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46th TCS c1943
Justin Taylan 2004
|Pilot 1st Lt. James L. Nollkamper (survived) Gregory, SD
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Hector F. Unger Jr. (survived) Hood River County, OR
Radio Sgt Ben A. Korzinski, 13131115 (survived) Pittsburgh, PA
Crew Chief Sgt Foster Jowers (survived) Nueces County, TX
Force Landed December 1, 1943
Built by Douglas Aircraft Company. Constructors Number 9521. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as C-47A-30-DL Skytrain serial number 42-23659. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
On June 21, 1942 assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 317th Troop Carrier Group (317th TCG), 46th Troop Carrier Squadron (46th TCS) as a replacement aircraft. Australian call sign VH-CGX. Nose number 85. Nicknamed "The Amazon" with the nose art of a reclining nude woman painted on the left side of the nose. This C-47 flew cargo missions during June to September 1943.
On December 1, 1943 took off from Garbutt Field near Townsville on a flight bound for Port Moresby. To the west of the destination, both engines failed at 4,000' and the aircraft force landed in swamp near Galley Reach and the Vanapa River. The entire crew survived the crash landing unhurt.
Fates of the Crew
The entire crew survived the crash landing unhurt and waited overnight at the C-47 for rescue.
On December 2, 1943 a rescue party led by medical officer Flt Lt John G. Shelton departed from Port Moresby aboard an Australian launch from 45 OBU Marine Section. The rescue party proceeded up the Vanapa River then traveled through high kunai grass before eventually locating the crew and led them back to the launch and transported them to Port Moresby.
The wreckage of this C-47 remains in situ in a mangrove swamp area near the Vanapa River. The fuselage door was missing, possibly removed during the war.
Justin Taylan adds:
"I learned about this wreck from John Douglas. Its was one of the most impressive C-47 wrecks left in situ. The area where the wreck is located is so remote and difficult, its hard to believe how the crew were able to be rescued, I am sure there is more to the story. Even getting there today we had a very difficult walk and journey down rivers to finally reach it. The instrument panel was made of plywood, not metal."
Until the late 2000's the aircraft remained in excellent condition. During 2010-2015, local people removed or damaged the cockpit instruments, radios and removed both engine cowls. Likely, the aluminum pieces were removed for scrap metal. Sometime between April-September 2015, the nose section was removed from the crash site and transported to a nearby fishing camp for unknown reasons.
Afterwards, Korzinski was promoted to Staff Sergent. On September 25, 1944 Missing In Action (MIA) as radio operator aboard C-47A Dakota 42-93499 and officially declared dead on April 3, 1946. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. Korzinski also has a memorial marker at Arlington National Cemetery in memorial section H.
Nollkamper served in World War II then continued in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and served in the Korea War and Vietnam War and retired with the rank of Colonel. He passed away on April 17, 1994 and is buried at Fort Worden Military Cemetery in Port Townsend, WA.
Unger served in World War II then continued in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and retired with the rank of Major. He passed away December 19, 2003 at age 89. On January 6, 2004 buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 69, site 3592.
Foster Jowers earned the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters during World War II. He died on April 11, 1972 after a fall from a railroad trestle on a island in Town Lake in Austin, TX. He never married and had no children. He is buried at Resthaven Cemetery in Brady, TX at plot D grave 65.
Are you a relative of this crew? Contact Us
Egan Fowler (relative of Foster Jowers)
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - James L. Nollkamper
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Hector F. Unger Jr.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Ben A. Korzinski
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Foster H. Jowers
USAF Serial Number Search Results - C-47A-30-DL 42-23659
"23659 (MSN 9521) delivered May 13, 1943 - 5th AF Brisbane "VHCGX" "The Amazon" Jun 19, 1943 - Manila Crashed 20 mi short of Jackson Strip, Port Moresby, PNG. Wreckage is still there."
Air Sea Rescues - Moresby Area extracts from No. 74 wing file 908/1/P1 taken a Port Moresby on 4th December 1944 page 2 lists the crew as Lt. Knolikamper (sic), Lt. Unger, Sgt Jowers, Sgt Korynski [sic]
Marine Section - Port Moresby Area notes on conversation with O. C. F/O J. Wilcox and FSgt A. Smelt at Moresby on December 7, 1944, pages 1-2
"One of the hardest rescues they did was the Vanapa River one, when four members of a Douglas aircraft which had been forced down were located."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - C-47 Dakota 42-23659
Allied Air Transport Operations South West Pacific Area in WWII Volume 2, page 15. 144, 407-411
FindAGrave - James L Nollkamper (photo, grave photo)
Arlington National Cemetery (ANC Explorer) - Hector F. Unger (grave photos)
FindAGrave - Hector Frank Unger, Jr. (Arlington National Cemetery)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ben A. Korzinski
FindAGrave - SSgt Ben A Korzinski (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Benjamin A. Korzinski (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Foster Howard Jowers (grave photo)
Thanks to Egan Fowler for additional information
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