Cerro Gordo County Iowa
Part of the IaGenWeb Project



Corporal Leland Dale Faktor

May 17, 1921 - April 18, 1942

Leland Dale FAKTOR was born in Plymouth, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa on May 17, 1921. He completed high school and on August 9, 1940 enlisted into the service at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. In April of 1941 he completed Airplaine Mechanic's School at Chanute Field in Illinois. He was assigned to the 95th Bomb Squadron, 17th Bomb Group, U.S. Army Air Force, at McChord Field, Washington.

Cpl FAKTOR was selected for the DOOLITTLE Mission in February of 1942.

The origins of the DOOLITTLE Mission came from President Franklin D. ROOSEVELT'S expressed desire on December 21, 1941 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating that he believed that Japan should be bombed as soon as possible to boost public morale after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Navy Captain Francis LOW, assistant Chief of Staff for Anti-submarine Warfare, stated that he thought twin-engine Army bombers could be successfully launched from an aircraft carrier. The plan was developed and the mission eventually led by Lt. Col. James "Jimmy" DOOLITTLE, a famous civilian aviator and aeronautical engineer prior to World War II.

Although the B-25 had yet to be tested in combat, on February 3, 1942 two B-25s were loaded aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet at Norfolk, Virginia. They were subsequently flown off the carrier's deck without difficulty. The proposed raid was immediately approved with the 17th Bomb Group selected to provide crew from which volunteers would be recruited. At this time the 17th not only was the first medium bomb group of the Army Air Corps, but also had the most experienced B-25 crews available.

The 24 crews that were selected picked up the B-25s, modified specifically for this mission, in Minneapolis and flew them to Eglin Field in Florida. There, beginning March 1, 1942, the crews were extensively trained for three weeks in simulated carrier deck takeoffs, low-level and night flying, low-altitude bombing, and over-water navigation.

On March 25, 1942, twenty-two B-25s took off from Eglin Field and arrived two days later at the Sacramento [California] Air Depot where they received final modifications. On March 31st, a total of sixteen B-25s were flown to NAS Alameda, California. The B-25s, their five-man crews and Army maintence personnel, totaling 71 officers and 130 enlisted men, were loaded onto the USS Hornet on April 1, 1942, and left port the following day.

  A few days later the Hornet and Task Force 18 rendezoused with Task Force 16 which was under the command of Vice Admiral William F. HALSEY, Jr. [aboard the carrier USS Enterprise] who would provide protection for the entire task force. At 07:08 on the morining of April 18th, a Japanese picket boat Dai-23 Nitto Maru sighted the task force situated about 650 nautical miles from Japan. The Dai radioed an attack warning to Japan. The carrier USS Nashville fired upon the Dai, fatally damaging the boat with only five of her eleven-man crew surviving and picked up by the Nashville.

Although the Task Force was 170 nautical miles farther from Japan than what had been planned and it was 10 hours earlier than planned, DOOLITTLE decided to launch the B-25s immediately.

Although none of the B-25 pilots - including DOOLITTLE - had never taken off from a carrier before, all 16 of planes were safely airborne between 08:20 and 09:19.


  Cpl FAKTOR was the engineer/gunner aboard the Whiskey Pete, under Lt. Robert M. GRAY and the third to take off from the USS Hornet. The B-25s flew toward Japan in groups of mostly two to four, then changed into single file formation in an attempt to avoid detection. They began arriving over Japan around noon. They bombed 10 military and industrial targets in Tokyo, two more targets in Yokohama, and one target each in Yokosuka, Magoya, Kobe and Osaka. None of the bombers were shot down although some encountered light anti-aircraft fire and a few enemy fighters over Japan.

Fifteen of the B-25s then flew southwest along the southern coast of Japan and across the East China Sea, headed for eastern China to refuel at serveral fields in the Zhejian Province. Perhaps fearing a possible threat upon the task force, Admiral HALSEY declined to send the planned signal alert to the fields in China.

The B-25 crews were burdened with unforeseen challenges with night approaching and low fuel supplies. One craft, extremely low on fuel, headed for a closer land mass located in the Soviet Union. The craft landed 40 miles beyond Vladivostok where the B-25 was confiscated and the crew interned. The crew managed to escape through Iran in 1943.

Although a tail wind was somewhat helpful, the other fourteen crews realized they still would not be able to reach their intended Chinese air bases. They would either crash or would have to bail out. DOOLITTLE safely parachuted, landing in a heap of dung in a rice paddy near Quahou, China. He thought that the mission was a horrible failure due to the loss of the aircraft and that he would be court-martialed upon his return.

