|Pilot 2nd Lt. Valorie L. Pollard, O-749490 (MIA / KIA) Monterey, CA
Gunner Sgt Dominick J. Licari, 32292046 (MIA / KIA) Frankfort, NY
Crashed March 13, 1944 at 12:45pm
Built by Douglas. Assigned to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-20G-10-DO Havoc serial number 42-54082. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 8th Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. On March 4, 1944 assigned to the 312th Bombardment Group, 389th Bombardment Squadron. Coded with tail letter W. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines R-2600-23 serial numbers (left) 43-106888 and (right) 43-106922. Weapon serial numbers not noted in Missing Air Crew Report (MACR).
One of nine A-20s that took off from Gusap Airfield No. 5 led by Major Wells on a strike mission against Alexishafen Airfield No. 1 Strip. At 8:30am, the formation performed a low level strike over the target. This was pilot Pollard's first combat mission.
Over the target, A-20G 42-54083 piloted by Wells was hit by anti-aircraft fire and ditched off Sek Island. A-20G piloted by Strauss circled over the downed crew until P-47s relieved him.
The seven remaining A-20s turned back for Gusap led by 1st Lt. Kenneth Hedges. Low on fuel, the formation encountered bad
weather with limited visibility and clouds closing in. They started to climb over the Finisterre
Range southwest of Saidor, but found it impossible to cross the mountains due to the bad weather. Flying along a ridge line at 10,000' three A-20s failed to join the formation and were never seen again. In fact, this aircraft lost along with A-20G
42-54085 and A-20G 42-54117 crashed into a
mountainside in the Finisterre
Range while flying in formation in bad weather.
The next day, eight A-20s from the 389th Bomb Squadron led by 1st Lt. McKinney conducted a search
for this aircraft, taking off at 12:15. Three A-20s searched from Faita to Bogadjim, three searched along the coastline from Bogadjim to Karkar Island and two searched from Bogadjim to Finschafen and Lae. All landed by 2:20pm without results.
That afternoon, a second search by seven A-20s led by 1st Lt. Happ took off at 3:30pm searching Gusap, Dumpu, Madang, Saidor and down the coast to Finschafen and Lae. Nothing was spotted during this flight.
The 310th Bomb Wing was notified of the missing plane and checked at all airfields where this A-20 could have landed, but received no information about it. For the next week, the 312th Bomb Group continued to searched for the three missing A-20s when aircraft were available and all groups were altered to be on the lookout for the missing planes. No trace of these aircraft were ever spotted.
In 1985, Col. Strauss (312th BG C. O.)
referred to the loss of these three planes and six boys as "a damned
and felt responsible for their loss.
This A-20 crashed into a mountain side in the Finisterre Range at roughly 10,000' near Zawan (Sewan), roughly fifteen miles
south of Saidor. The crash was observed by local people in the vicinity and known to them since the war. The site was avoided and considered haunted by spirits. At some point after the crash, locals visited the site and placed the remains of the crew under the right wing.
During late December 1982, Jerry Fields of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) was assigned to build a house for Craig Spaulding and his family who would live in the area to undertake bible translation work into the local language. Villagers informed him about three aircraft wrecks in the vicinity. At the time, an elderly man was alive who remember the planes crashing.
Fields was taken by the villagers to the wreckage of two wrecks: A-20G 42-54085 and this aircraft. Locals were aware of a this aircraft wreck, but it was further away and too far to visit at the time. Fields reported them to Richard Knieriemen, an aircraft engineer with SIL who encouraged him to go back and look for their serial numbers and take photographs. He found the serial number on the tail of one of the aircraft as "254085". Knieriemen reported the finds to PNG War Museum curator Bruce Hoy who verified it as a missing aircraft and on December 2, 1982 reported the discovery to US
Army CILHI Major Johnie E. Webb.
