|Pilot 2nd Lt. Wilson C. Cater, O-789685 (KIA / BR) Jackson, MS
Co-Pilot SSgt Glenn E. Webb, 20823453 (MIA / KIA / BR) Wetumka, OK
Crew Chief MSgt Donald A. Mackey, 6846419 (KIA / BR) Chambersburg, PA
Crashed October 16, 1942
Built by Douglas. Constructor number 4710. On September 11, 1942 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as C-47-DL Skytrain serial number 41-18585. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force on October 3, 1942 and assigned to the 374th Troop Carrier Group, 8th Troop Carrier Squadron. Nicknamed "Maxine" (in quotations) painted in white on the left side of the nose. Australian call sign VH-CFL. This C-47 operated from 5 Mile Drome (Wards)near Port Moresby.
During the middle of October 1942 this C-47 flew Australian Army 2/6th Independent Company soldiers and equipment from 5 Mile Drome (Wards) to Wanigela Airfeld.
On October 16, 1942 took off from 5 Mile Drome (Wards) near Port Moresby on a mission to air drop food to and supplies to Australian Army troops along the Kokoda Trail. When this aircraft failed to return, the crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). This C-47 was officially condemned on October 18, 1942.
This C-47 crashed into a stream bed near Bodinumu west of Kagi on the Kokoda Trail. Afterwards, visited by Australian Army soldiers who recovered Cater and Mackey. During 1980, the crash site was rediscovered by local people. In November 1981 reported to PNG Museum modern history curator Bruce Hoy.
Recovery of Remains
After the crash, this C-47 was visited by Australian Army soldiers who recovered the remains of Cater and Mackey.
On April 18, 1982, CILHI investigated the wreck and exhumed the remains of one crew member, thought at the time to have been SSgt Glenn Webb, who had been buried by villagers following the crash.
On January 20, 1999 CILHI again returned to the site and did additional recovery work and declared the site closed. The remains they had recovered were identified by JPAC on September 3, 2009.
Justin Taylan adds:
"In July 2003 I visited this site. The cockpit and forward half of the fuselage is crumpled and buried by erosion. The tail section is present fairly intact. The tail serial number and traces of the original paint were present at the crash. The fuselage door was missing, maybe removed prior to take off. Among the cargo were weapons, as the remains of a BAR from the wreck Bodinumu
circling the area once and dropping supplies. On a second run,
the aircraft crashed, landing in a stream bed. Villagers went to the
crash site and attempted to help the crew, but found them all dead,
them near the stream."
During the war, the remains of Cater and Mackey were initially buried in Australia. Postwar, M/Sgt Mackey was buried in Plot D, Row 0 Grave 281 at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 2nd Lt Cater is buried at Vicksburg National Cemetery (needs to be confirmed).
S/Sgt Webb officially declared dead the day of the mission and memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery & Memorial. Officially identified on September 3, 2009, his remains were returned to the family in 2010 and will be will be buried at Wetumka Cemetery, OK on November 19, 2010.
Mark Coussan (grandson in law of 2nd Lt Wilson C. Cater):
"God Bless this website. My wife has been looking for her Grandfather her whole life. Not even her mother knew of his final destination. 2nd Lt Wilson C. Cater is her grandfather and we would like to know how we can locate his remains? Your website shows he’s buried in Vicksburg National Cemetery in Mississippi but their website doesn’t show his name listed. My wife would like to conduct a proper funeral and offer her condolences."
Christine Warnock (granddaughter of MSgt Donald A. Mackey):
"I just returned from Arlington, where my grandfather and the other two crew members were honored with a full military."
Teresa Weisinger (niece of SSgt Glenn Webb):
"I am a niece of SSgt. Glenn E. Webb who was killed in the wreck. SSgt. Webb's remains have been found and he is to be repatriated to Oklahoma next week to be interred here in Wetumka on November 19, 2010 after 68 years!"
Wayne Watts adds:
"SSgt. Webbs only surviving Sister passed away several years ago and left her quest to find her Beloved Brother to her Daughter, Teresa of Wetumka. Teresa has recently been contacted about the location of her Uncle Glenn Webb and is at this time awaiting the arrival of his remains that are currently in Hawaii. Teresa has recently found someone still in Wetumka who knew her Uncle and in doing research, found an old newspaper clipping of when her Uncle was a Boy Scout, being credited with saving the life of a young man who was severely hurt."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - C-47 41-18585
Allied Air Transport Operations South West Pacific Area in WWII Volume 1, page 347
ABMC lists Webb as "remains have been recovered and identified on September 3, 2009"
The Oklahoman "State WWII soldier's remains will rest in Va" November 16, 2011, page 2A
Thanks Rachel Phillips / JPAC, Bruce Hoy, Teresa Weisinger and Mark Coussan for additional information.
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June 2, 2020