Last Known Activity
John F. Slater was born early in 1920, somewhere in Michigan, according to one account. He joined the Army Air Corps on November 6, 1942, and was stationed at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. According to available records, when he enlisted, his residence was given as Hinds County, Mississippi, while his mother's address was given as St. Louis, Missouri, and his wife's address was reportedly Shawnee, Oklahoma.
After basic training, he attended aerial gunnery school, graduating with a gunner rating. He was then assigned to combat air crew training on the B-29 aircraft. After training, he was assigned to the 881st Bomb Squadron of the 500th Bomb Group, operating from air fields on the island of Saipan.
On May 24, 1945, his aircraft was tasked to a mission over the city of Tokyo. Successfully bombing the South Tokyo dock area, the aircraft turned for home, but was struck by flak and eventually crashed into Tokyo Bay. Only one crew member survived to become a POW.
After the war, Graves Registration discovered several sets of human remains in a grave marked "Unknown" in a Japanese military cemetery. These remains were identified as the crew of Slater's B-29. All the remains were placed in a single coffin and buried at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery. A bronze plaque was mounted over the grave site.
Sgt John F. Slater was the left side gunner on B-29 #42-63486, assigned to the 881st Bomb Squadron, and known as "Z Square 7" from the organizational markings on the vertical stabilizer.
The events of the fatal mission are recorded in full on the Remembrance profile of Captain Eugene M. Thomas, Jr., and will not be duplicated here.
Missing Air Crew Report 14488 applies.
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