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|Pilot Major Floyd W. Rogers, O-022494 C.O. 8th BS (MIA / KIA) Chickasha, OK
Gunner Cpl Robert E. Nichols, 11016184 (MIA / KIA) Clarendon, VT
Crashed July 29, 1942
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 930. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-24 Dive Bomber serial number 41-15797. On October 21, 1941 at Savannah, GA. On January 2, 1942 assigned to Project "X" at McCellan Airfield. On January 8, 1942 disassembled then shipped overseas to 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 July 29, 1942 took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Major Floyd W. Rogers with gunner Cpl Robert E. Nichols armed with bombs on a mission to dive bomb Japanese ships off Gona on the north coast of New Guinea. This A-24 was leading the formation of eight dive bombers escorted by P-39 Airacobras from the 41st Fighter Squadron (41st FS) flying top cover plus P-39 Airacobras from the 80th Fighter Squadron (80th FS) flying close escort.
Inbound to the target, one A-24 aborted the mission leaving seven A-24s to bomb Japanese transports 20 miles north of Gona, roughly 1 1/4 miles form shore. The convoy was protected by A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai which intercepted the A-24s flying in two waves as they started their dives.
The first wave of three was led by A-24 41-15797 (this aircraft), A-24 piloted by Hill (heavily damaged and force lands at Fall River) and A-24 piloted by Raymond Wilkins (the only aircraft to return to 7 Mile Drome).
The second wave of four included A-24 41-15819, A-24 41-15766, A-24 piloted by Cassels and A-24 piloted by Parker all four were shot down. The Kotoku Maru, was hit once at the No. 5 hatch by the second wave, forcing its troops to unload and leave its cargo undelivered. The Japanese ships all return to Lae.
This A-24 went down after being hit by machine gun fire and several 20mm cannon hits from attacking A6M2 Zeros, causing the plane to catch fire and crash into the sea. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
After the mission, Roger's was credited with bombing the Kotoku Maru hitting the No. 5 hatch, but the bomb hit was likely dropped by an A-24 from the second wave.
Both crew were officially declared dead the day of the mission. Both are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Rogers earned the Silver Star for missions against Lae between April 7-13, 1942, Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Nichols earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
On November 15, 1942 30 Mile Drome was renamed "Rogers Field" in honor of Major Floyd W. Rogers.
Are you a relative of Rogers or Nichols? Contact Us
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Robert E. Nichols
USAF Serial Number Search Results - A-24-DE 41-15797
"USAAF version of SBD-3 / 15797 (3rd BG, 8th BS) shot down 20 mi N of Buna Jul 29, 1942. Pilot KIA"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - A-24 Dauntless pilot 41-15797
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Floyd W. Rogers
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert E. Nichols
FindAGrave - Maj Floyd Rogers (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Robert E Nichols (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Larry Hickey for additional information
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