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|Pilot 2nd Lt. Earl W. Kennamer, O-661328 (MIA / KIA) Mount Vernon, AR
MIA October 13, 1942 at 3:25pm
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39D-BE Airacobra serial number 41-7043. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Fiji and reassembled at Nadi Airfield.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force (13th AF), 347th Fighter Group (347th FG), 70th Fighter Squadron (70th FS). No known nickname or nose art.
On October 13, 1942 took off from Nadi Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt. Earl W. Kennamer as one of two Airacobras flying a local area flight to conduct altitude training. During the flight, the pair spotted B-26B Marauder 41-17590 and made an mock interception. During the pass, this Airacobras accidentally collided with with B-26B Marauder 41-17590 and both aircraft immediately crashed into the sea roughly 300 yards south of Itai Island off Nadi Airfield.
After the crash, a column of black smoke was observed and later all that was seen on the surface was a an oil slick, some wreckage and the presence of sharks. When this aircraft failed to return the crew of seven were reported as missing. When Kennamer failed to return he was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). Officially, this aircraft was condemned June 15, 1944.
Kennamer was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing, court 7.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Earl W. Kennamer
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-39D-BE Airacobra 41-7043
"7043 collided in midair with B-25B 41-17590 south of Itai Island, Fiji Oct 13, 1942. Condemned Jun 15, 1944."
Missing Air Crew Report 16434 (MACR 16434)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Earl W. Kennamer
FindAGrave - Lieut Earl William Kennamer (courts of the missing photo)
Diary of 1st Lt. Conrad A. Ray, pilot 38th Bombardment Group, 70th Bombardment Squadron
via Larry Hickey / International Historical Research Associates (IHRA)
"13 October 1942 – There is no escaping the fact that as time goes by we are going to leave some of our friends behind forever. The number of them slowly increases. As air plane was being refueled just after landing, I looked out the sea and saw that column of black smoke that always means a plane has crashed. A pursuiter came in from that direction and continuously zoomed the crash boat to start them towards the smoke. Several of our planes took off to investigate and I listened on the radio hoping to hear the reports sent back. When they reached the spot the fire had stopped, leaving two large oil slicks on the water. [B-26B Maurader 41-17590] Dick Otis with Tom O’Conner as co-pilot, ______, Douglas and three gunners were test firing guns low over the water where two 70 Pursuit planes made a pass at them. One [this aircraft, P-39D 41-7043] cut the tail from Dick’s plane and both crashed instantly. All that remained to mark the spot was the oil, a little wreckage, sharks and the floating bodies of ______ [Drewyour] and Douglas. The others will probably remain there in the blue water, near a sunken coral reef, 300 yards south of our low, small palm covered target island in Nadi Bay. The loss of Tom and Dick is great to me. We had fun together since joining the Air Corps, and two finer fellows never lived.
14 October 1942 – This morning we flew a squadron formation, practicing formation bombing in preparation for our part in the maneuvers to be held soon. The absense of Dicks plane made a vacant spot in the formation that was very conspicuous. In the afternoon all of us went to the boys funeral in Lantoka. The funeral and burial was in the same places as for Cpl. Piersans. As there it was hard to see them placed in the ground so far from home. I wish so much I could write their folks and answer the questions that will always be in their minds, but the censors wouldn’t let it through."
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional research and analysis
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