|Pilot 2nd Lt. Gus Kitchens, Jr., O-429957 (KIA, BR) Sasakwa, OK
Gunner Sgt. George F. Kehoe, 18007854 (KIA, BR) TX
Crashed April 11, 1942
Kitchens was a prewar All-American Oklahoma University football player. Lost on his second combat mission. Both crew members were awarded the silver star and purple heart.
Built by Douglas. On December 21, 1941 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-24 Dive Bomber serial number 41-15773 at Savannah, GA. During January 7-29, 1942 based at McCellan Airfield. On February 25 1942 to to "X" and disassembled and shipped to "Sumac" (Australia) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 8th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
On April 11, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby on a dive bombing mission over Lae. Over the target, shot down and crashed north of Lae. Both crew died in the crash.
During September 1943, after the Allied liberation of Lae, the wreckage of this aircraft was discovered and the remains of both crew were recovered. In 1976, the wreckage was rediscovered when a new logging road was cut in the area. Since then, most of the wreckage was scrapped. Today, only the engine and pieces of wreckage remain.
Both crew were officially declared dead the day of the mission. Postwar, both were transported to the United States and Philippines for final burial. Kitchens is buried at
plot 595 in Hillsdale Cemetery, OK in Purcell, Oklahoma. Kehoe was permanently buried at Manila American Cemetery Plot D Row 6 Grave 17. He also has a memorial marker in Calvary Hill Cemetery in Dallas, TX at section D.
Roger D. McClure (cousin of Kitchens) adds:
"I just recently discovered this website and have found a picture of my first cousin 2nd Lt. Gus Kitchens, KIA piloting A-24 41-15773. There are four first cousins left."
Tamara Kennedy (niece of Kitchens) adds:
"Gus Kitchens was my uncle, older brother to my dad. This was a heartbreaking experience for my grandmother. Gus was engaged to be married at the time of his death and he was missing for years before he was returned to Purcell, OK, so she had the hope that he was still alive for a long time."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - A-24 Dauntless piloted by Kitchens, Jr.
FindAGrave - Lieut Gus Kitchens, Jr (grave photo)
Sgt George F Kehoe (grave photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis
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February 14, 2020