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475th FG c1943
|Pilot Captain Daniel "Danny" T. Roberts, Jr., O-426977 C. O. 433rd FS (MIA / KIA, BR) Tucumcari, NM
Crashed November 9, 1943
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors Number 1345. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38H-5-LO Lightning serial number 42-66834. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 475th Fighter Group (475th FG) "Satan's Angels", 433rd Fighter Squadron (433rd FS) "Possum". Assigned to pilot Captain Daniel T. Roberts with crew chief Ted Hanks. Tail Number 198. No known nickname or nose art.
On November 9, 1943 took off from North Borio Airfield (Dobodura No. 15) piloted by Captain Daniel T. Roberts leading twelve P-38s flying in three flights from 433rd Fighter Squadron (433rd FS) "Possum" on a mission to provide low cover between 6,000' to 8,000' for B-25 Mitchells from the 38th Bombardment Group (38th BG) on a strike mission against Alexishafen Airfield. The escort also included twelve P-38 Lightnings from the 432nd Fighter Squadron (432nd FS) "Clover".
Roberts was in the lead flight of four with wingman P-38H 42-66546 pilot 2nd Lt. Dale O. Meyer with element leader 1st Lt William G. Jeakle and wingman Lt. William Grady. The formation rendezvous over "The Gona Wreck" (Ayatosan Maru) then flew up the north coast of New Guinea to the target. At some point, element leader P-38 pilot 1st Lt William G. Jeakle in the lead flight aborted the mission leaving only three P-38s in the lead flight and a total of eleven P-38s in the 433rd Fighter Squadron (433rd FS) "Possum" formation.
After the B-25s finished their strike against Alexishafen Airfield, Roberts radioed to release drop tanks. At 10:15am the P-38s engaged between 15-25 enemy fighters including Ki-43 Oscars and Ki-61 Tonys over Sek Harbor off Alexishafen. During the air combat at low level, Grady saw a "Hamp" [sic Ki-43 Oscar] being attacked by Roberts that burst into flames roughly 100' above the sea. Afterwards, this claim was credited to Roberts as his fourteenth and final aerial victory. In the confused dog fight, fighter aircraft seemed to be everywhere.
Roberts and Meyers were flying at roughly 200' in pursuit of a Ki-43 Oscar headed towards Alexishafen Airfield that turned suddenly. When Roberts turned to follow, Meyers failed to turn fast enough and collied with him.
This aircraft caught fire, exploded and crash into the ground near Alexishafen Airfield. Also fatally damaged, P-38H 42-66546 pilot 2nd Lt. Dale O. Meyer crashed about 600 yards to the left of Roberts to the east of Alexishafen Airfield. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was P-38H 42-66596 pilot 2nd Lt. John C. Smith (MIA).
Robert Rocker adds:
"Crew chief Ted Hanks told me that when he was told of Danny Roberts death at Alexishafen that he went off into the jungle and cried for several hours and not a single day in his long life did he not think of Danny Roberts whose life was taken at such a young age."
This P-38 crashed near Alexishafen Airfield.
Recovery of Remains
After the crash, Japanese Army personnel located the crash site and buried the remains of the pilot near the crash site. During 1947, his remains were exhumed by the Australian Army and turned over to American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) and transported to Manila for permanent burial.
Roberts was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He earned Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. Roberts is buried at Manila American Cemetery plot J row 2, grave 23.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Daniel T. Roberts
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38H-5-LO Lightning 42-66834
"66834 (475th FG, 433rd FS) in collision with P-38 42-66546 over Alexishafen area, New Guinea Nov 9, 1943. MACR 1261. Pilot KIA"
Missing Air Crew Report 1261 (MACR 1261) created November 10, 1943
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-38H Lightning 42-66834
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Daniel T. Roberts Jr.
FindAGrave - Capt Daniel Tipton Roberts, Jr (photo, grave photo)
Stars & Bars (1995) page 65 (475th FG, Roberts) 526 (Roberts, Jr Daniel Tipton)
Possum, Clover & Hades 475th Fighter Group in World War II (2004) pages 96-98 (November 9, 1943, Roberts photo), 289 (losses), 295 (475th FG aircraft), 309 (Aerial victory claims 11/09/43 432nd FS / 433rd FS), 333 (index Roberts)
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Nov 9, 1943
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