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Brian Bennett 2001
|Pilot 2nd Lt. Lorenzo R. Gower, 20443085 (MIA / KIA) Nashville, TN
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Robert W. Wood, O-726057 317th TCG, 46th TCS (MIA / KIA) Miami, FL
Engineer Cpl Dominic P. Verdi, 13028681 (MIA / KIA) Philadelphia, PA
Radio Cpl James G. Hickman, 15074632 (MIA / KIA) Lake Milton, OH
Passenger Colonel John H. Brewer, U. S. Army Signal Corps (MIA / KIA, BR) CT
Crashed May 12, 1943
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 6022. On November 6, 1942 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as C-47-DL Skytrain serial number 41-18661. Ferried overseas via Hamilton Field with 25 hours of flight time. On December 14, 1942 departed across the Pacific to Australia.
On January 5, 1943 assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF). On January 12, 1943 assigned to the 374th Troop Carrier Group (374th TCG). On January 24, 1943 assigned to the 46th Troop Carrier Squadron (46th TCS). No known nickname or nose art. Possibly nicknamed "Chattanooga Choo Choo". Nose number 76 in yellow.
On May 12, 1943 took off from Dobodura Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt. Lorenzo R. Gower transporting freight bound for Port Moresby. Co-pilot Wood was on detached service from the 317th TCG, 46th TCS. Also aboard was an undocumented passenger Col. John Brewer boarded the flight, likely hitching a ride on this aircraft. Over the Owen Stanley Range, this C-47 was last seen going under a cloud bank. When this C-47 failed to arrive it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
In fact, this C-47 crashed in the vicinity of Myola Lakes area. The 14 ACR mentions that "the plane has been identified by pictures taken by the 21 TCS", which would indicate that the wreckage was located, in a report dated May 16, 1943. However, a memo from Headquarters. Army Air Forces dated June 26, 1946 indicates the occupants were Missing In Action and officially declared dead as of May 13, 1944.
Recovery of Remains
At the crash site, partial remains and the dog tag of Brewer were recovered and later identified as Brewer.
Brian Bennett adds:
"This aircraft has been found and partial remains and dog tag of Brewer found by a tourist and reported to the U. S. Embassy in Port Moresby. There was an initial IE sortie. I actually ended up at this site to do the aircraft identification but due to a serious helicopter problem at the time we had to abort but not before I identified the crash site as a C-47 and had photographed a nose number 76 in yellow block letters."
The entire crew was officially declared dead a year and a day later on May 13, 1944. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Gower earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Wood earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.
Verdi earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).
Hickman earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
On March 5, 1948 Brewer was buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 8, site 128.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Lorenzo R. Gower
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Robert W. Wood
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Dominic P. Verdi
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - James G. Hickman
USAF Serial Number Search Results - C-47-DL Dakota 41-18661
"18661 (MSN 6022) to USAAF Nov 06, 1942 - 5th AF, Australia Jan 05, 1943 - USA Jan 11, 1945. No further reports."
Missing Air Crew Report 15609 (MACR 15609) created retroactively circa 1945–1946
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lorenzo R. Gower date of death listed as May 13, 1944
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert W. Wood date of death listed as May 13, 1944
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Dominic P. Verdi date of death listed as May 13, 1944
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James G. Hickman date of death listed as May 13, 1944
FindAGrave - 2Lt Lorenzo Ragan Gower, Jr (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert W Wood (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Dominic P Verdi (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Corp James G Hickman (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Col John H Brewer (grave photos)
Arlington National Cemetery (ANC Explorer) - John H. Brewer
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - C-47 41-18661
Allied Air Transport Operations Volume One page 51 (list Gower as a SSgt), 71 (lists loss over Oro Bay on a combat mission), 118, 381, 400
Thanks to Brian Bennett for additional information
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