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|Pilot 1st Lt. Grover D. Gholson, O-431862 (survived)
Crashed May 29, 1942
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39F-1-BE Airacobra serial number 41-7116. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 8th Fighter Group (8th FG), 36th Fighter Squadron (36th FS). No known nose art or nickname.
On May 29, 1942 took off from Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Grover D. Gholson on a mission to intercept Japanese aircraft. This Airacobra was shot down and crashed east of Port Moresby near Rigo in a dogfight with A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai (Tainan Air Group).
Until the 1980s, this aircraft remained off the Rigo Road near Rigo.
Bruce Hoy adds:
"Wreckage of the P-39 is off the Rigo Road, about 35 kms down the coast just wreckage only."
Gholson retired as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force (USAF). For his service, he earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Purple Heart and Air Medal. He passed away on December 7, 1994. He is buried at Enon Baptist Church Cemetery in Oxford, NC.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-39F-1-BE Airacobra 41-7116
"7116 condemned Oct 31, 1944"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39D Airacobra 41-7116
Grover Gholson wrote on April 17, 1978 to Bruce Hoy:
"On May 29th, intercepted Zeros at around 20,000 feet. While making a climbing pass at one, my P-39, I stalled out and spun. While coming act of the spin, my plane was hit. I suffered bad burns on both arms, and bailed out about 20 miles inland from the coast."
FindAGrave - Grover Durelle Gholson, Jr (grave photo)
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