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49th Fighter Group c1943
N. J. Paris Oct 29, 1943
John O'Neill circa Nov 1943
|Pilot 2nd Lt. Ormond E. Powell, O-798636 (MIA / KIA) Madison County, KY
MIA December 28, 1943 at 12:50pm
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructor Number 322-3313. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force as P-38G-13-LO Lightning serial number 43-2204. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 49th Fighter Group (49th FG), 9th Fighter Squadron (9th FS). Squadron number 99 painted in white on the nose and tail. Assigned to pilot 2nd Lt. John G. O'Neill who nicknamed the aircraft "Beautiful Lass" with the first letter of the "B" and "L" painted in white. On the left side of the nose was the nose art of a kneeling nude female with dark skin. Below the cockpit was a black rectangle scoreboard with eight aircraft silhouettes painted in white representing O'Neill's eight aerial victory claims.
This aircraft was flown by O'Neill on combat missions over New Guinea and Rabaul on each mission his claimed a victory between March 1943 until early November 1943 when he completed his tour of duty and returned to the United States. Sometime after claiming his eighth aerial victory, the nose art was repainted, making the kneeling nude female white skinned and painting the entire nickname "Beautiful Lass" in white lettering.
Afterwards, assigned to the 475th Fighter Group (475th FG) "Satan's Angels", 431st Fighter Squadron (431st FS) "Hades". When lost, this P-38 had engine V-1710-55 serial number 42-32933 and V-1710-51 serial number 42-29317. Armed with a 20mm cannon serial number 24812 plus .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers 199549, 199558, 199541, 199640 and 24812.
On October 29, 1943 took off piloted by Lt. John O'Neill on a fighter sweep over Rabaul. “Blue Flight” included flight leader Captain Bill Haney with flight wingman 2nd Lt. Glade Hill with element leader Lt. O’Neill with element wingman 2nd Lt. John McLean. Over the target between 20,000' to 22,000', the formation spotted enemy fighters to the north, release drop tanks and dove to attack. Diving to 18,000’ "Blue Flight" made two firing passes at 400mph down to nearly sea level. At treetop height, O’Neill claimed two Zeros shot down, his seventh and eighth aerial victory claims.
On December 28, 1943 took off from North Embi Airfield (Dobodura No. 12) on a patrol mission over Cape Gloucester Powell was flying as wingman for Captain Jett in the second flight. The other two P-38s in this flight returned to base due to mechanical problems.
Over Cape Gloucester, the P-38s patrolled until relieved at 12:35, the weather had closed in and the formation was forced to fly to 25,000', but Powell was seen to be falling behind, and 1st Lt Paul Morris called for him on the radio not to enter the overcast, and got no reply.
1st Lt. Paul V. Morris again observed Powell's P-38 flying directly into the weather front east of Aisega on the western coast of West New Britain. Three minutes later, the formation broke out of the weather, returned to base and reported Powell as lost. When he failed to return, Powell was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
Powell was officially declared dead on January 16, 1946. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Powell also has a memorial marker at Richmond Cemetery in Richmond, KY.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Jo N G ONeill
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Ormond E. Powell
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38G-13-LO Lightning 43-2204
"2204 (475th FG, 431st FS) lost near Aisega, New Britain Dec 28, 1943. MACR 1502"
Missing Air Crew Report 1502 (MACR 1502)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-38G Lightning 43-2204
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ormond E. Powell
FindAGrave - Ormond Eugene Powell (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Ormond E Powell (tablets of the missing)
49th Fighter Group by Ernest R. McDowell pages 57 (photos), 64 (ace list)
Into The Dragon’s Jaws pages 58-60 (October 28, 1943)
Protect & Avenge: The 49th Fighter Group in World War II pages 118 (photo), 130, 164, 180-181, 199-200, 204, 207 (photo), 210 (photo), 214, 358 (index)
P-38 Lightning Aces of the Pacific and CBI pages 27, 33 (photo), 89 (ace list)
Early P-38 Ace by Mark Postlethwaite depicts P-38 "Beautiful Lass" 43-2204 over Rabaul on October 29, 1943
"John O'Neill Combat Summaries for Aerial Victory Claims" research by Justin Taylan
Thanks to Jon O'Neill for additional research
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Map December 28, 1943
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