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U. Nebraska c1942
Brian Bennett 2002
|Pilot 2nd Lt. Gus Kitchens, Jr., O-429957 (KIA, BR) Sasakwa, OK
Gunner Sgt. George F. Kehoe, 18007854 (KIA, BR) Dallas, TX
Crashed April 11, 1942
Gus Kitchens was a prewar All-American Oklahoma University (OU) football player. Lost on his second combat mission.
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 906. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-24 Dive Bomber serial number 41-15773 On December 21, 1941 at Savannah, GA. Between January 7, 1942 to January 29, 1942 at McCellan Airfield. On February 25 1942 assigned to Project "X" then disassembled and shipped to "Sumac" (Australia) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 3rd Bombardment Group (3rd BG), 8th Bombardment Squadron (8th BS). This aircraft had an unknown tail number (two digits). No known nose art or nickname.
On April 11, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 2nd Lt. Gus Kitchens, Jr. with gunner Sgt George F. Kehoe on a dive bombing mission against Lae Airfield. Over the target, shot down and crashed north of Lae. Both crew died in the crash. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
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 remains.
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, both crew were recovered and transported to the United States and Philippines for permanent burial.
Both crew members were officially declared dead the day of the mission. Both earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Kitchens is buried at plot 595 in Hillsdale Cemetery, OK in Purcell, Oklahoma.
Kehoe earned the Silver Star, Purple Heart, posthumously. He is buried at Manila American Cemetery at 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."
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Gus Kitchens, Jr.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - George F. Kehoe
USAF Serial Number Search Results - A-24-DE Dive Bomber 41-15773
"USAAF version of SBD-3 / 15773 lost on airstrip strike on Lae Nov 4, 1942"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - A-24 Dauntless piloted by Kitchens, Jr.
FindAGrave - Lieut Gus Kitchens, Jr (grave photos)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George F. Kehoe
FindAGrave - Sgt George Freeman Kehoe (grave Manila American Cemetery)
FindAGrave - Sgt George Freeman Kehoe (memorial marker photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis
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