It was December 23, 1944 when the 33 planes of the 397th Bomb Group were sent on the mission to stop the German advance and destroy supply lines at the bridge along the Moselle River near Eller, Germany. At around 10:20 a.m. over the area of Malmedy, Belgium German antiaircraft gunners hit two of the U.S. bombers: the first being Hunconcious and the second Bank Nite Betty. Hunconcious was hit on the right engine causing it to go into a snap roll and Bank Nite Betty was hit in such a way that the plane split in half before they fell from the sky. All men from both aircraft perished. At the end of the war all men were accounted for except Lt. Cook and his crew aboard the Hunconcious.
During the 1990s investigators began researching the crash and whereabouts of Hunconcious, but it wasn’t until the fall of 2006 that the mystery of Hunconcious began to unfold. A German forestry worker associated with the Airwar History Working Group Rhine-Moselle found an impact crater along with other parts of an aircraft and clothing fragments. One most important item that was discovered was the collar of a winter bomber jacket. The collar was marked H-7489, the ID number of Sergeant Eric Honeyman who was the toggler aboard Hunconcious.
Years passed before a proper search and excavation was done of the area. In 2011 the History of Flight group became involved and began the process of searching and excavating the crash site. Excavation began in the year 2012. Large amounts of plane parts were discovered along with bone fragments from the crew members. Bone fragments were sent to JPAC (Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command) for DNA testing to determine their identity. All crew members of the Hunconcious were positively identified and their remains were sent home to be laid to rest:
- Pilot, William Parker Cook was buried in Oakland, California on October 26, 2014.
- Co-pilot, Arthur J. LeFavre was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on August 18, 2015.
- Staff Sergeant Ward Swalwell, Jr. Was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on August 20, 2015.
- Staff Sergeant Frank G. Lane, Jr. Was buried in Willoughby, Ohio on May 2, 2015.
- Staff Sergeant Maurice J. Fevold was buried in Badger, Iowa on October 20, 2014.
- Sergeant Eric Honeyman was buried in British Columbia, Canada on June 22, 2015.
To honor Staff Sargeant Ward Swalwell Jr. and the other men aboard Hunconcious there will be a display at Boone County Public Library’s Scheben Branch throughout the month of November. Staff Sargeant Swalwell’s sister is a resident of Boone County and we are honored to share her brother’s story.
Lindy Edmondson is a reference librarian at the Scheben Branch. She is a graduate of Indiana University and has been with Boone County Public Library for eight years.
Story referenced from the MIA Project : http://www.miaproject.net/mia-search-recoveries/hunconscious/