|Pilot 2nd Lt Richard S. Ryrholm, Jr., O-743510 (MA / KIA) Arlington, MA
Crashed September 4, 1943 at 10:00
Richard Ryrholm (pronounced Ryer-home) was a Swedish American. He was born in Arlington, MA and had a twin brother, Robert. He attended Arlington High School and was elected class president. He was assigned to the 475th Fighter Group, 432nd Fighter Squadron. When he failed to return from the September 4, 1943 mission he earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. His siblings also served in the war. Older brother Arthur served in the Pacific (wounded twice), twin brother Robert as a pilot training B-29 crews and his sister Eleanor in the Coast Guard. Richard enlisted in the U.S. Army after Pearl Harbor and attended flight school.
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 475th Fighter Group (475th FG) "Satan's Angles", 432nd Fighter Squadron (432nd FS) "Clover". This P-38 was painted with olive drab upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces. Assigned to pilot Elliot E Summer with crew chief S/Sgt Carl E. Plecker. Squadron Number 143 (White 143). Nicknamed "Blood & Guts II" painted in red outlined in white. Below the left side of the cockpit was a scoreboard with six aerial victory claims (2x3) on a yellow background with a red rectangle in the seventh space.
The propeller spinners had a yellow band. The tail had squadron number 143 (White 143) with a yellow upper tip.
When lost, engines: Allison V-1710-89 serial number 42-29976 and V-1710-91 serial number 142-93931. Weapon serial numbers not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 965 (MACR 965).
On September 4, 1943 took off from North Borio Airfield (Dobodura Airfield No. 15) on a patrol over the Bena Bena to Saidor area. Ryrholm was part of Green Flight flying in the No. 2 position. Weather was reported as 5/10 cloud cover at 1,000' and good visibility.
Near Lae Airfield, the formation observed an enemy reconnaissance plane near the formation released their drop tanks. Flying above, F/O Henry Condon saw many flying pieces in the air and believed it was quite possible that one of the drop tanks hit his plane, damaging it. Ryrholm's plane was last seen flying on one engine, losing altitude and the other engine emitting a slight amount of smoke. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
An area search was conducted for two days following the loss by P-38 under the direction of Captain Daniel T. Roberts the operations officer of the 432nd Fighter Squadron.
Nothing was observed.
During 2005, this aircraft was located in the vicinity of Sambiang, to the east of Lae. Reported by a villager Patrick Aronzen of Samblang village to a JPAC team working at a nearby crash site.
Brian Bennett adds:
"I was on the IE for this aircraft and it was identified from an engine number as far as i can remember. Possibly from a stencil as well later on, don't know. I remember that it was a very hot and stinking humid day when we went to the crash site. It was found and reported by a nice local bloke from Sambiang village."
Recovery of Remains
During January 14 - February 22, 2010 JPAC conducted a forty day investigation at the crash site performed by "Recovery Team 2". The crash site was designated "CIL 2010-023" and "05-2PP".
During the investigation, human remains and personal effects were located, including a gold ring with the initials "R. R." inside (Richard Ryrholm), a US Army wrist watch, the hands were missing but shading on the dial indicated it was frozen at 10:00am and engraved on the back "Richard S. Ryrholm, Jr.". Also a pocket knife.
The remains and personal effects were transported to JPAC and accessioned on March 2, 2010 and designated . A bag roughly 16" x 14" of recovered remains, some broken by the impact and others charred from fire were positively identified using dental records and circumstantial evidence from the crash and personal effects, mDNA testing was not required. On September 20, 2010, DPMO reported Ryrholm's remains were positively identified.
Ryrholm's last living sibling past away prior to the US military contacting the family. Nephew Jan Harper was contacted by the US military during October 2010. During January 2011, he visited the JPAC in Hawaii to accept the remains, and per the family's wishes had them cremated for burial in his hometown with his parents.
Ryrholm was officially declared dead the day of the mission on July 21, 1949. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
He was memorialized on his parent's grave at Mount Pleasant Cemetery
in Arlington, MA. After his remains were identified he was buried on with full military honors on June 18, 2011 at Mount Pleasant Cemetery at Section V, Lot 785 in Arlington, MA.
Jan Harper (nephew, Ruth's son)
"My mom never talked about Richard's loss. All I knew previously was that he was shot down over New Guinea. I was first contacted by the US military in October 2010 about his discovery."
Richard Ryrholm (nephew, son of Arthur Ryrholm)
Richard Harper (nephew, Ruth's son)
Linnea Merriman (daughter of Arthur Ryrholm)
Eric Scatchard (nephew, Eleanor's son)
Erica Ryrholm (niece, Robert's daughter)
Diana Ryrholm-Gerrdes (niece, Robert's daughter)
Christina Ryrholm (niece, Robert's daughter)
Missing Air Crew Report 965 (MACR 965)
Calaveras Enterprise "Pilot shot down in 1943, finally laid to rest" July 5, 1943
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-38H Lightning 42-66748
Massachusetts National Guard "Fallen Soldier, Missing Since 1943, Returns to Commonwealth" June 16, 2011
Sigh On San Diego "Final chapter of a World War II mystery unfolds" June 24, 2011
Boston Herald "Shot down in 1943, finally laid to rest" June 19, 2011
Boston Globe "Pilot missing since WWII laid to rest" June 19, 2011
CBS Boston "WWII Pilot Missing Since 1943 Buried in Arlington" June 19, 2011 (AP)
Arlington Advocate "Soldier's remains to return to Arlington" June 14, 2011
Argus Leader "Bringing closure to WWII tragedy" January 25, 2011
Sign On San Diego "World War II wreckage solves a local family's mystery" Dec 6, 2010
Recordnet "Pilot finally coming home" November 19, 2010
DPMO - 2010 Accounted-For Ryrholm
DMPO The Torch Vol 5, No. 1, page 3 recent identifications [PDF]
Thank you to Jan Harper for additional information
Search and Recovery Report CIL 2010-023, a P-38H Crash Site Associated with MACR 0965 in the Vicinity of Beremung Village, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea 14 January Thorough 22 February 2010.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Richard S. Ryrholm Jr. "His remains have been recovered and identified on September 20, 2010"
Lieut Richard S Ryrholm (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Richard S Ryrholm, Jr (memorial/grave photo Mount Pleasant Cemetery)
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December 1, 2019