|Pilot 2nd Lt John C. Johnston, O-789918 (MIA / KIA) NC
MIA November 30, 1942
Born in 1920. Resident of Pitt County, NC. Enlisted at Ft. Bragg on August 10, 1941.
One of sixteen P-40E Warhawks of the 7th Fighter Squadron that took off at 13:00 from 3-Mile Drome near Port Moresby, flying top cover for twelve P-40E Warhawks of the the 8th Fighter Squadron, armed with 500lbs bombs. The formation proceeded to patrol and bomb Buna village. Element leader Don Lee and wingman John Johnson were at 8,000', searching among clouds for the 8th Squadron P-40s to escort. Green Flight leader Carl Aubrey, with wingman 1/Lt Irving Voorhees.
At 14:45 hours over the Dobodura area the 8th Squadron planes radioed that they were under attack by A6M2 Zeros west of Buna village. The two pairs of escort P-40s drifted apart and were attacked from above by Zeros. This P-40 was shot down by A6M2 Zeros south of Buna. Also lost was P-40E piloted by Voorhees.
According to Captain Nelson, who was not in the dogfight, the combat was in the vicinity south of Embi Lakes, within a thirty mile radius of Dobodura Airfield.
Later, Native people brought word to Allied troops near Dobodura that they had found a crash site not far from the army camp. A few days later 8th Squadron engineer Lt. Dick Illing flew to Dobodura and visited the crash site. It consisted of a muddy crater on the bank of a stream surrounded by small debris suggesting a violent impact. Illing searched through the debris for any rubber cushions used for mounting the P-40's Allision engine. He found a .45 pistol whose number matched one that had been issued to Lt. Johnson.
At 1445 hours, over the Dobodura area, twelve A6M2 Zeros were encountered in a loose formation. Individual dog fights ensued lasting approximately twenty minutes. At the termination of the conflict, Lt Voorhees plane was not to be seen. Also lost is P-40E piloted by Voorhees. The remainder of the flight returned to their base.
Johnston was declared dead on the day of the mission and is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
ABMC and US Army enlistment records spells his name 'Johnston'.
7th Fighter Squadron Association spells his name 'Johnson'.
Protect & Avenge page 94-95
49th Fighter Group page 30
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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October 25, 2012