The Marks Report

Captain Jack S. Marks


36th Bombardment Squadron


The Marks Report is the Official After Action Report filed by Captain Jack S. Marks, the pilot of Boeing B-17B serial number 38-215. This aircraft and crew were stationed at Ladd Field, Alaska, and attached to the Cold Weather Testing Detachment, where it was used as a flying testbed . It was flown down to Kodiak Naval Station in late May 1942, where the crew was informed that they were to be assigned to Umnak Field and would fly offensive patrols under the command of Navy Patrol Wing 4. Returning to Ladd Field in Fairbanks, the crew unloaded all testing equipment, and installed bomb shackles, machine guns and long range fuel tanks. They returned to Kodiak, then to Umnak Field on 2 June 1942, where the Marks Report begins.

The crew members from the Cold Weather Testing Detachment (CWTD) were:

Captain Jack S. Marks - Pilot

Captain Richard C. Ragle - Co-Pilot

1st Lt. Harold E. Mitts - Navigator

M/Sgt Carol V. Hunter - Bombardier

T/Sgt Walter A. Gilbert - Crew Chief

T/Sgt Wilson E. Ogan - Engineer/Gunner

T/Sgt Bruno Grossi - Radioman

S/Sgt Orlan F. Floris - Mechanic/Gunner

S/Sgt Kenneth E. Nelson - Gunner

S/Sgt William T. Sexton - Mechanic/Gunner

Note: The "Marks Report" appears below on these pages by the gracious permission of author, Mr. Rhodes Arnold. The report appears as the third chapter in his book, "Foul Weather Front – A History of Air Operations in the North Pacific Vol. 1"

Mr. Arnold was a Radar Intelligence Officer with the 28th Bombardment Group (C) during WWII.

(Reformatted for web page presentation)


Jack S. Marks

36th BS

Report of Combat Operations


In the Hoover Archives at Stanford University are the papers of Robert A. Theobald, the admiral who commanded the Alaskan Theater at the time of the Dutch Harbor attack, and in those files can be found the following first hand account of those first few days:

Statement of Captain Jack S. Marks

Army Air Corps, U.S. Army

Made 9 June 1942


2 June B-17B, non-radar [38-215,#1], arrived on Umnak to relieve B-17E, radar, in afternoon. We’re informed special mission B-17E the following morning and B-17B to make Aleutian Island patrol.

[As of 1 June the 36th BS had on strength the B-17B, one B-17E, 2 LB-30s, & 2 B-18s. The B-17E and the LB-30s were equipped with primitive radar of the day. Four B-17Es were enroute from Edmonton, flown by civil airways veterans, and three other B-17Es were enroute one day behind the four.]

3 June All planes alerted for 0230. [A dispatch had been received advising, "JAP CARRIER PLANES IN AREA NOT OVER FOUR HUNDRED MILES SOUTH OF KISKA X MAKE EVERY EFFORT COMPLETE SCHEDULED NIGHT SEARCHES TWO JUNE X PARTICULARLY SOUTHERN SECTORS". Took off 0730 upon hearing Dutch Harbor under attack. Both aircraft attempted to contact Dutch. but B-17E had old coil. B-17B returned to Kodiak later that day, patrol unknown. Can get from Capt. [Russell] Cone, his call A28VO. B-17B turned at the south shore of Adak Island 1045 in zero zero weather and returned patrolling north shore of island.

[Robert Speer’s radar operator, James Ryan, had seen blips on his radar scope in the LB-30 they were flying on patrol, and so reported to intelligence when they landed, but the report was discounted. No doubt Ryan had spotted the Japanese fleet!]

Arrived Umnak 1230 where Capt. [Milton] Ashkins of Pursuit, informed us two cruiser scout planes had been over the field. Eleventh pursuit had shot down one and drove other off. A PBY [possibly 7292, 42-P-4] shot such a plane down, probably the same one, shortly thereafter. [The man who possibly shot down Tadayoshi Koga’s Zero was Wheeler H. Rawls of Albert E. Mitchell’s crew of VP-42].

At this time a radio report gave the position of the enemy seventy-five miles south of Umnak or Unalaska Island. Capt. [Owen Jack] Meals of B-26s [at that time there six B-26s & 17 P-40s at Fort Glenn] expected to take off, but was ordered not to by Col. Foster.

