 1945 in this brand new, radar equipped shiny black ship. We never officially named it but affectionately called it the "Big Assed Bird."

We flew the northern route to our destination - the CBI Theatre. We flew straight through, another stop daily until we reached John Payne Airfield in Cairo. We all wanted to see the pyramids, so we faked colds and we got to lay over a day or so we could see them. We arrived at our home base Pandaveswar, India on February 17, 1945.

This ship was the first aircraft in the CBI equipped with radar, and was used to lead most of the squadron missions because of this.

The "Big Assed Bird" flew its last mission on June 28, 1945 with Lt. Sommers' crew aboard. It was lost over Burma. The last contact with them was near Akyab at 1330. We never found out what happened to them. They just disappeared.

Recollections of Mission of 22 March 45

In early March of 1945, preparations were being made for the invastions of Japanese-held Rangoon by the allied forces in the CBI theatre. As part of that plan to achieve surprise, an effort was waged to destroy, or render ineffective, Japanese radar stations that were monitoring any possible allied naval of aircraft activity in the Bay of Bengal. One such Japanese installation was located on Grand Coco Island at the northern-most tip of the Andaman Islands, 125 miles off the coast of Burma. The 9th Bomb Squadron was called upon to destroy this installation. Three heavy bomber B-24 crews were selected to carry out the mission. These ten-man crews were identified by the name of the pilot who led them. Thus, the crews were(Capt. Charles E.) McCoy, (Lt. Jack E.) Hardison and (Lt. Thomas L.) Murphy. I was the radar navigator on the Hardison crew. We were based in India about 100 miles northwest of Calcutta. The crews all knew one another, and because of the desolate location we were in, we all became quite close. They briefed our three crew long before daybreak, because they wanted us at the target around noon and it was six hours down and six hours back. We had about an hour before takeoff and our three crews got together and discussed the mission and tried to relax. Though Capt. McCoy was in command, since we were to fly in trail (follow the leader), my crew took off first and were lead, because we had the only radar equipped plane among the three. Following orders, when we crossed the coast of India, we dropped down to an altitude of 500 feet to avoid radar detection. You can imaging the difficulty for our pilots, flying at 500 feet over water for about six hours. When we were about fifteen minutes from Grand Coco we went up to 1500 feet to check the target on our radar. Once it was verified we slow-dived to 150 feet for the bomb run. The radar station was at the base of a lighthouse, sitting on top of a cliff, right on the water. We were below the lighthouse as we came in. We were receiving small arms fire and tracers coming at us from several directions, but our bombardier Jay Teasdale didn't drop on the first pass. He said he couldn't "line up" and didn't want to miss. I recall our navigator Jim Hill yelling over the intercome, "Next time drop the God-damned bombs!" The bombs were dropped right on target on the second pass while I was standing on the flight deck between Hardison and co-pilot Bob Waterbury. As we made a sharp turn to the left we noticed another B-24 out to our right and suddenly both right engines burst into flames. The plane shuddered and then plunged into the water and erupted into an enormous ball of fire. We circled back immediately but all we say was debris along with a 10-man emergency dinghy that had inflated and popped to the surface, upside down. Frustrated, with nothing we could o, we climbed to altitude and headed home not knowing which of the other two aircraft had crashed. We were under strict instructions not to break radio silence during the mission, and we headed north wondering which crew it could have been. Suddenly, we heard Capt. McCoy say ever so softly, "McCoy here. Murphy?" Our pilot answered, "Hardison." McCoy then said, "I guess Murphy lost his average." There was silence the rest of the way home. Our crew was glad that McCoy had guessed wrong about who he thought went down, but we were all heartbroken that these brave men would never go home.

As the years have raced by since I came home to this unbelievable country that gave me an education I could never have afforded. Married, a wonderful woman who gave me five loving children along with six loving grandchildren, and recently a great-grandson, my thoughts still return to those ten men. Ten men that never got to hug a grandchild. Ten men who died instantly by the side of a desolate island in the Bay of Bengal. THEY DIED FOR ALL OF US. Let us never forget.

9th BS Personnel

493rd BS Personnel

7th BG Personnel