|Pilot 2nd Lt. Robert P. Rist, O-730612 (MIA / KIA) Minneapolis, MN
MIA February 13, 1943 at 12:30pm
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38G Lightning serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled. When lost, engine and weapon serial numbers not listed in
Assigned to the 13th Air Force (13th AF), 347th Fighter Group (347th FG), 339th Fighter Squadron (339th FS). No known nickname or nose art.
On February 13, 1943 took off from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal piloted by 2nd Lt. Robert P. Rist as one of six P-38s that on an escort mission as one of six P-38s on an escort mission for six B-24 Liberators on a bombing missions against Japanese ships in the Shortland to Buin area. The escort also included seven P-40 Warhawks from the 44th Fighter Squadron. The weather was good with clear visibility.
Inbound to the target, two P-38s and three P-40s aborted the mission and returned to Guadalcanal, leaving four P-38s and seven P-40s to escort the bombers. Over the target area, the B-24s were attacked by 30 A6M Zeros and 15 float-equipped fighters (A6M2-N Rufes), with heavy flak fired by naval vessels below. B-24D Liberator 41-23975 was hit, its wing and engine on fire and dropped out of formation. Rist escorted it toward Choiseul. Ten to twelve A6M Zeros tried to finish it off. Rist claimed two Zeros, then, out of ammunition, continued to divert the attackers by diving on them.
His efforts enabled B-24D Liberator 41-23975 to fly his damaged B-24 to the north coast of Choiseul and ditch. Finally, Rist was shot down at approximately 12:30pm. Missing Air Crew Report 586 (MACR 586) states: "Last seen by Major Westbrook, 44th FS, with right engine smoking and Zeros on his tail." Rist's aircraft and body were never located, suspected to crash. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Justin Taylan adds:
"I researched this mission at the Tokyo Defense archives. The following Japanese aircraft intercepted the American formation: 11 Rufes (one aborted) of 802 Kōkūtai, 20 Zeros of the 252 Kōkūtai and 9 Zeros of the 204 Kōkūtai for a total of 39 Japanese aircraft."
Rist was offiically declared dead on December 15, 1945. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) and Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Robert P. Rist
347th Fighter Group Advanced Echelon APO 709 "Preliminary Intelligence Summary of Operations of Army Fighter Planes at Cactus - December 1, 1942 to February 17, 1943" February 21, 1943
(Page 3) "Date: 2/13 Type: P-38 How Lost: Lost in combat near Bougainville Pilot: Lt. Rist - missing."
Missing Air Crew Report 586 (MACR 586) created September 17, 1943
(Page 2) "6. Aircraft: Type model and serial: P-38G"
Kodochosho, 802 Kōkūtai, February 13, 1943
Kodochosho, 204 Kōkūtai, February 13, 1943
Kodochosho, 252 Kōkūtai, February 13, 1943
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert P. Rist
1Lt Robert Parker “Bob” Rist (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
Guadalcanal and the Origins of the 13th Air Force pages 180-181
Vampire Squadron (1985) by William H. Starke pages 25-26
Air & Space Magazine "Above & Beyond: A Bougainville Mystery by Paul A. Roales, November 2006
HEROS #1 in a series Lt. Robert P. Rist, Minneapolis Minnesota by Paul A. Roales
Thanks to Paul A. Roales for additional information
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February 18, 2020