[J.G. Breeding, VP-41, stated, "receiving orders to land at Umnak and load with torpedo we found five or six B-26s loaded with torpedos. There would be quite some delay in loading our torpedos, due to the lack of equipment. Bill Theiss and I contacted Colonel Foster to see if they would take off on attack".  Colonel Foster said he was taking orders from Lt. Cdr. Foley and he suggested to the pilots of the B-26s that they remain on the ground until orders were received. Due to the fact that the enemy forces were located and a PBY was sending MOs and tracking the enemy, we felt that all planes available should be attacking. When I suggested to Col. Foster that I send a message to L/C Foley telling him of the B-26s awaiting his orders the Col told me not to do it and stay right where I was.

I disregarded his orders and sent the following message, Six B-26s loaded with torpedos here awaiting your orders to takeoff. PBYs are now loading torpedos. orders immediately came from L/C Foley for the B-26s to take off immediately. During our conversation with Col. Foster, he repeatedly said that he was taking orders from the Navy from a person fourteen years his junior"]

We refueled and took off in B-17B at 130 and searched an area 120 miles long and 40 mile wide, parallel to the coast line, starting seventy five mile off shore. We landed at 1650 in snowstorm to find Capt. Meals had finally been allowed to take off. one B-26 with torpedo was damaged in landing in the snowstorm; however, Col. [Thad V.] Foster’s orders preventing take-off had nothing to do with the weather.

Approximately 2130 a PBY landed and gave a position fifty seven miles from Otter Point, on a course of 144 degrees. It was growing dark; the runway crosswind, unlighted, with one half mile visibility. Col. Foster ordered pursuits and bombers to take off, although I was working under the Navy [one B-17E, the B-17B & two LB-30s had been assigned to Navy control out of Kodiak]. Capt. Ashkins refused to take off. I told Capt. Meals I would make the flight and inform him if it was practical for is airplanes.

I took off at 2150. I searched the area, but did not have a report on the course of the enemy'’ ships and failed to find them in the dark. I returned to find my instructions to Col. Foster regarding lightning the field had not been carried out, but managed to get down on my fourth attempt by the aid of a biscuit gun lights operated by Major Gilkes at 2248.

[At Fort Randall, Cold Bay, there were sixteen P-40s & six B-26s, which, with those at Fort Glenn, were the entire force available to counter the enemy attack.]

4 June – Alerted at 0230; took off at 0355 and searched south shore of island chain southwest 350 miles to Ikiginak Volcano. Sighted a PBY [probably 42-P-6 of Lucius D. Campbell of VP-42] on beach 38 miles southwest of Otter Bay. This position was reported upon landing and a rescue boat was arranged through Dutch Harbor and Fort Glenn and returned and searched north shore and landed at 0845.

[Lucius D. Campbell, in 42-P-6, contacted the Japanese fleet at 1700, but was forced down by fighters. Campbell made radar contact with 4 large ships and 25 miles from the ships he was attacked by fighters. The PBY was riddled by small caliber bullets and one hit with a 20mm which took out half of the forward starboard strut. One man was badly wounded, the radio was damaged, the rudder control severed, tanks were punctured and there was a fire in the tunnel. The fire went out, so Campbell made four more radar contacts, seeing four ships in a diamond. when his fuel was low he turned toward Scotch Gap and deadsticked the Cat down to the water]

Took off form sector patrol 1030 and to search an area 205 degrees true, 195 mile from Otter Point upon position from Navy Radio. We searched an area 70 by 120 miles with flight lines five miles apart unsuccessfully, due to low visibility, and landed at 1620 to find Col. [William O.] Eareckson and the B-26s on the ground.

One B-26 [40-1408] pilot, [George] Thornbrough, had not landed at Umnak. Later information showed he and Lt. [Harry] Taylor spotted the fleet 185 degrees from the west tip of Umnak 165 mile out. Lt. Taylors bombardier and airplane were hit by anti-aircraft and chased by fighters. He did not drop his torpedo since his bombardier was injured. Lt. Taylor dive bombed the deck of the carrier, which appeared immediately below him under 250 foot ceiling, with his torpedo. It did not explode since it had not been armed [With Thornbrough were N. A. Nysteen, J.F. Lee, R.E. Jordan, J.L. Wiseman, H.K. Jaycox & ?? Smart].

Lt. Taylor returned to Cold Bay, loaded with bombs and returned to attack the fleet. Later that night he was heard on radio 9000 feet over the Aleutian Peninsula with 15 minutes of gas left. This was the last contact with him.

Col. Eareckson’s B-26 damaged its props attempting to taxi over the Umnak landing strip in an area pointed out as fit by Col. Foster and left his ship there, returning to Cold Bay by transport. We loaded with three 1000 and one 500 pound bombs in our bomb bay. Report came in – Dutch Harbor was under attack. We had cowlings off number two engine fixing defective manifolds.

