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|Pilot 1st Lt. James L. Eubanks, O-434753 (MIA / KIA) Ventura County, CA
MIA October 19, 1943 at 11:25am
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38H-1-LO Lightning serial number 42-66626. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force (13th AF), 347th Fighter Group (347th FG), 339th Fighter Squadron (339th FS). No known nickname or nose art. On February 7, 1943 arrived at Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal. When lost, engines V-1710-91-89 serial numbers (left) 42-93708 and (right) 42-29794. Weapon serial numbers noted in Missing Air Crew Report 810 (MACR 810).
On October 19, 1943 took off from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal piloted by 1st Lt. James L. Eubanks as one of thirteen P-38s on a mission to escort twenty-four B-24 Liberators over Kara Airfield on southern Bougainville. Part of a flight of four flying low cover for the bombers, led by 1st Lt. Bill Harris with wing man 2nd Lt Richards. Leading the second element was Lt. Eubanks with wing man 2nd Lt Jarrold D. Lilliedoll. Weather was reported as good.
Returning, the formation was scissoring in elements of two over the lead bomber formation. Intercepted by ten to twelve A6M Zeros. An enemy Zero was observed peeling off to try to make an overhead attack on Eubanks.
Flight leader Harris responded by pulling over to assist Eubanks, causing the enemy to pull back. While scissoring in formation, this P-38 was clipped by P-38H 42-66888 piloted by Richards causing the right wing of this aircraft to break off and the right engine explode.
Last seen by 2nd Lt. Jarrold D. Lilliedoll., the crash was observed by fellow pilots 1st Lt. John R. Mulvey, Jr., 1st Lt. Bill Harris. Eubanks P-38 was observed with a small amount of white smoke coming from the right side before going into a flat spin, steepened out and crashed. Both aircraft crashed into the sea roughly three miles northeast of the East Cape of Fauro Island. No parachute was observed. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
1st Lt. John R. Mulvey Jr. O-409685 via MACR 810 page 2 / MACR 809 page 7:
"Our force of twenty-four (24) B-24's and thirteen (13) P-38's were twenty-twenty-five (20-25) miles away from the target headed for home when I saw a P-38 crash and explode in the water a few miles north and east of Masamaso Island. I watched the spot of the crash for a few seconds but did not see a parachute anywhere in the vicinity. About the same time I saw another P-38 smoking badly but apparently still under control. I called him in to the other fighters and scissored over him a few times when I suddenly lost him. The last time I saw his ship it was headed 90 degrees to the bombers in the direction of Shortland Island. At the time of the accident we were being attacked by ten (10) to twelve (12) Zeros and in all probability they didn't pass up the chance to knock off this cripple."
Eubanks was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
L. Wells (great-nephew of Eubanks)
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