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|Pilot 2nd Lt. Grant E. Peterson, O-759762 312th BG, 389th BS (MIA / KIA) Delta. CO
Gunner Cpl Chester D. West, 14136652 (MIA / KIA) Memphis, TN
Radio Pvt George M. Vafiadi, 36874988 7th Airdrome Squadron (MIA / KIA) Houghton, MI
Crashed November 10, 1944 at 9:30am
Peterson was a member of the 312th Bombardment Group, 389th Bombardment Squadron, on a six week assignment with the FEAF - CRTC School (Far East Air Force - Combat Replacement Training Center) based at Nadzab Airfield. Vafiadi was a member of the7th Airdrome Squadron (7th ADS).
Built at Douglas. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-20G-40-DO Havoc serial number 43-21428. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), Far East Air Force - Combat Replacement Training Center (FEAF CRTC), 360th Service Group (360th SrG), 7th Airdrome Squadron (7th ADS) at Nadzab No. 4 Airfield (APO 713-1). No known nickname or nose art.
When lost, engines R-2600-23 serial numbers 43-105803 and 43-105808. Armed with .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers R. S. 960707, L. S. 962710, U. R. N. 960157, U. L. N. 113405, L. L. N. 962679, L. R. N. 1149801 and top turret 900890 and 563811.
On November 10, 1944 one of six A-20s took off from Nadzab No. 4 Airfield at 7:50am piloted by Peterson on a low level strafing mission armed with 300 pound bombs on a mission against Wewak. The weather was ceiling and visibility unlimited (CAVU).
Over the target at 9:20am, this A-20 was last seen making a low level attack over Boram Airfield and was hit by anti-aircraft fire, burst into flames from the bomb bay and crashed roughly 100 yards from the western edge of the runway. The crash was observed by another A-20 in the formation piloted by Captain John M. Downing with top turret gunner Cpl Howell J. Foster.
Two of the crew were seen to bail out before the crash. One chute opened and appeared to land safely. The other was not wearing one, or his chute failed to deploy.
The entire crew was declared dead on February 26, 1946. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. West has a memorial marker at Maplewood Cemetery in Ripley, TN.
Missing Air Crew Report 14944 (MACR 14944)
History 7th Airdrome Squadron - November 1944, page 2
"On November 10 1944 Pvt George M Vafiadi, 36874988, while acting as a crew member on a type A-20 aircraft, which was shot down by enemy action over the target area at Wewak was listed as missing. First reports indicated the planes exploding and bursting into flames thus listing occupants as killed in action. However, later information brought out that two men were seen parachuting from the escape hatch. -- Pvt Vafiadi was then listed as missing in action."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Grant E. Peterson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Chester D. West
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George M. Vafiadi
FindAGrave - 2Lt Grant E Peterson (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Corp Chester D West (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Chester Davis West (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Pvt George M Vafiadi (tablets of the missing)
National Archives of Australia (NAA) - Missing US Aircraft - Bostons, page 17
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - A-20G Havoc 43-21428
Rampage of the Roarin' 20's pages 350
Wreaking Havoc page 116-117
"Grant Peterson, my tent mate, was still at Nadzab instructing at the Combat Replacement Training Center as we anticipated the move to Leyte. He was expected to return to the 389th by the end of November, but it did not work out that way. Pete was shot down on November 10 while leading a group of A-20 trainees over the airstrip at Wewak. Wewak had once been a very hot target and there were still thousands of Japanese Eighteenth Army troops in the area. The airstrips had been more or less neutralized in the spring, before the Hollandia landings, so the CRTC used Wewak as a target for realistic training missions. The danger from ground fire was considered minimal, but on more than one occasion the dormant guns came to life and surprised the attackers.
Later, one of the trainees who had been with Pete the day he went down told us the story of his fatal flight. After making a low-level sweep over one of the airstrips, Pete was not satisfied with his students' performance. He instructed them to watch while he made a second run to demonstrate how it should be done. The Japanese antiaircraft gunners were waiting: a 75-mm gun at the end of the airstrip barked once and Pete crashed. It was a rash demonstration: a single plane making a run after the ground gunners had been alerted was a sitting duck. I suppose Pete had led so many missions there that it seemed safe enough. His body was reportedly found at Wewak after the war."
Thanks for Edward Rogers for additional information
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