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|Pilot 1st Lt. Paul Smith, O-740581 (MIA / KIA) WV
MIA November 8, 1943 at 11:00am
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38H-1-LO serial number 42-66593. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 475th Fighter Group (475th FG) "Satan's Angels", 431st Fighter Squadron (431st FS) "Hades". No known nickname or nose art.
On November 8, 1943 at 9:40am took off from Kiriwina Airfield piloted by 1st Lt. Paul Smith on a patrol mission. This aircraft was part of "Red Flight" led by Major Nichols with Lt. R. Herman as wingman, this aircraft as element leader with element wingman P-38H 42-66908 piloted by 2nd Lt. Roger A. Pare. After leaving Kiriwina Island, the flight flew towards Goodenough Island flying over the southwest tip then flew toward Oro Bay and experienced worsening weather conditions. Flying in tight formation in bad weather, this aircraft was last seen at 11:00am roughly 20 miles northwest of the Ayutosen Maru (The Gona Wreck). When Smith failed to return he was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
Statement of 2nd Lt. Roger A. Pare via MACR 1846 (MACR 1846) page 8:
"1. My flight (Red Flight) took off from Kiriwina at 9:40, 8 November 1943. The flight consisted of Major Nichols as flight leader, Lt R. Herman as his wingman, Lt. Paul Smith as element leader and myself as Lt. Smith's wingman. After leaving Kiriwina, we flew a course towards Goodenough Island, hitting the southwest tip of it. We then flew on a new course towards Oro Bay. After leaving Goodenough, the weather became worse and worse. We flew as tight a formation as possible to keep track of each other. At times the other planes would disappear from sight through the mist, although we were no more than 10 feet apart. We finally got into one cloud that was too dense to keep track of the other planes. I swung to the right to avoid any chance of colliding with Lt. Smith. After staying on course for a few moments, I swung a course away from where our planes might be, so as to avoid collision.
2. The last I saw of Lt. Smith was when we flew into the last cloud. Before he disappeared, he was in perfect formation. The approximate position for the cloud into which we disappeared was about 20 miles northeast of the Gona Wreck. I saw land approximately 25 mines after leaving the formation."
Smith was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He earned the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart, posthumously. Smith is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38H-5-LO Lightning 42-66593
"66593 (475th FG, 431st FS) MIA at New Guinea Nov 8, 1943. MACR 1846.
Missing Air Crew Report 1846 (MACR 1846) created November 10, 1943
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Paul Smith
FindAGrave - Paul Smith (photo, tablets of the missing)
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Nov 18, 1943
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