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  C-47-DL "Flying Dutchman" Serial Number 41-18564 Nose 564
USAAF
5th AF
374th TCG
33rd TCS

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Justin Taylan 2000

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Pilot  2/Lt. George W. Vandervort, O-662204 (MIA / KIA 11-10-42 / BNR) OH
Co-Pilot
 S/Sgt John J. Gerrity (did not fly mission)
Engineer  T/Sgt Stephen J. Pitch, 33118721 (KIA)
Radio Sgt George B. Kershner, 35267797 (survived) Dayton, OH
Chaplain  Capt "Ted" Theodore W. Barron, O-31196 (KIA, BR)
Passenger  Sgt James M. Verstay, 20633547 (KIA 11-10-42 / BR)
Passenger  Pvt Vernon R. Moak, 39304877 (KIA 11-10-42 / BR) AR
Passenger  Pvt Charles W. Raddatz, 37139035 (KIA 11-10-42 / BR) NB
Passenger  Pvt Charles I. Stokes, 37139199 (KIA 11-10-42 / BR)
Passenger  Pvt Margarito Padilla, 38070304 (KIA 11/10/42 / BR) NM
Passenger  Pvt Carlos D. Failin (KIA) MI
Passenger  Pfc Gerald M. Grove, 37111466 (MIA / KIA 11-17-42, drowned, BNR) Iowa
Passenger  PFC Frank A. Thomas, Jr., 37139278 (survived) Tilden, NE
Passenger  PVT Duane R. Butler, 36154720 (survived) MI
Passenger  Sgt Edward K. Holleman, 36155513 (survived) Hudsonville, MI
Passenger  Pvt Floyd L. August, 37139105 (survived) Dorchester, NE)
Passenger  Pvt John W. Mobley, 39085305 (survived) Oakland, CA
Passenger  Tec5 Lawrence E. Peterson, 36308327 (KIA 12-29-42, BR)
Passenger  Pvt John J. Bellus, 27139313 (KIA at crashsite)
Passenger Pfc Malvern E. Patton, 39382982 (KIA at crashsite) Dayton, WA
Passenger  Pvt Theodore Romero, 39083083 (KIA at crashsite)
Passenger  Pfc William L. Smith, 38083372 (KIA at crashsite)
Passenger  Pvt Martin J. Brandon, 20636075 (KIA at crashsite)
Passenger  Pvt Antonio T. Montes, 38070252 (KIA at crashsite)

Crashed  November 10, 1942 at 1:30pm

Aircraft History
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 4689. Assigned to the U.S. Army.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 374th Troop Carrier Group, 33rd Troop Carrier Squadron. Nicknamed "Flying Dutchman" with the nose art of a Dutch clog shoe with wings. Australian call sign VH-CCU. Nose number (buzz number) 564. When lost, this C-47 was the 33rd Troop Carrier Squadron's first wartime loss.

Mission History
Took off from 5-Mile Drome (Wards Drome) near Port Moresby to deliver supplies to Pongani Airfield, plus troops from the 32nd Infantry Division, 126th Infantry Regiment. The aircraft became caught in a severe downdraft, and crashed into Mount Obree at 9,000' into a flat area.

Fate of the Crew
Of the twenty-three aboard, seventeen survived the crash. Many had serious injuries and burn, and died afterwards waiting for help. Others were not injured at all.

The most health survivors departed to try to locate help and left the others at the crash site. The first group of four to depart included: Pvt. Carlos Failing, Pvt. Gerald Grove (drown on November 17), Pvt. Duane Butler and Pfc Frank A. Thomas.

Two days later, a second group departed including Pvt. Floyd August, Pvt. John Mobley, Sgt George B. Kershner and Pvt. Ed Hollerman. They followed a stream bed, and eventually found an outpost. By the time an Australian patrol reached the crash site, those left behind had all died.

Diary on the Door
A chilling legacy of their ordeal was recorded on the toilet door diary in pencil, starting the day of the crash on November 10, 1942. Notes were made about the weather, their optimism, the deaths of crew members and home are recorded. The last entry was written on January 1, 1943.

Wreckage
On March 8, 1961, this crash site was rediscovered during air searches for a missing Piaggio. It was unclear from records held by the Papua New Guinea administration whether the transport had been discovered earlier, so Cadet patrol officer (kiap) J. Absolom organized a visit to the site. After a difficult three day trek requiring a path to be cut in the jungle, the wreckage was located. During his visit, the door diary was discovered and transported to Port Moresby..

The door diary was displayed at the PNG Museum until the 1980s, along with a piece of the nose art. Later, this door was placed on permanent loan to the USAF Museum. In exchange, a replica of the door was donated to the PNG Museum as a replacement.

Memorials
Vandervort is listed as Missing In Action and was officially declared dead on November 10, 1942. He is listed on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Postwar, the crew were transported to the United States for permanent burial.
Buried at at Rock Island National Cemetery are Verstay at plot E, 0, 10 and Stokes at plot E-10.

Buried at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) are Barron, Bellus and Peterson at P-929.

Moak is buried at Oakland Memorial Cemetery in Clarksville, AR.
Raddatz is buried at Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, NB.
Padilla is buried at Santa Fe National Cemetery in Santa Fe, NM.

Survivors
Postwar, George Kershner lived in Australia and was alive into the 2000's.

Relatives
Jackie (Thomas) Blom
"PFC Frank A. Thomas, Jr. was my grandfather. He was also the last of the survivors of this crash to die, in 1998.".

References
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - C-47 Dakota 41-18564
Forty of the Fifth by Michael Claringbould "Agony of the Flying Dutchman"
Thanks to Bob Piper, Bruce Hoy and April Thompson for additional information
FindAGrave - James N. Verstay
FindAGrave - Vernon R. Moak
FindAGrave - Charles W. Raddatz
FindAGrave - Charles I. Stokes

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Last Updated
April 30, 2014

 

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