|Pilot 2nd Lt. Thomas E. Freeman, O-672596 (MIA / KIA, BR) Wichita County, TX
Gunner Cpl. Ralph A. McKendrick, 12198868 (MIA / KIA, BR) PA
Crashed April 5, 1944 at 1:30pm
Built at Douglas. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-20G-30 Havoc serial number 43-9469. Disassembled and shipped across the Pacific to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 417th Bombardment Group. On March 20, 1944 assigned to the 312th Bombardment Group, 387th Bombardment Squadron. Tail letter unknown. No known nose art or nickname. When lost, engines R-2600-23 serial numbers (right) 43-103633 (left) 43-103610.
On April 5, 1944 took off from Gusap Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt. Thomas E. Freeman on a strike mission against Hollandia. Returning, this A-20 was
observed to fall back from the formation, experiencing trouble with both engines, possibly fuel problems.
Another A-20 piloted by 1st Lt. Glen D. Benskin flew to accompany it, and observed no obvious combat damage, only puffs of vapor from both engines, possibly from Freeman trying to switch fuel selectors. Unexpectedly, the A-20 nosed over and crash into the jungle, near the Clay River, short of a
clearing and exploded on impact at approximately 1:30pm roughly 175 miles from Gusap, in the Ruin Mountain area. The crash was observed by Benskin who noted: "After the ship hit I couldn't even find broken treetops, the aircraft simply disappeared without a trace." When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
After the crash, two RAAF Boomerangs searched for this crash without results.
During 1967, the crash site as located by an Australian Patrol officer (kiap) including bone fragments and the dog tag of Ralph McKendrick. At the time, the serial number or type of aircraft was not identified. The tail section is broken off with the serial number 39469" visible and a white diamond motif of the 387th Bombardment Squadron.
Recovery of Remains
On November 12, 1967 a U. S. Army team visited the crash site and recovered the remains of the crew.
Both crew members were officially declared dead the day of the mission. McKendrick earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. Both are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
After the recovery of remains, both crew were buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in a group burial at section 81 site 349.
Note, U. S. Army records also spell the gunner's surname as both McKendrick and Mc Kendrick.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Thomas E. Freeman
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records -
Ralph A. Mc Kendrick
USAF Serial Number Search Results - A-20G-30-DO Havoc 43-9469
"9469 in accident Apr 5, 1944"
Missing Air Crew Report
468 (MACR 468)
Rampage of the Roarin' 20's pages 93-94, 348, 358
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Thomas E. Freeman "remains were recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ralph A. McKendrick "remains were recovered"
FindAGrave - 2LT Thomas Elton Freeman (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2LT Thomas Elton Freeman (grave photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT Ralph Arthur McKendrick (photo, tablets of the missing)
SSGT Ralph Arthur McKendrick (photo, grave photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - A-20G Havoc 43-9469
Letter Embassy of the United States 6 June 1967 "Possible remains of Army Air Corps World War II crew member Ralph A. McKendrick, 12198868".
Thanks to Bruce Hoy and Brian Bennett for additional information
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March 31, 2019