We installed cowlings, started engines and took off immediately, at 1840. When 300 feet in the air, I noticed a formation of three airplanes at 500 feet flying from the direction of Dutch Harbor with a fourth plane above and to the rear. I was busy resetting the superchargers and thought they were pursuit planes which had just taken off. My co-pilot [R.C. Ragle] called my attention to the fact that they had fixed landing gear.

I turned and followed them through the pass on a course of 185 degrees hoping to get a line on the direction of the carrier. Pursuit attacked them from the rear and the front and shot down both wingman. The latter flew low on the water and may have escaped. We saw both wingman crash into the water and found ourselves at about 1500 feet, four mile off shore, flying parallel with the fourth Jap airplane identified as a Nakajima or diver bomber, probably the former.

[Herbert C. White Jr, James A. Dale & Lester M. Chancellor each eliminated a Val bomber with their P-40s.]

Having determined the course, we headed for the nearest cloud and my waist gunner, Staff Sergeant [Kenneth E.] Nelson, shot down the fourth plane. The other fixed landing gear plane which had followed the original flight, escaped into the clouds, as we did. They were fired on by Lt. [H.E.] Mitts [Navigator]. The bombardier gunner Staff Sergeant Sexton saw Sergeant Nelson’s target crash into the water in flames.

Other members saw that airplane start to spin after being hit. We proceeded out to sea on the course we had noted, observed an enemy destroyer heading out of the pass and ran into another airplane which turned out to be Capt. [Thomas F.] Mansfield’s B-17E [41-9084]. Our bombsight and [word unknown] were out, so we tacked on his wing, planing to drop our bombs when he dropped his. He took up a course of 190 degrees. Twenty five minutes later we sighted three Jap capital ships, one carrier, in a U formation, close together under a 250 foot ceiling with low visibility.

Capt. Mansfield dove at them and we pulled up into the clouds, turning 180 degrees and went back five miles, turned another 180 degrees, came back, lined up on the target and when close to it, pulled up into the clouds and let our bombs go from 1000 feet in train. The first bomb, a 1000 pounder, nearly blew out tail off, the following three exploded under water with dull thuds. All bombs were armed with one tenth second delayed fuses which should explode them 28 feet under water unless they hit the target.

Since there was no activity the following day, it is our belief we hit the flight deck of the carrier. Capt. Mansfields plane has not been heard of since and it is believed, since his radio was operating, that he was hit by anti-aircraft or destroyed by his own bomb by the low altitude from which he made his attack. Our radio was defective.

We returned to Umnak, landing at 2015 and informed Capt. Meals of the location of the target. He took off immediately with two flights, one with torpedoes and one with bombs. He led the torpedo flight, spotted a cruiser, dropped his torpedo and saw it hit and explode.

Lt. [Kenneth W.] Northamer, his wingman, dropped his torpedo, but pulled into the clouds and did not see if it hit. It was headed towards the target when he saw it hit the water and started running. The rear gunner claims he saw the cruiser explode and start to sink.

This position is approximately 90 miles on course 190 degrees magnetic from Otter Point. Our B-26s returned safely, although the flight with bombs failed to locate the enemy in the darkness and low visibility.

[One B-26 landing with a torpedo washed out its landing gear at Fort Glenn; it was said that waves had developed in the PSP and that fighters bounced 30 ft in the air].

During the time that we were attacking the fleet, Japanese Zero fighters came through Umnak Pass about 15 minutes after the other airplanes. In the dogfight which ensued, two P-40s were shot down, killing Lt. [John] Cape and injuring Lt. [Winfield E.] MacIntyre, who bailed out above the pass and was rescued later that night. [Cape had shot down a Zero]. One Zero fighter, chasing Lt. Cape, flew over and strafed the field, shooting bullets in the planes, but doing minor damage.

Anti-aircraft got either one or two Zero fighters and eyewitnesses stated that the plane, which shot down Lt. Cape, was one of these. It is believed that that was the first Jap pilot to see the landing field or be aware of its existence on Umnak. The Zero fighter out maneuvered the P-40s.

[John B. Murphy & Jacob Dixon, 11FS, Shot down a biplane which crashed a mile south of Fort Glenn].

June 5 – We took off at 0455 and at 0535 spotted what appeared to be one carrier and one cruiser 35 miles from Otter Point on a course of 330 degrees.

We reported in the clear to Umnak and Dutch Harbor. Fifteen minutes later we determined that we had seen the outline of Bogoslov Island and cancelled our previous report to both Umnak and Dutch Harbor in the clear and received a receipt for the same. Since that time a flight of B-26s and Col. Davis have both made the same mistake and attacked the island under the conditions of low visibility.

