USAAF January 1944
|Pilot 1st Lt Gale J. Chase, O-677984 (MIA / KIA) Great Falls, MT
Co-Pilot 1st Lt Frank C. Gecan, O-800346 (MIA / KIA) Clairton, PA
Radio S/Sgt Benton D. Campbell, 19087650 (MIA / KIA) Oakland, CA
Crew Chief S/Sgt Joseph C. Draper, 15332843 (MIA / KIA) Reelsville, IN
Passenger Cpl Everett F. Rogers, 12140460 (MIA / KIA) Westchester, NY
Passenger Cpl Joseph J. Ransdell, 35794488 (MIA / KIA) Lexington, KY
Crashed December 23, 1943
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 9362. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as C-47A-20-DL Dakota serial number 42-23500.
Assigned to the 375th Troop Carrier Group, 56th Troop Carrier Squadron. Nicknamed "Windy City" or possibly "Windy City Kitty". When lost, engines: R-1830-92 AAF Serial Numbers: 42-108126 and 43-99331.
On December 23, 1943 at
2:51pm took off from North Borio Airstrip (Dobodura No. 15) piloted by 1st Lt Gale J. Chase on a flight bound for 5-Mile
Drome (Wards Drome) near Port Moresby. When this C-47 failed to arrive and was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
After being reported missing, aircraft flying on the same route were told to search for the missing plane and several aircraft search the Owen Stanley Range south of Kokoda without results. On January 12, 1944 the initial search was terminated.
During early January 1944, a a swath cut into the vegetation believed to be this aircraft was photographed from the air and a map annotated with "wreckage 8° 57' S 147° 35' E" the approximate position in the uppermost
slopes of the Owen Stanley Range near the base of Mount Victoria.
A search party from U. S. Army Graves Registration (AGRS) was organized to investigate this crash site after completing their investigation of another crash site on Mount Yule. The team was led by Burton E. Tator and included SSgt Thomas O. Miller. The party included Australian W/O Blencowe from the Australia New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) supported by native carriers.
On March 1, 1944 the search team departed from Port Moresby on foot. In support of this effort, three
separate aerial reconnaissance missions by C-47s photographed the wreckage which was reported to be relatively
intact. Due to the difficult terrain the search party dispatched to survey the site
failed to reach the location.
On March 25, 1944, equipment and rations were air dropped by C-47s of the 275th TGC to the village of Menari, where the team proceeded to Mount Victoria and faced very difficult terrain and were on the wrong ridge and found the site was inaccessible from the foot of the mountain reaching a 1,000' gap that was impassible, but reached 9,000' elevation on the mountain by March 31. Unable to proceed, the team terminated the search and return to Port Moresby.
Another recovery expedition was
attempted some months later, but this also failed to reach the wreck,
lying just above 10,000' altitude. The 5th Air Force decided
to classify the human remains as non-recoverable, the case was closed,
and the relatives were informed only that their kin were "Missing
The entire crew was officially declared dead on the day of the mission. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Chase earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). He also has a memorial marker at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Great Falls, MT.
Gecan earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Air Medal.
Campbell earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Air Medal.
Draper earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). He also has a memorial marker at Croys Creek Cemetery in Reelsville, IN in the east section.
Rogers has a memorial marker on his parents grave at Union Cemetery in Bedford, NY aty plot 310.
Randell also has a memorial marker at Lexington Cemetery in Lexington, KY.
Reportedly, the crash site of this C-47 remains near the summit of Mt Victoria. If true, the six crew are still awaiting recovery
(it is near the crash site of B-24D
"Weezie" 42-41081 on Mount Thumb.
During 2003, Keith Hopper and Justin Taylan met with the Ambassador Robert Fitts of the US Embassy in Port Moresby to discuss the case of this C-47. Today, the case of "Windy City" remains the quintessential
example of a file which needs re-opening.
Robert Valentine Gecan (nephew of Gecan)
"1st Lt Frank C. Gecan was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross months before the crash. One of his brothers Valentine (Val) Gecan past away a few years ago was a marine in the Pacific theater at the same time. I have heard many great stories about my uncle Frank. I would like to understand better why a mission has not been formed to get these men."
this C-47 was nicknamed "Windy City Kitty".
USAF Serial Number Search Results - C-47A-20-DL Dakota 42-23500
"23500 (MSN 9362, 375th TCG, 56th TCS, "Windy City") crashed into Owen Stanley Mountains, New Guinea Dec 23, 1943. MACR 2081. 6 killed."
Missing Air Crew Report 2081 (MACR 2081) created January 14, 1944
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - C-47 Dakota 42-23500
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Gale J. Chase
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank C. Gecan
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Benton D. Campbell
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joseph C. Draper
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Everett F. Rogers
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joseph J. Ransdell
FindAGrave - 1Lt Gale J Chase (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Gale J Chase (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Frank C Gecan (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Benton D Campbell (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Joseph Carl Draper (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Joseph Carl Draper (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Everett F Rogers (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Everett F Rogers (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Joseph Jackson Ransdell (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - CPL Joseph Jackson Ransdell (memorial marker photo)
Thanks to Brian Bennett and Keith Hopper for additional information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
February 14, 2020
8 57' S
147 35' E