|Pilot 2nd Lt John J. Durkin, O-7489321 (survived) Westfield, NJ
Ditched November 8, 1943
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Delivered to the U. S. Army serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 475th Fighter Group, 431st Fighter Squadron. Nose Number ?. No known nickname.
On November 8, 1943 took off from Kiriwina Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt John J. Durkin on a escort mission over Rabaul. Returning, this P-38 became lost in bad weather and ditched into Porlock Harbor off the north coast of New Guinea near Cape Nelson. He landed unhurt next to a U. S. Navy vessel and was immediately rescued and returned to duty.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records -
John J. Durkin
The Courier-Mail "Lifetime of thrills in 6 weeks' flying" by J. E. Vine, Courier-Mail War Correspondent, Friday 10 December 1943
"NEW GUINEA, Dec. 9. — A Lightning pilot, Lieut. John J. Durkin, of Westfield, New Jersey, began his New Guinea flying in late October. He has packed enough excitement into the six weeks which have passed since then to last most folk a lifetime.
Eight days separated two crash landings — one into the sea, the other into a jungle swamp. For the first there was a naval craft conveniently at hand to rescue him from the water, but it took 18 days and a series of adventures to get him out of the second jam. Life proceeded smoothly for Lieut. Durkin. who is 23, until November 8. It was then that he made his Bismarck Sea landing off Cape Nelson, after his unit had been scattered by a vicious storm."
Afterwards, on November 16, 1943 Durkin survived the force landing of P-38H "Hold Everything" 42-66826
Flying Aces "War Flyers In The Headlines" April 1944 page 35
"Lt. John J. Durkin - For the second time, Second Lt. John J. Durkin of Westfield, N.J., has had his name crossed off the “missing list.” His first involved a rescue at sea, following a crash landing [this aircraft] in which he was first reported killed. His second adventure occurred only recently when he was attacked by Zeros [sic Oscars] while returning form a raid on Wewak. [P-38H Lightning 42-66826 force landed November 16, 1943].
Thanks to Keith Hopper for additional information.
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November 30, 2019