Date of Birth: August 5, 1921
Place of Birth: Kansas
Father and Mother's Names: Mont J. Green and Mae (McCarthy) Green
Spouse's Name: Married, spouse's name unknown.
Date Entered Service: September 6, 1943
Service Branch: Army Air Corps
Rank/Specialty: Second Lieutenant
Service ID: 02084288
Division/Company/Unit info: Member of B-29 crew, #44-69943
Riley Connection: Born and raised in Manhattan, Kansas. His father was a very successful building contractor in Manhattan and surrounding areas. James and family lived at 1202 Houston St. Attended Kansas State College for 3 years.
Date of Death (and Age): June 30, 1945 (age 23), DNB (Death Non-Battle).
Place of Death: Killed in an accident when his B-29 collided with a ridge, 8 miles south and a little east of Guadalupe Peak, Texas.
Grave Location: Sunset Cemetery, Manhattan, KS, plot 8-22-1.
Bio: James was born and raised in Manhattan, KS. His father was a very successful building contractor in Manhattan and surrounding areas. In 1954, Mont Green’s business, Green Construction Company, was awarded the contract to build Peace Memorial Auditorium and the City Hall complex. Green Construction Company is listed on the building’s original dedication plaque as the general contractor. James and family lived at 1202 Houston St. (later records show the address as 1200 Houston St., which is directly across the street from Peace Memorial Auditorium). He attended the local schools and spent 3 years at the Kansas State College in Manhattan and soon entered the military on 9/6/1943 from Cheyenne, WY. He became a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Air Forces and served with the 233rd Base Unit Training Squadron from Davis-Monthan Army Air Base, Arizona. James had two brothers who also served in WWII, Charles and William. James was one of twelve airmen who were killed when his B-29 Superfortress #44-69943 collided with a ridge, six miles south of Guadalupe Peak, Texas, approximately twenty miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico on a training mission.
Details of Crash: The B-29 departed Davis-Monthan Field for a 3,000 mile night cross country navigation flight on the evening of June 30, 1945. The non-stop route was to take the bomber from Tucson to Mobile, Alabama and back. The crew was to fly at 11,000 feet elevation until Pecos, Texas, where they would descend 100 feet per minute until they were 1,000 above the terrain, and continue this altitude until Mobile, Alabama. This would keep them above the 8,700 foot high mountains 100 miles east of El Paso.
At 10:40pm, an American Airlines pilot reported he saw a huge fireball below him and believed it was a large aircraft that had impacted the side of a mountain. The Investigation revealed the B-29 hit the side of a mountain while at normal cruising speed. The wheels were retracted, flaps were up, cowl flaps were closed, and there was no indication of any malfunction. The 12-man crew perished. The crew was: 1st Lt's James Couch and Joseph Mennen, Flight Officers James Thomas, Ernest Wilson and Eugene Ghale, 2nd Lt's James Green and Wesley Waldron, M/Sgt Orval Lawless, Cpl. Ariste Landers and Pvt's Fayette Stanfield, Ralph Martin and Clark Moore.
Crew (233rd CCTS AAF Base Unit):
Flight Officer Eugene R. Chale
1st Lt James Harrison Couch
2nd Lt James M. Green
Sgt Aristo Landers
M/Sgt Orval R. Lawless
Corporal Ralph I. Martin
1st Lt Joseph J. Mennen Jr.
Pfc Clark J. Moore
Sgt Fayette H. Stanfield
Flight Officer James A. Thomas
2nd Lt Wesley A. Waldron
Flight Officer Ernest E. Wilson.
Cause: At the time of the accident, the aircraft was cruising at an insufficient altitude estimated between 5,000 and 5,400 feet by night. According to investigators, such flight should not be conducted by night as the crew was not familiarised with the topography of this region. No technical failure was pointed out on the aircraft. Also, the pre-flight briefing on behalf of the crew was incomplete.
NOTE: A contemporary newspaper report (see link #6) gives the date and location of the death of 2nd Lt Wesley Allen Walden as "July 1 1945, near Carlsbad, New Mexico" (sic) which is about 50 miles south west of the crash site. Guadalupe Peak, also known as Signal Peak, at approximate Coordinates: 31°53'29?N 104°51'39?W is the highest natural point in Texas, with an elevation of 8,751 feet (2,667 metres) above sea level.