We proceeded on patrol down the north shore of Umnak, hit the fog and returned along the south shore to the base, flying 190 degrees for 265 miles and flying parallel course at 10 mile intervals, 120 miles long, back toward the shore. Our fuel transfer pump failed to operate and we headed for Cold Bay.

Thirty-five miles from Cold Bay we hit zero zero weather and were forced to return to Umnak, running out of gas on one engine while a hundred miles at sea, on the second engine while approaching for landing. Landed at 1250. The rest of the day was spent on necessary maintenance.

B-17s from Cold Bay refueled at Umnak. No provisions had been made to get them off the runway and they were parked for several hours on the same strip used for landings and takeoffs by pursuits and PBYs. Col. Foster had been requested to have some sort of hard surface or metal mesh provided for the runways. No contacts were made by the Army aircraft that day.

June 6 – Took off at 0435 and patrolled the north shore of the islands to Seguam and the south shore from Seguam and Adak Island. Returning we wee forced by fog to fly south 50 miles to good visibility, returning parallel to the island 50 miles off shore.

At 0830 an unidentified seaplane was sited flying westerly at 50 degrees 20 seconds North, 170 degrees 45 seconds West. It disappeared before further investigation could be made. We landed at 0955; took off at 1150, searched the north shore of the island and ran into a flight of PBYs, which had told us they had a position and a flight of B-17s in the southwest end of the island. We tacked onto the B-17 formation, which returned to Umnak at 1415.

Navy radio gave a position near Seguam and intelligence requested an identification of a submarine and a cruiser. We serviced and took off at 1545, identified the submarine, failed to locate the cruiser and proceeded to the Seguam area on information intercepted by radio. The area was thoroughly fogged in, but we searched a 60 miles square, starting 35 miles north of Seguam, during which time one engine failed.

We returned north of the islands and informed Dutch Harbor we were enroute to Elmendorf for repairs, since we could not take off on three engines and no facilities for repair were available at Umnak, but did return to patrol the following day. About 20 miles northwest of Dutch Harbor we sighted a Russian freighter under attack by Jap aircraft. These and four additional airplanes in flights of two turned toward us.

We flew into the clouds bordering Unalaska. At approximately 1932 we sailed out of them and I observed two Zero fighters directly overhead. I flew back into the cloud at 3500 feet, almost hit a mountain, pulled up a thousand feet, stalled at 90 miles per hour headed straight up, pulled forward over the top of the stall and my two one thousand pound bombs lifted their shackles off the bomb racks and fell through the bomb bay, damaging the bomb bay doors.

At this time we were on three engines, with two generators out and severe icing conditions, with two superchargers operating erratically; however, we stayed in the clouds for 45 minutes, headed east and loved it.

It later developed that the Russian captain of the freighter had hoisted a Jap flag when attacked. The Jap ships left to attack me and later Col. Davis came by in a B-18 and a squadron [54th Fighter Squadron] of P-38s attacked the freighter. While the P-38s were landing, ground defense crews observed four Zero fighters flying toward Umnak Pass right on the water.

We proceeded toward Elmendorf. One hundred miles from Naknek we were ordered to take our normal patrol of the island starting at 0500 in the morning. We could not reach Cold Bay before dark and our airplane was vibrating badly and the last generator gave out, so we landed at Naknek at 2320, made emergency repairs, going all night.

Attempted to take off at 0400 and finally got off at 0620 in the morning. Five minutes later one engine failed again and all generators went out. We landed at Cold Bay at 0850 with out instruments (operated electrically) out and were ordered to remain there until necessary maintenance work was completed.

At 1045 Lt. Mitts, Lt. Bero and another officer observed a single engine, land type, tapered wing retractable landing gear airplane at about 5000 feet above broken clouds off Cold Bay. Lt. Mitts informed Pursuit. They took off and sighted the airplane, which was also sighted by a PBY, which it trailed. The airplane escaped into the clouds. I have been told a cruiser scout plane was sighted over Cold Bay at about 1700.

Our plane was in flyable although without bomb bay doors, which had been sent to Elmendorf for repairs and without new generators. At 2130 that night we wee ordered to take off for Kodiak to complete the repairs the following morning. Cold Bay was fogged in from midnight until after eight in the morning. The enemy observation ship was over Cold Bay at a time when approximately fifty airplanes were on the ground. We arrived in Kodiak at 1150.

