Rescued Over The Sea Of Japan


For each one of us, life is a remarkable adventure, with each new day bringing new experiences and surprises that unfold in their own time. If you were a crewmember of a B-29 or RB-29, involved in flying combat missions during the Korean War, your life had a healthy mix of the routine mixed in with a collection of remarkable and unpredictable events. This story documents the experiences of a B-29 crew, in life-threatening circumstances, being rescued through a chance encounter with an RB-29 crew. The source of this story is the Hastings (Nebraska) Daily Tribune, Monday, January 8, 1951.

Captain Bassett of Hastings Gets Home
With Assist From Grand Island Pilot

“It’s a small world,” is the conclusion of Captain John K. Bassett of the Unites States Air Force who is flying bombing missions over Korea.

In a letter to the Tribune relating an unusual experience, Captain Bassett of Hastings writes:

“On November 2, as I was returning from a mission over North Korea, my aircraft was struck by lightning in a heavy thunderstorm over the Sea of Japan.

“The bolt entered the aircraft via, a radio antenna, passed through the body of a waist gunner and left through the side of the plane doing considerable damage.

“Besides blinding and burning the gunner to an extent that he immediately went into a state of shock, the bolt destroyed all of the electrically operated radio and navigation equipment, except for the magnetic compass, which appeared to function correctly.

“However, after following a compass course for some time, the navigator informed me that the lightning had magnitized the compass to a point where it was giving a false reading of more than 60 degrees.

“We were still flying on instruments, with a wounded man aboard who needed prompt medical attention and had no idea what our position was. I called over the radio ‘blind’ to any aircraft monitoring that frequency and, in a few minutes, I received a very welcome reply from a
B-29 pilot who was also returning from Korea.

Capt. John K. Bassett

“I explained my predicament to him, and by ‘homing in’ on my radio transmissions, he located us, and in a few minutes was flying on our wing.

“He shepherded us back to our base without further incident.

“When I checked in later to find out who our unknown benefactor was I discovered he was First Lieutenant Earl Myers of Grand Island.”

“Captain Bassett’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Bassett, live east of Hastings. He attended Hastings high school in 1942 and before entering the Air Force was a shipping forman for the Debus Baking Company.

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