The Blackened Canteen on Pearl Harbor Day

The US Navy News Service reported on a 6 December 2015 ceremony at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii with a B-29 connection from the “Blackened Canteen.”

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The Blackened Canteen from a B-29 crew crash site in Shizuoka, Japan, with a recessed hand print of a fallen Airman.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Davy Huffman)

“World War II veterans from the United States and Japan joined in silent prayer and poured bourbon whiskey into Pearl Harbor’s hallowed waters during the Blackened Canteen ceremony in observation of Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 6.”

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American and Japanese veterans pour bourbon whiskey into the hallowed waters of Pearl Harbor as a way to observe and celebrate the continued peace and celebrate the continued peace and reconciliation between the two nations during a Blackened Canteen ceremony as part of the 74th Commemoration of Pearl Harbor Day, Dec 6, 2015, at the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Christopher Hubenthal)

The canteen used in the ceremony at Pearl Harbor came from an aircrewman killed in action aboard one of two B-29 Superfortress bombers that collided during a combat mission by the 314th Bombardment Wing against Shizuoka, Japan, on the night of 19/20 June 1945. It was Twentieth Air Force Mission Number 212.

42-65373p42-in-flight-a
B-29 P-42 of the 39th Bomb Group (VH) in formation.  (Courtesy of Col. Michael Dickey, grandson of Sgt. Howard V. Dickey, 61st Camera Tech, via 39th.org)

P-42 in formation
Photo courtesy of Col. Michael Dickey, grandson of Sgt Howard V. Dickey, 61st Camera Tech.

One of the aircraft, Martin-Omaha-built B-29-30-MO Superfortress serial number #42-65373, was from the 39th Bomb Group (Very Heavy), 62nd Bomb Squadron, with crew P-42 (Hopkins Crew). The entire crew of 11 airmen was killed in action.

crew42-a
Crew 42, the Hopkins, Crew, probably Stateside before going overseas with the 62nd Bomb Squadron of the 39th Bomb Group (VH).  (Courtesy Mr. Richard Kelso, son-in-law of Lt. Col. James H. Thompson, via 39th.org)

The other aircraft, Boeing B-29-65-BW Superfortress serial number 44-69881, was from the 29th Bomb Group (Very Heavy), 52nd Bomb Squadron. The entire Everdon crew of 11 airmen, plus one observer aboard, was killed in action.

everdon-crew-a
The Everdon Crew, probably at their airfield in the Mariana Islands, with the 52nd Bomb Squadron of the 29th Bomb Group (VH).  (Courtesy Mr. Joe Chovelak, 29th BG Historian, via 39th.org)

World War II P-51 Mustang pilot Jerry Yellin, who participated in the strategic air war against Japan from his airfield on Iwo Jima, wrote a book that was published in 2008 titled The Blackened Canteen, which offers an in depth look at this story.

The Blackened Canteen cover
(Cover photo courtesy of Amazon.com)

 

The Blackened Canteen is a poignant B-29 campaign artifact which has generated a ripple effect outward from a crash site in Shizuoka. It has enabled some of those in and affected by the strategic air war over Japan to find closure, and/or reconciliation as they grapple with the searing experience that it was. It may offer many others occasion to think about conflict and war, past and present, and hopefully help us to avoid such deadly and destructive clashes in the future.

References

U.S., Japanese WWII Vets honor fallen with Blackened Canteen spirits, at: http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=92295

Mission Summary for Mission 212, at: http://www.20thaf.org/missions/212.htm

20th Air Force bomb group links, at: http://www.20thaf.org/groups/20thorg.htm

39th Bomb Group Mission Date: 19-20 June 1945, at: http://39th.org/39th/history/missions/mission30.htm

Hopkins Crew listing, at: http://39th.org/39th/aerial/62nd/crew42.html

Everson Crew listing, at: http://www.29bg.com/planeinfo.cfm?pid=20

Everdon Crew Picture, at:  http://www.39th.org/39th/aerial/62nd/crew42a.html

“A somber ritual upon a mountaintop,” at: http://www.pacaf.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/377/Article/593104/a-somber-ritual-upon-a-mountaintop.aspx

“Airmen honor fallen at annual B-29 ceremony,” at: http://www.yokota.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123352991

Joint Memorial Service in Shizuoka City, at: http://www.39th.org/39th/aerial/62nd/crew42a.html

B-29 42-65373, 65373 (39th BG, 62nd BS) collided in midair with B-29 44-69881 Jun 20, 1945 and crashed into Pacific while on mission to Shizuoka, Japan. MACR 14833. All 11 crew killed. At: http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1942_3a.html

B-29 44-69881, 69881 (29th BG, 52nd BS) collided in midair with B-29 42-65373 on mission to Shizuoka Jun 20, 1945. A11 12 crew killed. At: http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1944_4.html

Yellin, Jerry, The Blackened Canteen, at: http://www.amazon.com/Blackened-Canteen-JERRY-YELLIN/dp/1421890186

And at: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blackened-canteen-jerry-yellin/1102252756#productInfoTabs

Jerry Yellin website, at: http://captainjerryyellin.com/

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