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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today led a bipartisan coalition of Senators in introducing a resolution to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the tragic loss of the San Antonio Rose. The resolution seeks to honor the memory of the crew lost by pledging to continue the search to finally bring them home.

The San Antonio Rose was last sighted under heavy attack from Japanese fighters near what is now Papua New Guinea during World War II. All eleven crew members were declared killed in action. 

It is our solemn duty to always honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great nation. This resolution commemorates the Airmen of the San Antonio Rose by ensuring their legacy is long remembered while vowing to return them home to their families,” Boozman said.

As the nation pauses Saturday to recognize the service and sacrifice of those who have lost their lives defending our country, the crew of the San Antonio Rose must never be forgotten. We must honor their memory through continuing this search to fulfill our nation’s promise to finally bring these heroes home,” Blumenthal said. 

Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker, a Medal of Honor recipient and highest ranking officer missing in action during World War II was among those lost on the Rose. His son Doug Walker now lives in New Canaan, Connecticut and has been leading efforts to encourage the search for remains of the plane.

I am deeply grateful to Senator Blumenthal and his staff and the additional support from others members of the Senate who agreed that this is an issue that needs to be elevated in the public and government’s mind. It’s been 75 years and these men, the plane and my father are still out there and we need to get a search started. One way or another that has got to occur in the near term. This resolution is a vitally important step in making that happen,” Walker said.  

The resolution is co-sponsored by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Ted Cruz (R-TX), John Cornyn (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). 

Full text of the resolution follows:

Whereas, in 1943, the ongoing fighting against the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II was treacherous, a decisive outcome hung in the balance, and every victory against the Japanese contributed to the ultimate success in the region;

Whereas, on January 5, 1943, six B–17s of the 43rd Bombardment Group and six B–24s of the 90th Bombardment Group left from Port Moresby, New Guinea, to bomb shipping at Rabaul, New Britain, to break up a major Japanese reinforcement convoy;

Whereas, with the San Antonio Rose, B–17F (No. 41–24458), in the lead, the twelve bombers of the anti-shipping strike proceeded to Rabaul splitting the formation to target shipping in Blanche Bay, Simpson Harbor, Keravia Bay, and Vunapope;

Whereas the American attack surprised the Japanese, and they did not fire anti-aircraft artillery until after the American bombs had been successfully dropped on their targets;

Whereas, when bombers rejoined formation, the San Antonio Rose was no longer in the lead and did not rejoin the formation;

Whereas the San Antonio Rose was last reported to have smoke trailing from the aircraft while being pursued by Japanese fighters into the clouds heading south just east of Vunakanau, New Britain Island, in what is now Papua New Guinea;

Whereas the San Antonio Rose was never sighted again;

Whereas the crew onboard the San Antonio Rose were declared missing in action on January 5, 1943 and subsequently declared killed in action on December 12, 1945;

Whereas the members of the crew of the San Antonio Rose included—

Pilot, Major Allen Lindberg, New York, New York

Co-Pilot, Captain Benton H. Daniel, Hollis, Oklahoma

Bombardier, 2nd Lieutenant Robert L. Hand, Fields Store, Texas

Navigator, 1st Lieutenant John W. Hanson, Missoula, Montana

Engineer, Technical Sergeant Dennis T. Craig, New York, New York

Radio, Staff Sergeant Quentin W. Blakely, Washington, District of Columbia

Gunner, Sergeant Leslie A. Stewart, East Chicago, Illinois

Gunner, Private First Class Leland W. Stone, Oakland, California

Gunner, Private First Class William G. Fraser, Jr., San Antonio, Texas

Observer, Lieutenant Colonel Jack W. Bleasdale, San Fernando, California

Observer, Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker, Cerillos, New Mexico; and

Whereas the crew of the San Antonio Rose, including Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker,

Medal of Honor recipient and highest ranking officer missing in action from World War II, have never been recovered and brought home to rest: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) recognizes that the heroic actions and selflessness of the crew of the San Antonio Rose, B–17F (No. 41–24458), led to lessons learned that directly impacted the success of subsequent missions, including the Battle of the Bismarck Sea;

(2) commemorates the 75th anniversary of the loss of the San Antonio Rose and its crew;

(3) expresses gratitude to the Airmen who served aboard the San Antonio Rose for their faithful service; and

(4) honors the memory of the crew of the San Antonio Rose with a pledge to never forget their sacrifice by encouraging the continued search and recovery of their remains, and to fulfill the promise to finally bring them home.