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USS Princeton (CVL-23)
|Pilot Ensign Leonard C. Keener, O-176922 USNR (MIA / KIA) CA
Crashed November 1, 1943
Built by Grumman as model G-50. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F6F-3 Hellcat bureau number 66021.
Assigned to USS Princeton (CVL-23) to Fighting Squadron 23 (VF-23). No known nickname or nose art.
On November 1, 1943 took off from the USS Princeton piloted by Ensign Leonard C. Keener on a mission over Bonis Airfield on Bougainville. Last seen on a strafing run over the target and failed to return, crashing over the target area.
In the early 1970s, pieces of wreckage with Bureau Number 66021 were noted by Charles Darby at Bonis in a pile where they had been collected.
Charles Darby visited this wreckage in the 1970s:
"I never got any shots of the shredded shards remaining of 66021. Was lucky even to find the serial. Don't know where it crashed --- maybe there's more left there and what I saw was only bits that had been carried back to the scrap pile?"
Keener was officially declared dead on January 11, 1946. He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. Keener is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. He also has a memorial marker at Visalia Public Cemetery in Visalia, CA at section Section X T 1 grave 27.
Navy Serial Number Search Results - F6F-3 Hellcat 66021
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List November 1943 - F6F-3 Hellcat 66021 loss location as Rabaul [sic Bonis]
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Leonard C. Keener
FindAGrave - Ens Leonard C Keener (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Leonard Calvin Keener (memorial marker photo)
Thanks to Ted Darcy for additional information
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January 23, 2021
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