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  P-38L-5-LO Lightning Serial Number 44-26538  
USAAF
5th AF
8th FG
36th FS

Click For Enlargement
Richard Stier 1945

Click For Enlargement

Dick Kustra 2001
Pilot  1st Lt. Richard P. Stier (KIA, BR) Milwaukee, WI
Crashed  July 13, 1945
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors Number 422-7542. At the factory, completed with an unpainted aluminum finish. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38L-5-LO Lightning serial number 44-26538. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 8th Fighter Group (8th FG), 36th Fighter Squadron (36th FS). No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On July 13, 1945 took off from Murtha Airfield on Mindoro piloted by 1st Lt. Richard P. Stier as one of four P-38s on an orientation flight for two new pilots: 1st Lt. Stier piloting this aircraft and P-38L pilot 2nd Lt. Donald Henderson flying in the number 2 position. As part of the orientation, the two experienced pilots showed the new pilots the various airfields in the southwest of Mindoro.

During the flight, both new pilots were tested by the flight leader in an exercise called "rat racing" a series of maneuvers that one might use in aerial dog fights. As part of this " exercise, the flight leader performed an split-S dive through clouds but both Lt. Henderson and Lt. Stier never pulled out of their dives. The reason is unknown. Possibly, both pilot experienced vertigo, wing compressibility problems or might have collided in the clouds. When this aircraft failed to return, it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was P-38L pilot Henderson.

Recovery of Remains
A body part suspected to be one of the pilots who crashed was found about three miles out at sea off the southwest coast of Mindoro on July 14, 1945. In the late 1940's by the process of elimination, American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) in Manila assessed the body part found was probably part of Lt. Stier and was transported to the United States for permanent burial.

Memorials
Stier was officially declared dead the day of the mission. On January 10, 1951 his remains were buried at Holy Cross Cemetery & Mausoleum in Milwaukee, WI at block 1, section 1, lot 267.

Relatives
Gerry Stier (widow of Stier)
Mary Beth Kustra (daughter of Stier)
"My mother, Gerry Stier was 78 years old when she made the trip to the Philippines. She had never remarried."
Kathleen Rockweiler (daughter of Stier)

References
World War II Army Enlistment Records - Richard P. Stier

USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38L-5-LO Lightning 44-26538
"26538 (8th FG, 36th FS) failed to pull out of dive Jul 13, 1945, Mindoro. Pilot killed"
No Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) was created for this loss
March 1945 USAAF Overseas Accident Reports does not list this aircraft or pilot
Richard P. Stier - Missing P-38L Lightning crash site on Mindoro
FindAGrave - Lieut Richard P Stier (grave photo)
Thanks to Mary Beth Kustra and Dick Kustra for additional information

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Last Updated
July 12, 2020

 

Tech Info
P-38
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