|Pilot 1st Lt George O. Burgess, O-665520 (rescued) Flint, MI
Crashed October 22, 1943 at 12:30
Built by Republic at Farmingdale, NY. Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 348th Fighter Group, 342nd Fighter Squadron. Assigned to pilot Neel Kearby and nicknamed "Sunshine". When lost, engine P&W R2800-21 serial number 42-123218. Weapon serial numbers not noted.
Took off from Tsili-Tsili Airfield at 8:40am on a mission to escort B-25s over Wewak, arriving at 10:15am at 20,000'. Weather was scattered clouds and overcast at 10,000'. Last seen by Captain flight leader William D. Dunham, as their flight engaged Ki-61 Tonys at 17,00' off southwest coast of Kairiru Island at 10:20am. Burgess left the target but became lost in bad weather until he ran short of fuel. Bailed out over the mouth of the Fly River.
After the mission, planes of the 342nd FS searched the Ramu Valley, Markham Valley, Yule Island and Fly River area for four successive days. A PBY Catalina also searched unsuccessfully.
Fate of the Pilot
In fact, Burgess was immediately picked up by friendly natives and guided over two days to an Australian patrol that took him to ANGAU station at Kikori. On October 27, 1943, a PBY Catalina from Port Moresby arrived to rescue Burgess and was returned to Port Moresby. He returned to duty without hospitalization.
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January 1, 2014