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James P. Larronde
|Pilot Major Floyd W. Rogers, O-022494 C.O. 8th BS (MIA / KIA) AR
Gunner Cpl Robert E. Nichols, 11016184 (MIA / KIA) VT
Crashed July 29, 1942
Rogers was often referred to as "Buck Rogers" after the comic strip and movie serial hero made famous by "Buster" Crabbe. He was the C.O. of the 8th Bombardment Squadron. Previously, he earned the Silver Star for missions against Lae (April 7-13), Air Medal and Purple Heart posthumously. Nichols earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart posthumously.
Built by Douglas. Delivered to the U. S. Army at Savannah, GA on October 21, 1941. Next to McCellan Airfield during January 1942. Assigned to Project "X" on January 2, 1942. Disassembled on January 8, 1942 and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 3rd Bombardment Group, 8th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
On July 29, 1942 one of eight A-24s that took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Rogers on a mission to dive bomb Japanese ships off Gona. They were escorted by P-39 Airacobras from the 41st Fighter Squadron flying top cover, and 8th Fighter Group, 80th Fighter Squadron P-39s flying close escort.
Inbound to the target, one A-24 aborted the mission, and seven remaining A-24s proceeded to bomb Japanese transports 20 miles north of Gona, 1 1/4 miles form shore. The convoy was protected by A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai which intercepted the A-24s as they started their dives.
The A-24s dive-bombed in two waves. The first wave: 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). The second wave: 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.
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 on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. On November 15, 1942 30-Mile Drome northwest of Port Moresby was named "Rogers Field" in honor of pilot Rogers.
Are you a relative of Rogers or Nichols? Contact Us
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Floyd W. Rogers
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert E. Nichols
FindAGrave - Maj Floyd Rogers (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Corp Robert E Nichols (tablets of the missing)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - A-24 Dauntless pilot 41-15797
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Larry Hickey for additional information
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