Bruce Hoy adds:
"A-20G 42-54085 and A-20G 42-54117 were discovered, from memory, by a member of the staff of the Summer Institute of Linguistics in 1983, the person being Dick Knieriemen. It was not until 1989 when 42-54082 was located even though it was in close proximity to 42-54085."
Recovery of Remains
On July 11, 1989 a team from US
Army CILHI with PNG War Museum curator Bruce Hoy visited this aircraft and identified it as A-20G 42-54082.
On May 2, 1999 another CILHI team resurveyed the crash site and found no human remains and recommended that the site be placed in a pending category.
During May 2008 JPAC personnel surveyed the crash site and recommended it for a recovery mission. This crash site was designated PP-00382.
During March 10 to April 7, 2012 a JPAC team (mission 12-1PP) led by Kristen Baker excavated the crash site and recovered human remains. Personal effects found at the site included both of Licari's dog tags (his name was misspelled "Licabi" on the tag). Also, sunglasses, coins, zippers, a thermos, trench knife scabbard, buttons and clasps. The recovered remains and evidence were transported to the CILHI laboratory arriving on April 20, 2012 and accessioned as CIL 2012-047.
During late 2012, the Department of Defense requested a DNA sample from Licari's brother, August Licari. On July 17, 2013, U.S. military officials notified the Licari family that his remains and those of Pollard were found and identified. On July 19, 2013 Pollard's relatives were contacted.
The crew members was officially declared dead on January 27, 1946. Both are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Licari had a memorial marker at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frankfort, NY.
After the recovery of his remains, Licari's remains were flown from Hickam Field to Albany Airport then driven with an honor guard to his hometown of Frankfort, NY. Calling hours were held at V. J. Iocovozzi Funeral Home. On August 6, 2013 a funeral was held at Our Lady Queen of Apostles Church then Licari was buried with full military honors at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
At Our Lady Queen of Apostles Church, there is a World War II memorial plaque includes Licari's name. Also a stained glass window for the visitation of Mary was dedicated to Dominick Licari by his sister.
On September 19, 2013 remains representing Pollard and Licari, will be buried as a group in a single casket at Arlington National Cemetery.
August "Mort" Li Cari (brother of Licari)
Katherine Li Cari (sister of Licari)
Dave Li Cari (nephew of Licari)
Jo Marie Halsey (niece of Licari)
Missing Air Crew Report 5889
Rampage of the Roarin' 20's pages 77-79, 347, 363 (incorrectly lists tail letter as "W")
JPAC Historical Report: MACR 5889 Zawan Village, Madang Province Papua New Guinea by Poul Erik Graversen, May 2013.
ABC 10 News "Arlington burial for WWII airmen from NY, Calif.; remains recovered from Papua New Guinea" September 13, 2013
DoD New Release 651-13 "Airmen missing from WWII accounted-for" September 12, 2013
DPMO "WWII Soldier Identified" August 2, 2013 [PDF]
Iocovozzi Funeral Homes "Sgt Dominick J. Licari" July 12, 2013
Observer Dispatch "Home at last: Remains of WWII soldier arrive in Frankfort" Aug 2, 2013
Herkimer Telegram "Dominick J. Licari obituary" August 2, 2013
AP "NY WWII airman's remains arrive home decades later" by Chris Carola August 3, 2013
WKTV "Family of Sgt. Licari overwhelmed by community support" August 5, 2013
"Calling hours held for WWII Airman returned home" by Nichole Pitt August 5, 2013
WKTV "Licari honored posthumously by State Senate" August 6, 2013
WKTV "Sgt. Dominick Licari laid to rest with full military honors" by Joleen Ferris Aug 6, 2013
YNN "Funeral services held for Sergeant Licari" by Cara Thomas August 6, 2013
DPMO Recently Accounted-For "2nd Lt. Valorie L. Pollard and Sgt. Dominick J. Licari, U. S. Army Air Forces, were lost on March 13, 1944, in northeastern New Guinea. They were accounted for on July 19 and July 17"
FindAGrave - Sgt Dominick J. Licari (memorial marker, photos)
FindAGrave - Sgt Dominick J. Licari (photo)
YouTube "Sgt Dominick Licari" Patriot Guard Riders escort video by Mark Yingling
Bruce Hoy Diary 20 April, 1983
"Wednesday, received a visit from Richard Knieriemen, an aircraft engineer with the Summer Institute of Linguistics. He had offered help in locating missing aircraft, so I provided him with a letter of introduction."
