|Pilot 2nd Lt. Vernal J. Bird, O-750321 (MIA / KIA, BR) Midvale, UT
Gunner SSgt Roy F. Davis, 31068835 (MIA / KIA, BR) Peterborough, NH
MIA March 12, 1944
Built at Douglas. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-20G-20-DO Havoc serial number 42-86625. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 13th Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines R-2600-23 serial numbers 42-154416 and 42-154482. Weapon serial numbers unknown.
On March 12, 1944 took off from Nadzab Airfield No. 4 (APO 713, Unit 1) piloted by 2nd Lt. Vernal J. Bird as one of thirty-six A-20s on a low level strike against Boram Airfield west of Wewak. Over the target, this aircraft and A-20G 42-86618 lagging behind the formation while making their strafing runs. Last seen halfway down the run. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
In fact, this A-20 crashed into a forested hillside near Numoirum (Numoikum) to the southwest of Wewak.
During 2001, Wewak resident Charlie Wintawa visited this site and was given human remains and four aircraft data plates to take to U. S. authorities. Afterwards, he reported the site to a team from U. S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI) working elsewhere in East Sepik Province.
Between 2001-2016, American recovery teams have vistied this crash site on at least three occasions:
The first visit was during 2001 when a team from CILHI visited the crash site of this aircraft.
The second visit was on August 19, 2011 when a team from Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) visited the crash site and found an unexploded bomb.
The third visit was during February-March 2016 when a team from Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) undertook a recovery mission to search for the remains of gunner Davis.
Recovery of Remains
After the 2001 recovery mission, the remains and dataplates handed over by Wintawa were transported to CILHI for analysis.
On August 28, 2013 Bird was identified by the Department of Defense (DoD).
During February-March 2016, a team from Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) performed a full excavation was performed at the crash site and recovered additional remain. The recovered remains departed Papua New Guinea (PNG) during a U. S. Government repatriation ceremony at Jackson Airport on May 13, 2016.
Both crew was officially declared dead on April 5, 1946. Both are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
After the recovery of remains of Bird, he was buried on September 28, 2013 in Evergreen Cemetery in Springville, UT. Bird also has a memorial marker at Memory Grove Memorial in Salt Lake City, UT. Gunner Davis remains listed Missing In Action (MIA).
After the 2016 excavation, recovered remains were identified as Davis. On June 7, 2017 Davis was accounted for by the Department of Defense (DoD).
Elaine Jack (sister of Vernal J. Bird)
Lorna Bird Snyder (niece of Vernal J. Bird)
USAF Serial Number Search Results - A-20G-20-DO Havoc 42-86625
Missing Air Crew Report 4111 (MACR 4111)
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Vernal J. Bird
"2LT Bird's name is permanently inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. His remains have been recovered and identified"
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - Roy F. Davis
"Through the work of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the remains of Staff Sgt. Roy F. Davis were accounted for in 2017"
FindAGrave - Lieut Vernal John Bird (photo, obituary, grave photo)
2Lt Vernal J Bird (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2LT Vernal J Bird (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Roy Frederick Davis (photo, tablets of the missing)
Roy Frederick Davis (photo, memorial marker photo)
Daily Herald "Vernal John Bird" September 24, 2013
DPAA Soldier Missing From WWII Accounted For (Bird) September 25, 2013
FoxNews "World War II airman missing since 1944 to be buried with full military honors" September 28, 2013
Desert News "WWII Airman missing since 1944 buried in Utah" by Andrew Adams October 3, 2013 (photos)
USAF Hilltop Times "WWII Airman missing since 1944 buried in Utah" by Associated Press (AP) October 3, 2013
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) - two photos dated February 26, 2016 show Sgt Brian Schmied and Australian Army Cpl Rory Richardson working at straining stations at the crash site of "an A-20 Havoc... in Numoiken [sic], Papua New Guinea"
DVIDS "Recovery Operations in Papua New Guinea" March 10, 2016
"Members of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency(DPAA) and local villagers execute recovery operations in Numoiken, Papua New Guinea February 22nd through March 18th, 2016. The DPAA members are deployed as part of a recovery team in search of two crew members of an A-20 Havoc aircraft lost during World War II."
Facebook "160310-YM869-002 Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Papua New Guinea Recovery Operations"
[Video footage during recovery mission circa February-March 2016] Members of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and local villagers execute recovery operations in Numoiken, Papua New Guinea. The DPAA members are deployed as part of a recovery team in search of two crew members of an A-20 Havoc aircraft lost during World War II. DPAA deploys a team from its operation office based at Joint-Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii to provide the fullest possible accounting of missing personnel to their families and the nation
US Embassy Port Moresby "Repatriation Ceremony Honors WWII American Servicemen" May 13, 2016
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional research and analysis.
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February 14, 2020