Henry Lee Gurley Memorial

I received the following email and information from Kevin Reeder regarding his uncle, Henry Lee Gurley who’s plane and crew went missing during a mission in Japan on August 4th, 1945.  I thought it was a nice way to remember Henry so I am reposting for others to see.


Rich Ziebart

Henry Lee Gurley's Plane
Henry Lee Gurley’s Plane
 This information may help in detailing what happened that dreadful night for Henry and his crew.
Additional information regarding the Intruder missions to Kanoya Airdrome, Kyushu Japan, flown by Henry Lee Gurley and Stanley E. Logan:
(All times Okinawa time)  Henry Lee Gurley took off at 9:15 p.m. (2115) on August 4, 1945.  He WOULD have returned to base about 2:45 a.m. (0245) on August 5, 1945.  Stanley E. Logan took off on August 5, 1945 at 10:30 (2230) p.m..  Mr. Logan RETURNED to Kadena Airbase, on Okinawa, at 4:00 a.m. (0400) on the morning of August 6, 1945.  The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima the morning of August 6, 1945 at 8:15 (0815) a.m..  The bomb was dropped on Hiroshima just a little over 4 hours after Mr. Logan returned to base on Okinawa.  See a portion of Mr. Logan’s recap of his missions, copied below.  
The second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.  (Interesting note:  Nagasaki is about 75 miles NE of Kanoya Airdrome, the location of the mission of these two 418th pilots!)  The Japanese announced their formal surrender on August 15, 1945.  The formal surrender documents were signed, in Tokoyo Bay, on the USS Missouri, on Sunday, September 2, 1945
Kevin Reeder 
418th Night Fighter Squadron Night Intruder Missions to Japan
                                     by former 1st Lt. Stanley E. Logan, January21, 2011
Our first of three missions over Japan: Our first Japan mission (as in all missions, my RO crewmate was Lt. George Kamajian) was the night of August 5/6, 1945.  We took off from Okinawa under darkness at 2230 for Kanoya Airdrome, in the southeast corner of Kyushu, close to Kagoshima Bay, and ultimately arrived back at base at 0400.  While over the Kanoya target, approximately twelve encircling searchlights swept around looking for us.  One twice swept through the cockpit momentarily lighting it up like daylight each time without seeing us (thanks glossy black paint!).  One searchlight appeared to be directed by sound as it was stationary @ some one hundred yards or so to starboard, moving with us each time I adjusted course.  I did not radio down telling them about their apparent static error… This was of concern because high-altitude photo reconnaissance had revealed some 240 defending anti-aircraft gun emplacements (50 cal up to about 90 mm).  We dropped our two bombs during a run through an aiming point on the nearby coastline, counting off the seconds for the intervening distance.  This was not precision bombing but the encircling searchlights confirmed our location as interrupting their  activities.  One of our other planes in the sequence to Kanoya that night, with a three man crew including gunner, was lost. (note by Kevin Reeder – This is Henry Lee’s plane, and crew, that Mr. Logan references here.  I think it is obvious, now, that Henry Lee’s plane SHOULD have returned VERY EARLY on the morning of August 5, 1945, which is the very same date that Mr. Logan departed on the EXACT same mission.)
After a couple hours sleep after landing at 0400 on August 6, I arose and heard over armed forces radio sometime around 0900 Japan time, that an atomic bomb, having the explosive power of 20,000 tons of TNT was dropped that morning on Hiroshima.  This was our first indication of why five cities were circled on our operations map! I immediately recalled a small article in the Chicago Tribune in the late 30s which included something like: A ship could sail around the world with the energy from an amount of uranium that you could smudge on the end of your nose.  I know from later studies in Nuclear Engineering that  this was a big overstatement and that it didn’t reveal that some tons of the stuff were needed to make a controlled critical system.  Anyway, that morning on Okinawa I thought: WOW, atomic power!! — I was impressed!  I attempted unsuccessfully to locate that Tribune article in 2005.  It may have been related to the announcement by Neils Bohr on January 25, 1939 at a George Washington University conference that nuclear fission had just been discovered, and that America had first heard the news of splitting of uranium in a talk by a speaker named Rosenfeld at a meeting of the Princeton Physics Dept. Journal Club on January 16, 1939. I was still in my first year of high school at that time.  My search of Chicago Tribune microfilm for 1939 did not reveal the article I wanted.

On Tue, Aug 4, 2015 at 3:51 PM, Kevin R wrote:

Once again, August 4 has come upon us. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the loss of my mother’s brother.

On this date at 9:15 pm, Okinawa time, Henry Lee Gurley departed  Kadena Airstrip B in a P61B-15 NUMBER 42-39591. He was pilot in command of a crew of 3 on a mission to Kanoya Airdrome on Kyushu, Japan.  He was in the 418th night fighter squadron with the U.S. Army Air Corps. As you all know, he was never heard from again.
Mr Stanley E Logan flew this exact mission on the night of August 5, 1945. Stan was in a P61B-15 NUMBER 42-39596. Stan was also in the 418th and survived this mission and several others in the Pacific.  I am proud to have him as my friend.
Kevin Reeder

Leave a Reply