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Carl R. Thien 1943
|Pilot 1st Lt Enoch P. Burley, O-66496 (KIA) Drumright, OK
Co-Pilot 1st Lt James F. Miles, O-66508 (KIA) Midland, TX
Crew Chief T/Sgt Edward R. Bering, 682536 (KIA)
Radio Pvt John Kvaka, Jr., 13057826 (KIA) Polom, Czechoslovakia
Passenger Captain Robert C. Heller, 39th FS Dental Officer (WIA / KIA)
Passenger Cpl Virgil H. Dockery, 14078341 39th FS, Dental Assistant (KIA) Davidson County, TN
Crashed August 15, 1943
Built by Douglas at a cost of $97,497.00 and completed August 18, 1942. Constructors Number 6088. On November 28, 1942 delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as C-47-DL Skytrain serial number 41-18682. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia arriving January 9, 1943.
On January 15, 1943 assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 374th Troop Carrier Group (374th TCG), 21st Troop Carrier Squadron (21st TCS). Australian call sign VH-CCI. Nicknamed "Liliane". During January 1943 at the conclusion of the Papuan Campaign, transported U.S. Army Lt. General Robert L. Eichelberger from Port Moresby to Rockhampton Airfield.
On August 15, 1943 took off from Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt Enoch P. Burley with personnel of the 35th Fighter Command and 39th Fighter Squadron (39th FS) bound for Tsili Tsili Airfield. The weather was unlimited visibility. While in the traffic pattern to land at Tsili Tsili Airfield, the second flight including this aircraft were intercepted by Ki-43 Oscars from the 59th Sentai led by Shigeo Nongo.
During the initial attack, this C-47 was set on fire, and passenger Dockery was seriously wounded in the shoulder. During a second attack, pilot Burley was killed and co-pilot Miles attempted to crash land between trees near Tsili Tsili. During the crash, the rest of the crew and passengers were killed on impact. Also shot down was C-47 Dakota 41-18668 (MIA).
Australian troops reached the crash site about an hour later. They found Robert Heller alive, and he had sustained injuries to both legs. He was thrown clear of the wreckage when its fuel tanks exploded. He was taken to Tsili Tsili, where he was evacuated back to Port Moresby. Two hours after being admitted to the hospital there, he died.
The entire crew is officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, the crew were transported to the United States and Philippines for permanent burial.
Burley is buried at Fayetteville National Cemetery at Fayetteville, AR at plot 18, grave 71.
Miles is buried at Resthaven Memorial Park in Midland, TX.
Bering is buried at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, CA at section N, tier 4.
Kvaka is buried at Grandview Cemetery in Monessen, PA.
Dockery is buried at Manila American Cemetery at plot D, row 9, grave 188.
Heller has an unknown burial, likely in a private cemetery in his hometown in the United States.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Enoch P. Burley
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - James F. Miles
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John Kvaka, Jr.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Virgil H. Dockery
USAF Serial Number Search Results - C-47-DL Skytrain 41-18682
"18682 (MSN 6088) to USAAF Dec 05, 1942 - 5th AF, Australia Jan 15, 1943. MIA Aug 18 [sic], 1943."
No Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) was created for this aircraft crash
References to this C-47 is listed in Missing Air Crew Report 14358 (MACR 14358) related to C-47 41-18668 was lost on the same mission and contains related information
35th Fighter Group "Historical Resume" page 5 via Carlos Dannacher
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - C-47 41-18682
Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937-45 (1998) page 6
Allied Air Transport Operations SWPA in WWII Vol 2 (2000) pages 11, 51, 72, 79
FindAGrave - Enoch Paul Burley (photos, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut James E Miles (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Edward Arthur Bering (grave)
FindAGrave - PVT John Kvaka Jr. (grave photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert Frederick Heller (photo, obituary, tablets of the missing)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Virgil H. Dockery
FindAGrave - Corp Virgil Holland Dockery (photo, news, grave photo)
Allied Air Transport Operations South West Pacific Area in WWII Volume Two (2006) pages 13, 29, 51, 72, 118, 381, 547 (index C-47 41-18682)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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