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|Pilot Captain Henry L. Condon, II, O-0888678 C. O. 432nd FS (MIA / KIA, BR) Opelika, AL
Crashed January 2, 1945 at 11:05am
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38L-1-LO Lightning serial number 44-24843. 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", 432nd Fighter Squadron (432nd FS) "Clover". Squadron Number 100. Assigned to pilot Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. MacDonald. Nicknamed "Putt Put Maru III".
When lost, engines V-1710-111 and V-1710-113 serial numbers A057657 and 058849. Armed with 20mm cannon manufactured by International Harvester serial number 122547 plus .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers 393766 Frigidaire, 39974 Frigidaire, 1025736 Colt and 210146 ACS.
On January 2, 1945 took off from Dulag Airfield on Leyte piloted by Captain Henry L. Condon, II on Mission 2-597 leading "Blue Flight" of eleven P-38s escorting B-25 Mitchells over Clark Field on Luzon. The weather was stratus at 8,000' over the target with solid overcast cumulus base of 2,500' over Manila.
Due to a weather front, the B-25 reached the target and bombed before the P-38 escorts arrived flying at 17,000' and descended through scattered stratus layers to 8,000'. There were no enemy aircraft nor anti-aircraft fire over the target area while the P-38s patrolled the area until 10:45am when they departed the area following Highway 3 with a solid overcast down to 2,000' and observed numerous Japanese trucks on the road.
Captain Condon reported seeing a locomotive on the railway line parallel to Highway 3 and ordered his flight to make a strafing attack from northeast to southeast concentrating on the locomotive then pulled up into an S turn over Highway 3 to the east then turned back towards the west.
Next, Condon positioned himself to make another strafing run to the southeast but instead broke away making a sharp turn to the left with white smoke streaming from his right engine and began a gentle dive to the to the east from roughly 2,000' with his engine now on fire emitting black smoke that broke into a fire from the lower cowling. He did not respond to a radio call from 1st Lt. Joseph M. Forster. Observing the fire he radioed again: "Condon, get out. Condon get out". At roughly 500' the canopy was observed to come off as he attempted to bail out but was too low to bail out. At 11:05am crashed and exploded on impact roughly 100 yards north of the highway two miles west of Bignay. The explosion on impact was observed by 1st Lt. Joseph M. Forster who took command of the squadron and returned to base in two flights. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Recovery of Remains
After the crash, Condon’s body was found in a rice field by four Filipinos Hermanihildo San Andres, Ignacio Francisco, Sotero San Gabriel and Esperdion Clemente from Barrio Lawang-Bato, Polo in Bulacan Province. They bury his remains in an isolated grave near the crash site.
During June 1948, a team from American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) interviewed the four Filipinos who buried Condon's body and lead them to the grave. The remains are exhumed and transported to Manila American Cemetery where they are placed in Manila Mausoleum No. 1 at plot 802, row E grave 1556. The unidentified remains are designated Unknown X-4579 (X-File 4579). On November 9, 1948 the remains were positively identified as Condon using dental records. Afterwards, the remains were shipped to the United States for permanent burial in accordance with the family's wishes.
Condon was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He was an ace with five aerial victory credits. Condon was promoted to the rank of Major dposthumously. For his World War II service, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/5 camp. stars (New Guinea, Northern Solomons, Bismark Archipelago, Western Pacific and Leyte), World War II Victory Medal, Distinguished Unit emblem w/ 2 OLCs, Aviation Pilot Badge, and Presidential Unit Citation and Purple Heart, posthumously.
On July 19, 1949 at 7:58pm Condon’s remains arrive at C. R. Summers funeral home in Opelika, Alabama and he was laid to rest at Rosemere Cemetery in Opelika, Alabama in the family plot.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Henry L. Condon II
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38L-1-LO Lightning 44-24843
"24843 (475th FG, 432nd FS) shot down during strafing attack on train north of Manila Jan 2, 1945. MACR 11768."
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: Condon Henry L II page 43 (PDF page 48)
Missing Air Crew Report 11768 (MACR 11768) created January 4, 1945
Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) Henry L. Condon
432nd Fighter Squadron Diary January 1945
“Captain Condon had been the ablest and best liked commanding officer the squadron ever had. His administrative ability, his qualities as a leader both in the air and on the ground, his flair for making friends, his unceasing efforts to make his squadron the best one in the group – all these talents which are very rarely found in one man were as much a part of Captain Condon as his blonde hair, twinkling blue eyes and southern drawl – our loss was a loss for the entire Fifth Fighter Command as well.”
FindAGrave - Henry L. Condon, II (grave photo)
Biography of Henry Lozier Condon II by Kenneth Tilley
Thanks to Kenneth Tilley for additional information
Map Jan 2, 1945
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