|Pilot 1st Lt. Francis S. Love, O-736269 (MIA / KIA) Dexter, Iowa
Crashed November 2, 1943
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Constructors
Number 7282. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 9th Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. When lost, engine serial numbers 42-31648 and 42-29178.
On November 2, 1943 took off from Horanda Airfield (Dobodura No. 4) piloted by 1st Lt. Francis S. Love on a mission to escort B-25s attacking Japanese shipping in Simpson Harbor at Rabaul. Inbound to the target, the flight encountered bad weather and over Rabaul flak and fighters. Intercepted by enemy fighters near the mouth of the Warango River, the escorting P-38s engaged about 20 Zekes and Oscars. This P-38 failed to return and Love was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). He was presumed lost to enemy aircraft.
During the late 1990s, the crash site of a P-38 was discovered on Clifton Plantation southeast of Tobera Airfield. The aircraft impacted vertically at high speed and there was not much wreckage on the surface.
Recovery of Remains
During an initial investigation in the late 1990s, U. S. Army CILHI, the wreck was not acknowledge as American or a P-38, despite the discovery of a "NO STEP" stencil. Later,
Brian Bennett discovered the constructors number 7282 stenciled on the red painted propeller spinner, proving the crash site to be that of P-38G Lightning 42-12848 piloted by Love.
During 1999, CILHI returned to the crash site to conduct a full investigation. In 2001, another CILHI team returned to conduct further investigations. Love's remains were recovered and his 1936 class ring from Dexter, Iowa was recovered.
After the recovery of remains, a funeral service was held September 27, 2002. Six classmates, including Doris Wilson Neal attended his burial. He was buried at Dexter Cemetery in Dexter, Iowa.
Bryon Weesner adds:
"At first he was not going to be allowed to be a pilot because of his size (a rather slim individual and short at 5 foot 4 inches). The vault cover photo was specially made for him by Wilbert Vault Companies, he was one of the first veterans to have a vault personalized. “Boys of Humpty Doo” which was a nickname used by the 49th Fighter Group because of their main air camp in Australia on the Humpty Doo cattle ranch."
Previously, Love bailed out of P-38 Lightning on July 13, 1943 and returned to duty.
Missing Air Crew Report 1315 (MACR 1315)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-38G Lightning 42-12848
49th Fighter Group - Aces of the Pacific, pages 80-81
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) -
Francis S. Love
"1LT Love's remains have been recovered and identified. His name is permanently inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial."
FindAGrave - Francis Schuyler Love (photo, grave photo)
Thanks to Brian Bennett and Rick Ray for additional information
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June 4, 2019