During the first three days my men worked and flew incessantly, having less than six hours total sleep. They had five hours sleep the fourth day and a half hours the fifth day. None of them complained. Every search mission was an attack mission also, with orders to attack alone while spotting a target. The airplane never had over one generator working, and had three landings on three engines, one in a blinding snowstorm and one unlighted at night.

The plane returned to patrol even though no orders had been received when in dangerous condition, without a dissenting, although it had bullet holes in the rear bulkhead, vibrated badly, and had only three dependable engines, one with an inoperative supercharger regulator.

I have never encountered a better group with more fortitude, energy and self-sacrifice. We averaged two sandwiches a day for food for the first four days, as no provisions had been made to have us fed, and they would not leave the plane.

For their devotion to duty under fire in the face of constant danger, these men deserve every bit of credit they can be given and are recommended for whatever citations, honors or medal for which they may be eligible.

R.C. Ragle, Co-pilot

H.E. Mitts, 1st Lt, Navigator

C.V. Hunter, M/Sgt, Bombardier

B.J. Grossi, T/Sgt, Radioman

W.E. Ogan, T/Sgt, Engineer

W.O.Gilbert, Gunner

K.E. Nelson, Gunner

Floris, Gunner

Sexton, Gunner

/s/ Jack S. Marks, Captain, AC, USA.

[Unfortunately, Jack Marks, Flying Fortress 41-9146 on 16 July 1942, was killed over Kiska with Harold E. Mitts, John B. Giddens, John E. Cane, Edward P. Dwelis, Hubert D.Smith, Robert G. Brown, Theodore Alleckson and Consetto Castagna. One wonders if awards were ever given to these individuals posthumously].

Webmaster Note: The chapter in Mr. Arnold’s book contains many photographs. I regretfully do not have access to those photographs.


Captain Marks and 1st Lt Mitts were killed on 17 July 1942, while flying a B-17E, which was shot down by "Rufes" (Zeros on floats) over Kiska. The plane fell into the ocean, and no bodies were recovered. B-17B s/n 38-215 crashed in heavy fog on 18 July 1942, near Cape Udak on the southwest end of Umnak Island, returning from a weather recon mission to Kiska. The plane was piloted by Captain Marvin E. Walseth. S/Sgt Nelson (who was credited with downing the "Val" on 4 June) was a crew member. All crew perished in the crash, and were buried near Nikolski village.



1. It is believed that this was the only B-17B to see combat in WW 2.

2. It is believed that the Marks Report was never sent forward from Admiral Theobalds HQ, and the recommendation for commendations for the crew for actions 2-9 June 1942 were never acted upon.

3. During the time of the action, this aircraft and crew was assigned to Navy Patrol Wing 4, not the 11th Air Force. The report was written on Pat Wing 4 letterhead.

4. The claim for one "Val" confirmed was never processed. Only the 11th Fighter Squadron was given credit for kills in the air battle in Umnak Pass on 4 June.

5. This had to have been the oldest aircraft, built in 1938, to have been used in active combat in the campaign, and may have been the mysterious "Old 70" that Garfield refers to. It certainly should have been "The Old Lady of Umnak".

6. During the period of the Marks Report, 38-215 was still painted in arctic recognition day-glo orange on wing tips, tail, rear fuselage, and engine nacelles. It also carried the Cold Weather Testing Detachment logo near the fuselage door of a polar bear standing on an ice flow, hurling a bomb. Sometime after 15 June, but before the crash on 18 July, 38-215 was repainted olive drab, and given tail number 38215.  Prior to repainting , it carried CWTD designation "1" on nose, tail and cockpit rear area. The original colors must have made it quite a target, and surely the repainting was at the request of the crew!

7. An interesting point is that this B Model carried only four .50 cal. machine guns and one .30 cal. machine gun (bombardier) for defense. The later model B-17's carried up to 13 guns!

Note: The "Forward, Conclusion, and Notes" sections were added to provide the reader with additional information not contained in the Marks Report.  The information is graciously provided by Mr. Tom Carter.

Bomb Squadrons

21st         Shemya
36th        Elmendorf Field (26 May 41), Adak; detachment: Ladd Field
73rd        Elmendorf Field (30 Mar 41); detachment: Ladd Field
77th        Elmendorf Field (25 Jan 42-?), Attu (Casco Cove)
404th      Attu (Casco Cove), Shemya
406th      Elmendorf Field, Kodiak

Returns to Master Index


11th Air Force
XI Bomber Command
XI Fighter Command
28th Composite Group
Bomb Squadrons
343 Fighter Group
Non Flying Units
Fighter Squadrons

War Stories


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