Bruce Hoy Diary 19 May, 1983
"Thursday, prepared a fax to be sent to CIL-HI concerning the planned mission to PNG later in the year, and when finished, I delivered it to the American Embassy for transmission to Hawaii. The fax detailed the aircraft serial numbers for the mission in August: B-17 41-2430, B-25 42-64570, A20G 42-54082, 42-54085, 42-54117, B-24J 42-72899, A-20G 42-54089, and B-24 42-40984."
Bruce Hoy Diary 13 September 1983
"Tuesday, Drove around to W A Flick and Company, picked up the remains and brought them back to my office where I prepared the appropriate export permit listing the aircraft from which the remains had been gathered by CIL-HI: B-24D 42-40984, B-24D 42-72899, A-20G 42-54085 and B-25C 42-64570. These were later collected by CIL-HI."
Bruce Hoy Diary 11 July, 1989
"Tuesday, with our equipment loaded and then ourselves, we departed Lae in P2‑IHA at 6.47am, landing at Porimo village at 7.39am. Departed Porimo Village at 8.06am for the crash‑site, climbing up to the ridge and finally landing at 8.16am which was at an elevation of 9,850 feet. There were many villagers in "residence", of which the helicopter flew some of these back down to their village. Our camp was then established, with me selecting a reasonably flat area with a lot of mossy tree trunks around. We left for the first A‑20 crash‑site at about 9.00am and it was a relatively easy walk down to the crash-site which was reached at 9.35am. The wreckage was lying about 500 meters down the ridge from the camp area. The first positive clue that it was either a B-25 or an A‑20 was the nose gear that was located. A positive identification was achieved a short time later by the serial number on the tail, 42-54082, an A-20G belonging to the 389th Bomb Squadron, 312th Bomb Group which disappeared on 13 March 1944. A survey of the extent of the scattered wreckage was then initiated in the course of which it was noted that the left engine had its serial plate removed. The position of the wreckage indicated a high speed collision with the ridge, with the aircraft heavily fragmenting, but distribution in an orderly fashion. It would appear from the location of the wreckage that the aircraft would not have had to have climbed much further to have cleared the ridge. After carefully inspecting the wreckage of this aircraft, we returned to camp at 12.00pm arriving there at 12.34pm. After a 40 minute break for lunch, we left for the second aircraft at 12.40pm which was reached about 20 minutes later almost straight down from our camp area. This aircraft too had been badly smashed and had evidence of fire following the crash. The tail section was finally located and the aircraft was positively identified as A‑20G 42‑54085, another aircraft in the same flight as 42-54082. Nearby was the windscreen and glass and across the slope one of the wings still contained an inflated tyre. During our survey around the crash-site the team members noted several indicators which confirm previous CIL-HI activities at the site, that this was the same aircraft previously investigated by CIL-HI between August and September 1983. We completed our survey and returned to camp by 4.30pm. It was an arduous climb back to camp from both sites. Had dinner, and then sat around the camp fire talking. The helipad is situated across the ridge line affording easy access from either direction for the helicopter, with magnificent views looking back towards the Saidor Gap, and in the other direction towards the Bismarck Sea."
Heroes Come Home: The Missing WW II Airmen Story by Chuck Micheals [PDF]
Thanks to Bruce Hoy, Richard Knieriemen and Michael Claringbould for additional information
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February 4, 2018