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|Pilot 1st Lt. Harold R. Prince, O-888775 (MIA / KIA) Rochester, NY
Gunner TSgt Ashford H. Cardwell, 38329361 (MIA / KIA) Shreveport, LA
Engineer TSgt Anthony Zulkus, 11009240 (survived) Worcester County, MA
Passenger 2nd Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan, Jr., O-2036172 5th AF, HQ ADVON (MIA / KIA) Scranton, PA
Crashed May 14, 1944
Built by Douglas. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-20G-20-DO Havoc serial number 42-86768. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 3rd Bombardment Group (3rd BG), 13th Bombardment Squadron (13th BG). No known nose art or nickname. Tail letter unknown.
On April 5, 1944 took off from Nadzab Airfield piloted by Prokopovitz on a bombing mission against Hollandia.
On April 16, 1944 "Black Sunday" took off from Nadzab Airfield on a low level strike mission against Hollandia. Returning, encountered a severe weather front and belly landed at Saidor Airfield. While sliding across the runway, this aircraft struck P-47D "Dirty Old Man". Damaged, ground crews had extricate the pilot from the twisted fuselage. Afterwards, the mission was dubbed "Black Sunday" for the number of aircraft lost.
Damaged, this aircraft was officially written off but was repaired and assigned to the 90th Bombardment Squadron (90th BS) at Nadzab No. 4 Airfield (APO 713, Unit 1). When lost, engines R-2600-23 serial numbers 42-175009 and 42-175164. Weapon serial numbers not noted in Missing Air Crew Report 4847 (MACR 4847).
On May 14, 1944 at 5:05pm took off from Momote Airfield on Los Negros Island piloted by 1st Lt. Harold R. Prince on an administrative flight bound for Nadzab Airfield. The crew included gunner TSgt Ashford H. Cardwell and engineer TSgt Anthony Zulkus. Also aboard was passenger 2nd Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan, Jr. assigned to 5th Air Force, Headquarters Advanced Echelon (ADVON) as a courier. The weather was reported as good on the flight route.
Before reaching the north coast of New Guinea, this A-20 attempted to ditch in the sea but both engines failed roughly 30' altitude and nosed over impacting hard. After the crash, Prince, Cardwell and Finnegan never surfaced and went down with the aircraft. When this aircraft failed to arrive it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Afterwards, the search for this aircraft was led by Major Kenneth E. Rosebush. On May 15, 1944 a pair of A-20s piloted by Captain Dean and Major Kenneth E. Rosebush took off on a search mission but failed to locate any trace of the plane or missing crew members.
Fate of the Crew
Sole survivor Zulkus survived the crash and floated at sea.
Zulkus was found by a barge and transported to Saidor and later returned to duty.
The three missing crew: Prince, Cardwell and Finnegan were officially declared dead the day of the mission. All three are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. Since the flight was deemed to be a non-combat flight, none of the crew earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.
Prince earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters.
Cardwell Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart for previously being wounded by a bullet in his arm. Cardwell also has a memorial marker at Greenwood Cemetery in Shreveport, LA. The epitaph reads: "T/Sgt Ashford H. Cardwell Mar 30,1920 May 14, 1944 Lost at sea - South Pacific member of U.S. Army Flying Forces [U.S. Air Force]."
Finnegan had a memorial mass on July 21, 1944 at the University of Scranton by the student counselor. He is memorialized on his family grave at Saint Catherine's Cemetery in Moscow, PA in section S-4. The epitaph reads: "Lt. Ambrose J. Jr. USAF 1914–1944 Lost in S. W. Pacific Area."
Zulkus passed away in August 1963. He has an unknown burial likely in his hometown in the United States.
Helen (née Babin) Cardwell (wife Cardwell)
Tom Cardwell (father Cardwell)
Ambrose J. Finnegan (father Finnegan died May 27, 1957 at age 73)
Geraldine Blewitt Finnegan (mother died June 24, 1949 at age 63)
John A. Finnegan (brother Finnegan died March 31, 1973)
Joseph R. Biden Jr. (nephew of Finnegan)
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Harold R. Prince
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Ashford H. Cardwell
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Anthony Zulkus
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Ambrose J. Finnegan, Jr.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - A-20G-20-DO Havoc 42-86768
"86768 (3rd BG) lost May 15, 1944, SW Pacific."
Missing Air Crew Report 4847 (MACR 4847) created May 17, 1944
Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) - Harold R. Prince
Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) - Ashford H. Cardwell
Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) - Ambrose J. Finnegan, Jr.
