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|Pilot 1st Lt. William L. Hasty, O-752119 (POW, survived) SC
Crashed June 5, 1944 at 10:10am
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38J-15-LO Lightning serial number 42-104359. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 475th Fighter Group (475th FG), 433rd Fighter Squadron (433rd FS) "Possum". Tail Number 179. No known nickname or nose art.
When lost, engines V-1710-91 serial number 42-95332 and V-1710-89 serial number A-037838. Armed with 20mm cannon serial number 124036 (International Harvester). Also four .50 caliber machine guns serial number 1177446 (Savage Arms) 608761 (High Standard), 613996 (High Standard), 613862 (High Standard).
On June 5, 1944 at 9:10am took off from Hollandia Airfield piloted by 1st Lt. William L. Hasty as one of fifteen P-38s on an escort mission to provide high altitude cover for four squadrons of A-20 Havocs on a strike mission against Babo Airfield. Hasty was part of "Red Flight" flying as element leader. Weather was clear with scattered cumulus clouds. Approaching the Babo area from the south at 12,000', the formation experienced heavy and inaccurate anti-aircraft fire. No enemy aircraft were spotted airborne.
Apparently, this aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire in the port engine causing a fire. Hasty made a radio call to the rest of the squadron, but the message was illegible, only "Possum Red Leader..." could be understood. While attempting to bail out, Hasty became stuck half in and half out of the cockpit before managing to free himself from the burning cockpit and successfully bailed out, reaching the ground around 10:30am.
According to other P-38 pilots, anti-aircraft fire was directed at Hasty's parachute but fell short at least 300 yards. As it descended at a 45° angle rolling and spinning, the empty P-38 had the left engine smoking and streaming flames and the right engine also began burning.
Hasty was spotted by his squadron mates flying above, his position reported as six miles south-southwest of Babo Airfield and 2 1/2 miles east of the Xasoeri River and 2 1/8 miles west of the Kasira River.
On June 6, 1944 search mission was flown by a B-25 Mitchell escorted by four P-38 led by 1st Lt. Jack A. Fisk took off from Hollandia Airfield. Flying at tree top hight, the B-25 spotted two enemy fighters at a distance and made three passes over the location where Hasty was last seen without observing any trace of him or his aircraft. An enemy Ki-43 Oscar attacked the B-25 forcing it to take evasive action and afterwards was attacked again and claimed as shot down by Lt. Peters.
On June 7, 1944 another search mission was scheduled by eight P-38s but did not take off due to bad weather. Afterwards, no other searches were made.
Fate of the Pilot
Hasty landed in a swampy area, snagged into trees badly wounded in the leg. At 2:30pm, he was located by a native who was a Japanese collaborator. He surrendered to a group of Japanese and was beaten up extensively before being taken to Babo as a Prisoner Of War (POW).
During his interrogation, the Japanese revealed they possessed detailed knowledge about the 475th Fighter Group, down to crew chiefs, and asked him to tell them the range of the P-38. He was held bound and blindfolded into a large building with a red cross, near the runway at Babo Airfield.
While interned at Babo, Hasty witnessed several American bombing missions against Babo from the ground and narrowly avoided being killed during several attacks.
On June 11, 1944 he was loaded onto a twin engine transport plane and flown to Borneo. There, he was placed in a stockade with starving Australian Prisoners Of War (POW) who generously poured their only bottle of iodine on his wounded leg which had been untreated by the Japanese, saving his life and leg.
Next he was flown to the Philippines and onward to Formosa before arriving at Yokohama Naval Base, where he endured 90 days of solitary confinement and three beatings a day. Next, he was interred at Ofuna Camp near Yokohama. Hasty survived captivity to the end of the Pacific War. After the surrender of Japan he was liberated from Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku) on October 24, 1945.
Postwar, Hasty served in the Korean War and Vietnam War.
Hasty passed away on October 28, 1996. He is buried at Piedmont Cemetery in Bishopville, SC.
Hasty was born on June 16, 1918. Other sources list this P-38's tail number as 87.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - William L. Hasty
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38J-15-LO Lightning 42-104359
Missing Air Crew Report 6380 (MACR 6380) created June 6, 1944
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Hasty Wm Leonard
"The Ghost Sentai" by Carroll R. Anderson, Wings, February 1978
June 5, 1944
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