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  F-5E-4-LO Lightning Serial Number 44-24559  
5th AF
6th PRG
8th PRS

USN June 7, 1945
Pilot ┬áCaptain Lewis M. Gillespie, O-522721 (MIA / KIA) OK
MIA  June 7, 1945
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors number 422-5563. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38L-1-LO Lightning serial number 44-24559. Converted to a F-5E-4-LO photographic reconnaissance version. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group (6th PRG), 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (8th PRS). No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engine and weapon serial numbers unknown.

Mission History
On June 7, 1945 took off from Clark Field piloted by Captain Lewis M. Gillespie on a flight bound for Dulag Airfield on Leyte. Over Leyte Gulf, this F-5E made a low fast pass along side the bow of USS Randolph (CV-15) receiving bombs and ammunition from LCT 832 alongside the starboard bow. Next, the F-5 pulled up to 4,000' made a wing over and shallow dive the crashed and burned on the forward flight deck at the centerline at frame no. 10.

The resulting explosion an fire caused a hole in the flight deck 49" in diameter and required replacement of a section 17' 4" spanning from frames 9 1/2 to 13 port centerline. On the deck, 11-13 sailors were killed and eleven aircraft were destroyed including seven F6F Hellcats and 4 TBM Avengers.

After the crash, a propeller hub number 100205 with two blades attached was recovered and the wreckage pushed overboard. The pilot's body was not located and he remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Gillespie was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He earned the Air Medal Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. Gillespie is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. He also has a memorial marker at West Lawn Cemetery in Henryetta, OK at section A.

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Lewis M. Gillespie
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38L-1-LO Lightning 44-24559
"24559 to F-5E-4-LO. With 8th PRS, 9st PW, 6th PG, 5th AF crashed into CV USS Randolph during ferry flight Jun 7, 1945 while carrier was anchored and rearming in Leyte Gulf. Pilot and 14 sailors killed, 11 injured. 10 Navy planes destroyed (7 F6F and 4 TBM)"
USAAF Overseas Accident Reports June 1945 - F-5E Lightning 24559
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lewis M. Gillespie
FindAGrave - Capt Lewis M Gillespie (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Lewis M. Gillespie (memorial marker photo)

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Last Updated
June 7, 2020


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