|Pilot 1st Lt. William J. Sparks, O-789955 (MIA / KIA) Elkin, NC
MIA July 3, 1944 at 8:30am
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39Q-5-BE Airacobra serial number 42-19999. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 110th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. When lost engine: V-1710-83 serial number 42-27428. No known nose art or nickname.
On July 3, 1944 took off from Tadji Airfield on a strafing mission over the Wewak area. This aircraft was last seen heading out to sea after making several strafing passes on Japanese positions along the north coast of Wallis Island. Last reported position was Lat 3° 15' S Long 143° 20'. This aircraft failed to return and was declared Missing In Action (MIA).
Despite extensive searches of the area, no trace of this aircraft or the pilot was be found. There was a report of a life raft between But and Dagua, but it was not found during the official search.
Sparks was officially declared dead on February 8, 1946. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Bryan W. Sparks (great-nephew)
"He was sorely missed by his family. My Great Grandmother had lots of awesome WW2 pictures and personal items of his. She even had his final paycheck, she never cashed it. She thought it was a slap in face for the loss of such a fine son. He was a student at Appalachin State University when the war broke out. I know he went to flight school in 1942. On 8 FEB 1946 he was listed as FOD or Found Out Dead. I was told by someone at the VA that this means he was either listed on some sort of POW records or was identified by an eye witness in a POW camp and was killed or died in captivity. I have ordered a copy of his service record from the St. Louis records center and will update any info if I get any, keep your fingers crossed! I have attached the two pictures that I have of my uncle in service. These, a copy of Air News Yearbook 1942, his 1939 Elkin High School Diploma, are all that I have of him."
Missing Air Crew Report 6690 (MACR 6690)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William J. Sparks
FindAGrave - 1LT William J Sparks (tablets of the missing)
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February 18, 2020