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  F4U-1 Corsair Bureau Number ? Code ?
"Black Sheep"
USMC Dec. 5, 1943
Pilot  1st Lt. Robert A. Alexander (KIA, BR) Davenport, IA
Crashed  September 30, 1943

Aircraft History
Built by Vought. Delivered to the U.S. Navy (USN) as F4U Corsair bureau number unknown. Fuselage code unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific (SOPAC).

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

Mission History
On September 30, 1943 at 7:40am took off from Munda Airfield on New Georgia Island piloted by 1st Lt. Robert A. Alexander on a patrol mission. The formation included a total of four Corsairs. After take off, F4U Corsair piloted by John Bolt suffered an oxygen failure and aborted the mission then returned to base. The three remaining Corsairs continued the mission included this plane plus F4U pilot Burney Tucker and F4U Stan Bailey.

North of Kolombangara Island, the Corsairs spotted three ships and swooped down to investigate. Tucker recognized them as friendly and were in fact U.S. Navy (USN) Patrol Boats PT-126, PT-124 and PT116. One of the PT Boats fired a recognition flare, and Alexander made a strafing attack, hitting the stern of PT-126 wounding several aboard and her gunners returned fire hit this Corsair and causing it to crash.

This Corsair crashed into crashed into the jungle and exploded on impact near Ropa Point on northern Kolombangara Island.

Recovery of Remains
On December 5, 1943 a group of pilots from VMF-214 pilots: Major Gregory Boyington, Frank Walton, Doc Reames, and others took a PT boat to Kolombangara Island to search for Alexander's crash site and recover his remains. They found the crashed F4U and buried his remains at the site.

Afterwards, Frank Walton wrote to his wife:
"The plane [was] in a million pieces, and the boy, too, his bones huddled up in a pitifully small pile. We scooped out a shallow grave, laid his remains in there, painted his name on one blade of the propeller, and set it up as a headstone."

Alexander was officially declared dead the day of the mission. On December 5, 1943 his remains were recovered from the crash site he was buried on Kolombangara Island in a shallow grave marked with a propeller blade from his Corsair inscribed with "Bob Alexander - 1st LT. USMCR - Sept. 30, 1943".

Postwar, his remains were recovered and transported to the Philippines and processed by USAF Mausoleum, Manila # 1 then shipped to the United States. During 1948 he was permanent burial in Davenport Memorial Park Cemetery in Davenport, Iowa.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader "Grave" January 27, 1944
"Grave - The propeller blade of his demolished fighter plane (above) marks the burial ground of First Lieut. Robert A. Alexander, 22 (right), son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Alexander, 229 Hillcrest Avenue, Davenport on the shore of Kolombangara Island where his plane crashed Sept. 30, 1943. Lieut. Alexander, Marine Corps flier, was a member of of 'Boyington's Black Sheep' squadron, commanded by Major. Gregory Boyington, now listed as missing in action. The Davenport pilot, who enlisted in the Marine Corps April 23, 1942 went to the South Pacific in June 1943. (AP photo from Marine Corps.)"
FindAGrave - Robert Austin Alexander (grave photo)
The Black Sheep (2000) page 240-241, 290, 429

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Last Updated
December 2, 2022

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