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|Pilot 1st Lt James W. Blose, O-427506 (MIA / KIA, BR) Mercer County, PA
Crashed April 22, 1942
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Constructors Number 15-443. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39D-BE Airacobra serial number 41-7104. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled on Fiji.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 347th Fighter Group (347th FG), 70th Fighter Squadron (70th FS). No known nickname or nose art.
On April 22, 1942 took off from Suva Airfield (Nausori) on Viti Levu Island in Fiji piloted by 1st Lt James W. Blose with another Airacobra on a training mission. Ten minutes into the flight, the mission was canceled and both pilots were ordered to return to base but only one returned. This Airacobra was never seen nor heard from again. When this aircraft failed to return, it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). The aircraft was officially written off June 15, 1944.
This Airacobra crashed on Viti Levu Island. The crash site was first located by local people. In 1996, Michael Claringbould visited the crash site and afterwards reported it to US Army CILHI.
Michael Claringbould adds:
"This P-39 was first discovered by me in 1996. I was taken there by a villager who did not speak English, and we had to go through a sevusevu ceremony before walking in. I later reported the wreck as a P-39 to CILHI through then US Ambassador, Larry Dinger. no reply was received from US Army CILHI, and I know Dinger pushed the matter honorably. I did not identify the P-39 at the time as could not locate its serial, and was not even sure whether it was an MIA ship at that time. The underwings still had "US ARMY" on them, but I could not find the fuselage (had Blose in it as it turns out). Fiji One did a TV report in 2006, acknowledging me as the original finder."
During August 2004 this crash site was again reported by a Fijiian citizen to the American authorities.
Recovery of Remains
During 2005, the crash site was investigated by a team from Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC).
In June 2006, another team from JPAC excavated the site for thirty days and recovered the remains of the pilot plus the microphone electrical plug with Blose's initials engraved on it. The recovered remains were examined using dental comparison. In 2007, Blose was officially identified by the Department of Defense (DoD).
Blose was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the tablets of the missing.
After his remains were recovered and identified, Blose was buried in September 2007 at Americas Cemetery in Hermitage, PA.
Paul Blose (brother, died 1992)
Susan Blose Crowley (niece of Blose)
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - James W. Blose
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-39D-BE Airacobra 41-7104
"7104 (MSN 15-443) W/o 22 Apr 1942 in Pacific Ocean off Fiji, condemned Jun 15, 1944"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) James W. Blose "His remains were recovered"
FindAGrave - 1Lt James W Blose (photos, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1LT James Wendell Blose (photos, grave photo)
Fiji One TV Report, 2006
JPAC New Release "JPAC Team Departs For Hawaii" June 16, 2006
Thanks to Michael Claringbould for additional information
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