|Pilot 1st Lt Cecil D. Dewees, O-789889 (MIA / KIA) MS
MIA March 28, 1943
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) model and serial number unknown. This aircraft was likely a P-40E Warhawk. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 8th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On March 28, 1943 took off from Horanda Airfield (Dobodura No. 4) piloted by 1st Lt Cecil D. Dewees as part of "Red Flight" comprised of flight leader Captain Johns, flight wingman Lt. Howard, element leader Dewees and element wingman 2nd Lt. Merle Wolfe on a mission to intercept Japanese aircraft including D3A Val dive bombers escorted by A6M Zero fighters attacking Oro Bay.
Climbing to 22,000', they dove to 7,000' to engage a "V" formation of three D3A Vals then circled to make a second pass. Dewees did not see circling Zeros that fired at his Warhawk and hit the canopy area by 20mm cannon fire that caused this aircraft to go into snap roll into an inverted flat spin but was not observed to crash. When Dewees failed to return he was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
Afterwards, search missions failed to find any trace of this aircraft or pilot.
Dewees was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Dewees earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Missing Air Crew Report
15879 (MACR 15879)
49th Fighter Group, 8th Fighter Squadron Mission Report #211-212 - March 28, 1943
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Cecil D. Dewees
FindAGrave - 1Lt Cecil D Dewees Memorial (tablets of the missing)
Japanese Naval Air Force Fighter Units And Their Aces 1932–1945 page 52
Protect & Avenge: The 49th Fighter Group in World War II pages 122 (map), 129-131
49th Fighter Group Aces of the Pacific page 44
“Only one P-40 (and its pilot) [this aircraft] was lost in the encounter.”
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May 6, 2018