The crew that safely landed and DOOLITTLE were helped by Chinese soldiers and civilians, and John BIRCH, an American missionary.

The Chinese paid dearly for their assistance to DOOLITTLE and his crew. It was estimated that the Japanese military killed around 250,000 Chinese civilians while searching for DOOLITTLE'S men.

The crews of two of the B-25s, ten men total, were unaccounted for. On August 15, 1942, the Swiss Consulate General in Shanghai reported to the U.S. that eight of the missing crew members were held prisoners of the Japanese at Police Headquarters in Shanghai. Two of the crewmen drowned after the crash landing of their aircraft when they attempt to leave the craft. On October 19, 1942, the Japanese announced that the eight crewmen had been tried and sentenced to death, but some would have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

After the war, a war crimes trial was opened in February of 1947 in Shanghai. It was revealed during this trial that SSGT William J. DIETER and SGT Donald E. FITZMAURICE were the crew members who had drowned when their craft crashed off the coast of China. The other eight men were tortured, starved, and contracted dysentery and beriberi as a result of their poor confinement conditions. Lt. William G. FARROW, pilot, and Cpl. Harold A. SPATZ, gunner, were executed by a firing squad on October 14, 1942 outside of Shanghai. The other six crewmen were moved to Nanking in April of 1943. Their health rapidly declined due to a starvation diet. Lt. Robert J. MEDER died on December 1, 1943. Lt. Chase NIELSEN, Lt. Robert L. HITE, Lt. George BARR, and Cpl. Jacob DeSHAZER survived to be freed by American Troops in August of 1945.

Coporal Leland Dale FAKTOR bailed out from Whiskey Pete when it was over Chuchow, China. He was killed when he landed and fell down a cliff, the only man of his crew who was lost and the only crewman who died during bail out.

The Globe Gazette
Mason City, Iowa
May 27, 1942


PLYMOUTH, IOWA -- Edward CINKL, uncle of Corp. Leland D. FAKTOR, has received a letter from Brig. Gen. James DOOLITTLE in connection with FAKTOR'S recent death while in the service of his country. The FAKTOR family was notified Tuesday that FAKTOR had been killed in action and buried with military honors.

Corporal FAKTOR was one of 79 men who participated with General DOOLITTLE in the air raid on Tokyo in April. General Doolittle praised FAKTOR both for his ability as a soldier and for his personal characteristics. "He was a fine boy," the letter said.

Leland FAKTOR was born May 17, 1921 in Plymouth. He was graduated from Plymouth high school in 1940 and enlisted in the army air corps on August 8, 1940.

Surviving are his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Louis FAKTOR, a sister, Juanita, and two brothers, Leroy and Marvin, all of Plymouth. A grandmother, Mrs. Anna CINKL, lived in Plymouth.

The Globe Gazette
Mason City, Iowa
March 29, 1943


Cpl. Leland Faktor Is Posthumously Cited and Decorated

Mr. and Mrs. Lou FAKTOR of Plymouth have received the purple heart and the distinguished flying cross, awarded posthumously to their son, Cpl. Leland D. FAKTOR, for extraordinary achievement in the daring raid on Tokyo with Jimmy DOOLITTLE.

FAKTOR, who is buried somewhere in China, left his home for the service in August 1940.

The following accompanied the purple heart decoration: "I have the honor to inform you that the Purple Heart decoration has been awarded, posthumously, to your son, Cpl. Leland D. FAKTOR, air corps, who made the supreme sacrifice in defense of his country."

The Citation for Distinguished Flying Cross read: "Leland D. FAKTOR, corporal, army air forces, United States Army, For extraordinary achievement while participating in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland on April 18, 1942. Corporal FAKTOR volunteered for this mission, knowing full well that the chances of survival were extremely remote, and executed his part in it with great skill and daring. This achievement reflects high credit on Corporal FAKTOR and the military service."

Cpl Leland Dale FAKTOR was awarded posthumously the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Purple Heart, and the Chinese Breast Order of Yung Hui.

Cpl FAKTOR was interred at Wan Tsuen, China. In 1949, he was reinterred at the Bohemian Cemetery, Plymouth, Iowa.

FAKTOR Hall at Chanute Air Force Base was dedicated on May 20, 1978.

Block 2 Lot 7, Bohemian Cemetery, Plymouth, Iowa

SOURCES: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doolittle_Raid

Transcription & Compilation by Sharon R. Becker, January of 2011



  • Return to "F" Obituaries Index Page

  • Return to Obituaries Index Page

  • Return to Cerro Gordo Home Page


    © Copyright 1996-
    Cerro Gordo Co. IAGenWeb Project
    All rights Reserved.