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  P-38 Lightning Serial Number ?  
5th AF
49th FG
9th FS

Pilot  2nd Lt Woodson W. "Woody" Woodward, O-734054 (MIA / KIA) Baltimore County, MD
MIA  October 24, 1943 at 5:48pm
MACR  none

Pilot History
Woodward was born in Baltimore County, Maryland. Prewar, he was a welder. On April 9, 1942 he enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet at Langley Field, VA. Nicknamed "Woody".

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Delivered to the U. S. Army, serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 9th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On October 24, 1943 took off from Dobodura piloted by 2nd Lt Woodson Woodward as part of "Red Flight" on an mission to escort B-25 Mitchells over Rabaul. "Red Flight" was led by Richard I. Bong with wingman Woodward with element leader 1st Lt. Norman D. Hyland with wingman Milliff. Approaching from the southeast over the Warangoi River to the northwest towards Tobera Airfield.

Over the target, Bong and Woodward spotted enemy aircraft below, released their drop tanks and intercept the Zeros but failed to score any hits. Afterwards, the Zeros turned into the P-38s and caused "Red Flight" to separate. Only Bong and Milliff reformed to escort the B-25s, while Hyland joined a dogfight north of Tobera Airfield.

Woodward never rejoined the formation. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). At 5:48pm, USS Hilo (AGP-2) anchored off Buna observed a P-38 that crashed into the Solomon Sea roughly five miles away.

After observing the P-38 crash, USS Hilo (AGP-2) deployed PT Boats to the crash area and located small pieces of wreckage but no sign of the pilot.

Woodward was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Woodson W. Woodward
NARA War Diary of PT Boat Tender USS Hilo - October 24, 1943 17:48 anchored off Buna
"P-38 fighter seen to crash into the sea distant about five miles.  Dispersed MTBs immediately proceeded to the area, and recovered small items of wreckage; no sign of the pilot."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Woodson W. Woodward

FindAGrave - 2Lt Woodson W Woodward (tablets of the missing photos)
Protect & Avenge - The 49th Fighter Group in WWII page 206 (map), 207-208, 122 (map), 360 (index)
Page 208: " The intelligence people confirmed that 2Lt. Woodward had last been reported east of Buna low over the water in his badly shot-up Lockheed. That night in the Flying Knights bar as the liquor dulled the pain of the day's events, hardly anyone could recall the missing man's face. Woodson 'Woody' Woodward had only been on the flight roster a week."
49th Fighter Group Aces of the Pacific page 79
"Bong was having an off high score - his two Zekes gave him ace status. Bong was having an off day, however, for he fired at three Zekes but failed to score any telling hits. Strafing three luggers provided scant compensation for the loss of his wingman."
Target: Rabaul pages 166-167
Thanks to Keith Hopper and Edward Rogers for additional research and analysis

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Last Updated
February 18, 2020


Technical Info

1 Missing
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