Diary of Lt. Clifford Taylor, April 16, 1944 "The only report on the 13th was that Dower had crash landed at an emergency strip north of Saidor."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harold R. Prince
FindAGrave - 1Lt Harold R Prince (news, tablets of the missing photo)
Democrat and Chronicle "First Lt. H. R. Prince Killed In Action" July 14, 1944 page 15
"First Lt. Harold R. Prince, 23, was killed in action May 14, returning from a personal mission for Gen. MacArthur, according to a letter in the General has written to the officer's parents, Mr. and Mrs. William S. Carr of Santa Monica, Calif., formally of Rochester."
NARA U.S. WWII Hospital Admission Card Files - AShford H. Cardwell May 24, 1944 injury, non-battle [sic May 14, 1944] length of service: 1 year, 7 months.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ashford H. Cardwell
FindAGrave - TSgt Ashford H Cardwell (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Ashford H Cardwell (obituary, memorial marker photo)
News "Promoted S/Sgt Ashford H. Cardwell" 1944
"Since going overseas nine months ago he has been shot down twice and received a bullet wound in his arm. He holds the Purple Heart award. Sergeant Cardwell is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Cardwell, 2904 Judson Street."
News "Shreveport Air Gunner In Missing" 1944
News "Air Crash Victim Shreveporter Previously Reported Missing In S. Pacific" 1944
The Shreveport Journal "Sgt. Cardwell Is Missing" May 25, 1944 page 5
The Shreveport Journal "Killed In Crash - T.Sgt Ashford H. Cardwell" June 27, 1944 page 5
Bossier Banner-Progress "Killed and Missing From Bossier and Caddo Nearly 400" January 11, 1945 page 1-4
"T-Sgt Ashford H. Cardwell, Shreveport, killed in plane crash, Pacific."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ambrose J. Finnegan Jr.
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency WWII Report for Pennsylvania (Unaccounted For) - Finnegan, Ambrose J. "not recoverable" [PDF]
FindAGrave - 2Lt Ambrose Joseph Finnegan, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Ambrose J Finnegan, Jr (memorial marker photo)
The Tribune "Pals 17 Years, Three Hope to Fly Together" January 20, 1942 page 3
"Three neighborhood pals, two of them brothers, signed up for service in the Army Air Corps yesterday and tomorrow will leave for Wilkes-Barre for formal induction. Later, they will be sent to Kessler Field, Miss.
The brothers are Ambrose Finnegan Jr., 27, and John Finnegan, 21, sons of Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose Finnegan, 2446 North Washington Avenue."
The Tribune "2 Local Brothers With MacArthur's Air Force" October 21, 1942 page 3
"Two Scranton boys have gone into action with General Douglas MacArthur's Air Forces for the relief of Guadalcanal.
The Tribune "6 Regional Soldiers Reported Casualties" May 24, 1944
"Lt. Ambrose J, Finnegan Jr. Listed Missing Between Admiralty Islands and New Guinea. Six more regional servicemen have been reported as casualties in the present world conflict according to information received by their families from the War Department. The casualties follow: Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose J. Finnegan, reported by the adjutant general's department last night as missing in action since May 14, last, in the Pacific area."
The Tribune "4 Regional Men Dead; 5 Wounded, 5 Missing" June 26, 1944 page 3
"Learn Lt. Finnegan Lost Life While on Duty in Pacific Area... Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose J. Finnegan, reported missing in action since May 14 in the Pacific area is officially reported dead, according to a telegram received by his parents yesterday from the War Department."
The Tribune "Gen. MacArthur Sends Sympathy to Father Of Late Lt. Finnegan" July 11, 1944 page 3
"Evidence that the supreme sacrifice paid by by Second Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan Jr. did not go unnoticed was given in a recent letter received by the Lieutenant's father, Ambrose J. Finnegan Sr., 2446 North Washington Ave. Lieutenant Finnegan was killed in the South Pacific area recently.
The letter, written by Gen. Douglas MacArthur from General Headquarters in the Southwest Pacific Area, follows:
'Dear Mr. Finnegan: In th death of your son, Second Lieutenant ambrose J. Finnegan Jr., while in service of his country, you have my profound sympathy. Your consolation may be that he died in the uniform of our beloved country, serving in a crusade from which a better world for all will come. Very faithfully, Douglas MacArthur."
The Tribune "Hold Memorial Mass Today for Lt. Finnegan" July 21, 1944 page 9
"A memorial mass in the form of a dialogue mass will be celebrated this morning at the University of Scranton by the student counselor for the repose of the soul of 2nd Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan Jr., a graduate of St. Thomas High School, class of 1933. Th entire student body will be present and will assist at the dialogue mass."
Black Sunday (2000) by Michael Claringbould page 73 (force landing Saidor), 96 (42-86768)
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Justin Taylan for additional research and analysis
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