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  F4U-1 Corsair Bureau Number 02723 Code 723
"Black Sheep"

USMC 1943
Pilot  Captain George M. Ashmun, O-011906 (MIA / KIA) Far Hills, NJ
MIA  January 3, 1944

Aircraft History
Built by Vought. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F4U-1 Corsair bureau number 02723. Fuselage code 723 (last three digits of the bureau number). Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific (SOPAC) and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) to Marine Air Group 11 (MAG-11), Marine Fighting Squadron 214 "Black Sheep" VMF-214. No known nickname, nose art or squadron number.

Mission History
On January 3, 1944 took off from Torokina Airfield on Bougainville at 6:30am piloted by Captain George M. Ashmun on a fighter sweep over Rabaul. The formation included forty-six fighters led by Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington including eight F4U Corsairs from VMF-214 "Black Sheep", twelve F4U Corsairs from VMF-211 plus 16 F6F from VF-33 from Ondonga Airfield on New Georgia). After take off, several fighters aborted the mission due to mechanical issues, including three Corsairs from VMF-214. During the mission, Ashmum was flying as wingman for F4U Corsair 17915 piloted by Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington.

Over the target area at an altitude of between 20,000' to 24,000' the formation spotted a group of A6M Zeros and dove to intercept. Likely, this was 29 A6M Zeros from the 253 Kōkūtai (253 Air Group). Also airborne were 27 A6M Zeros from 204 Kōkūtai (204 Air Group) that joined the dog fight.

During the combat, Boyington shot down a Zero from dead astern (his 20th victory) claiming it went down burning, and was confirmed by several other witnesses. Afterwards, both Boyington and Ashmum were overwhelmed and never seen again. When Ashmum failed to return he was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was F4U Corsair 17915 piloted by Major Gregory Boyington.

Ashmun was officially declared dead on January 15, 1946. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Purple Heart, posthumously. Ashmun is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Ashmun also has a memorial marker at Arlington National Cemetery at section MK site 193.

Navy Serial Number Search Results - F4U-1 Corsair 02723
"02723 (VMF-214) lost to enemy action Mar 3, 1944. Pilot MIA"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George M. Ashmun
FindAGrave - Capt George Malcolm Ashmun (photos, memorial marker photos)
FindAGrave - Capt George Malcolm Ashmun (tablets of the missing photo)
The Black Sheep (2000) pages 335-341

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Last Updated
August 30, 2020

Tech Info

1 Missing
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