RICH  JOSEPH  C    O-739054    2 LT    KIA
World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army Air Forces


Joseph C. Rich
Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces
Service # 0-739054
373rd Bomber Squadron, 308th Bomber Group, Heavy  
Entered the Service from: Maine
Died: September 13, 1944
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines  
Awards: Purple Heart
Courtesy of Lisa Phillips and

Rich, Joseph C., 2ndLt. .

One of the strongest persons behind our drive for
recovery of remains and locating the crashed C-47B
is Lisa Phillips, the niece of Lt. Rich. Joseph C. Rich
was the third child born to Joseph and Charlotte
Rich of Portland, Maine. He enlisted December 8,
1941. He married Bernice Regan in 1942 in Salina,
Kansas. Trained as a navigator, he received a
commission as a Second Lieutenant and was
assigned to a B-24 crew, the commander of which
was Lt. Thomas Stephen. Other crew members were
Lt. Edward F. Ryan (co-pilot), Lt. Royal D. Butterfield
(bombadier), Sgt. Joseph C. McClung (engineer), Sgt
Ewell C. Temples, (Asst. radio operator/gunner), Sgt
Fred Hart (radio operator), SSgt Thomas Smeal (Asst.
Eng./gunner), Sgt Charles Pero (gunner) and Sgt
John F. Cook (gunner). The crew was assigned to
the 308th Heavy Bomb Group, attached to 14th Air
Force, China. The 308th comprised four squadrons:
373rd, 374th, 375th, and the 425th, all of which
operated out of bases in western China.
Arriving in China, they were initially assigned to the
373rd Squadron in Yangkai. They were hardly settled
when they were sent to India to assist repelling the
advancing Japanese Army in Burma, specifically in
the Rangoon area. The crew was assigned to a B-24
nicknamed "Maxwell House II," Tail no. 43-73245,
senior pilot Lt. Richard Merideth, commanding.
On November 27, 1943, the Maxwell House II, along
with 23 other B-24s, were sortied to bombthe Insein
Work Shops, with secondary targets of Henzada,
Thayetmye, and Akyab. Five turned back. Two aircraft
were lost, including Maxwell House II and aircraft tail
no. 42-73313, commanded by Lt. Kellam. The Maxwell
House II suffered an engine shot out and on fire with
Lt. Rich caught in the fire. Three of the crewmen
perished that day: Pero, Smeal, and Ryan. The
remainder bailed out. Five were shot and killed
while still in the air in their parachutes: Hart,
Merideth, Stephen, Temples, and Cook. Lt. Rich, Lt.
Butterfield, and Sgt McClung were captured and
imprisoned in the infamous Rangoon Prison Camp.
Lt. Butterfield died of beri-beri June 24, 1944. Having
received no medical care for his wounds, Lt. Rich
recovered from the burns but subsequently died of
beri-beri, dysentry, scabies, malnutrition, and
physical abuse; at death weighing only 80 pounds.
Before dying, he gave McClung his wedding band,
which McClung hid and later returned to Captain
Bernice Rich.
Lt. Rich was awarded the Purple Heart, Prisoner of
War Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation,
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four bronze
stars, World War II Victory Medal, the Honorable
Service Lapel Button (WW II) and the Gold Star Lapel
Portland Press Herald - July 19, 1945
Portland Press Herald - 1946
Courtesy of Lisa Phillips and
Courtesy of Lisa Phillips and