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  P-39 Airacobra Serial Number ?  
5th AF
35th FG
39th FS

Pilot  Lt. Robert G. Rose (survived)
Crashed  June 25, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army, serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter Group, 39th Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On June 25, 1942 took off from 12 Mile Drome near Port Moresby to intercept enemy planes then overhead, when this plane struck a log at the end of the runway and went hurtling into a river. Flaming gasoline splashed over the plane, ammunition and the surrounding water. At great personal risk the three U. S. Army 96th Engineers General Service Regiment Negro engineers plunged into the river, swam to the blazing plane and pulled the unconscious pilot to safety.

Three Negro engineers of the 96th Engineers General Service Regiment: Cpl. Harvey M. Crandle , Pfc. Julius S. Franklin and Pvt. James Scott rescued Rose from the wreckage of his Airacobra. For their actions, they earn the Soldier's Medal for Heroism.

Carlos Dannacher adds:
"This was most likely the Laloki River which crossed between the 12 mile strip and the 14 mile strip. It was more like a large creek and could be waded in places. In June 1942 the 39th was flying from 12 mile. 14 mile was just under construction. If the 39th was taking off, it had to be from east to west so that any failures on take off would certainly slice into the river. There was no river at the east end of 12 mile. Among other things in the box were some orders of pilots returning to the USA, most of them Java veterans, in October 1942. At the bottom, Rose was also listed. So he must have been badly injured in this crash.

Edward Rogers adds:
"Nothing is mentioned about such an incident in Samuelson's book, Love, War, and the 96th Engineers (Colored): The World War II New Guinea Diaries of Captain Hyman Samuelson. On June 6 when he was still at Moresby. He did leave Port Moresby prior to June 25 which explains why he doesn't mention it then."

Previously, on June 6, 1942 Rose survived the crash landing of P-39F 41-7121
Yank Vol. 1, No. 13, September 9, 1942 "Hero Medals to three Negros for Saving Pilot in Blazing Plane"
V Fighter Command "Negros Decorated For Saving Life of 39th Pilot" March 21, 1943
Thanks to Carlos Danacher and Edward Rogers for information.

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Last Updated
February 18, 2020


Tech Info

NewsNegros Decorated For Saving Life of 39t Pilot

PhotoSoldier's Medal Ceremony

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