|Pilot 1st Lt. Andrew W. Peterson, O-438657 (MIA / KIA) ND
MIA September 14, 1942
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors Number 5316. Converted
from a P-38E model into a F-4
photographic reconnaissance version. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia. Reassembled by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) in Melbourne on September 2, 1942.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group (PRG), 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (PRS). No known nickname or nose art.
On September 4, 1942 took off piloted by Fred Hargesheimer with F4 Lightning 41-2156 piloted by Thomas from Melbourne to Stock Route Airfield near Townsville.
On September 14, 1942 at 6:00am took off from 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer) near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Andrew W. Peterson on a reconnaissance mission over northeast New Guinea including the Buna area. When this F-4 failed to return, Peterson was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). This aircraft was officially condemned October 31, 1944 and was stricken from charge on January 9, 1945.
After being declared missing, airfields in the area were checked, in case Peterson had landed elsewhere. Next, Major Polifka took off on a search mission
but bad weather hampered the search mission and he made no sightings.
Peterson was officially declared dead on December 5, 1945. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Lori Peterson Snarski (niece of Peterson)
"My Uncle 1st Lt Andrew W Peterson is still MIA and also memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing. MIA Sept 14, 1942 NE New Guinea. Never returned from a photo reconnaissance mission. Pilot in F-4 P38 Lightning. Our family still hopes he will be recovered some day. My Uncle Andy would have been 100 years old Nov 2017. Thank you for continuing the search for these heroes."
8th Photo Squadron Diary Harlan H. Olsen, Monday - September 14, 1942
"Tragedy is certainly dogging our boys. Lt. Peterson departed at 0600 in 2098 for dawn patrol of northeast New Guinea, and nothing more was heard from him. After checking the airdromes, Major Polifka took off in search of him, but a general overcast at 5,000 feet made observation impossible. Pete is a swell person, one of the regular guys, and he will be sorely missed. These first missions are exceedingly difficult. The weather is always bad, and with no experience over the terrain, navigation is mostly by guess and by God. Best of luck Pete, we shall pray that you walk out.”
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Andrew W. Peterson
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - F-4 Lightning 41-2098
The Eight Ballers: Eyes of the Fifth Air Force pages 15, 160
The School that Fell from the Sky page 45 (8th PRS diary entry September 14, 1942)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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June 4, 2019