|Pilot 1st Lt. Irving Wilson Voorhees, Jr., O-428418 (MIA / KIA) Queens, NY
MIA November 30, 1942
Voorhees was born in Jackson Heights in Queens, NY. His father, Dr. Irving W. Voohees was a surgeon. He graduated from Princeton University and enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Corps in March 1941. During November 1941, he was stationed on Oahu. On December 7, 1941 his aircraft was destroyed on the ground before he could take off and two of his friends were killed in the attack. During August 1942, Voohees was assigned to the 49th Fighter Group, 7th Fighter Squadron and began flying combat missions in defense of Darwin then over New Guinea. On November 22, 1942, Voohees was awarded
the Silver Star, "For gallantry in action over Buna, New Guinea, November 22, 1942.”
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 7th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
One of sixteen P-40E Warhawks of the 7th Fighter Squadron that took off at 13:00 from 3-Mile Drome near Port Moresby, flying top cover for twelve P-40E Warhawks of the the 8th Fighter Squadron, armed with 500lbs bombs. The formation proceeded to patrol and bomb Buna Village.
"Green Flight" was led by Carl Aubrey with wingman P-40E piloted by 1st Lt Voorhees with element leader Don Lee and wingman P-40E Warhawk piloted by 2nd Lt. John Johnson. Flying at 8,000', the formation was searching among the clouds for P-40s from the 8th Fighter Squadron to escort.
At 14:45 hours over the Dobodura area the 8th Squadron planes radioed that they were under attack by A6M2 Zeros from the 252 Kokutai west of Buna village. The two pairs of escort P-40s drifted apart and were attacked from above by Zeros. According to Captain Nelson, who was not in the dogfight, the combat was in the vicinity south of Embi Lakes, within a thirty mile radius of Dobodura Airfield.
Voorhees was credited with one enemy fighter shot down. Two other pilots: Lt. Paul J. Slocum of the 7th Fighter Squadron and and Lt. Furlso S. Wagner of 41st Fighter Squadron also claimed one enemy fighter shot down each. The Japanese lost two Zeros shot down.
Voorhees was shot down by A6M2 Zeros south of Buna. Also lost were P-40E piloted by Johnston and P-40E piloted by Wesley.
Voorhees was officially declared dead on December 12, 1945. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. During September 1945, Dr. Irving W. Voohees established a memorial scholarship in honor of his son at Princeton University.
Dr. Irving W. Voohees (father)
The Evening Independent "Lt. Voorhees Dies on Battlefront" January 5, 1943
Princeton Alumni Weekly - Volume 46 - Page xliii September 28, 1945
"Another event of the day was the presentation to the University by Dr. Irving W. Voohees ’01 and honorary ’41 of a scholarship in memory of his son Bill Voorhees, our first casualty, preference to be given to a son of ’01 in lineal descent or of ’41."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Irving W. Voorhees Jr. (MIA)
History 49th Fighter Group Casualty File
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-40 Kittyhawk piloted by Voorhees
Protect & Avenge page 94-95
49th Fighter Group page 30
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis
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February 4, 2018