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|Pilot 2nd Lt. John H. Hartsfield, O-677035 (MIA / KIA, BR) Gallup, NM
MIA February 14, 1944
Built by Republic at the Indiana Division of Republic Aviation in Evansville, IN. Constructor Number 413. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-47D-3-RA Thunderbolt serial number 42-22662. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 35th Fighter Group (35th FG), 41st Fighter Squadron (41st FS). No known nose art or nickname.
On February 14, 1944 took off from Gusap Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt. John H. Hartsfield on an escort mission over Wewak. Returning from the mission, this P-47's engine was observed to be smoking and ceased functioning, causing the aircraft to begin gliding downward from 18,500'. By skilled maneuvering, Hartsfield was able to glide almost twenty miles before he crash and burned a quarter mile west of Annanberg.
Captain Richard Mikiska witnessed the crash and did not see Hartsfield bail out. When he overflew the crash site, he saw no evidence of a parachute or the pilot.
On February 15, 1944 and February 16, 1944 search missions were conducted over the crashed aircraft and adjacent territory, but no evidence of the pilot was found. The Air Intelligence Force was contacted relative to the possibility of dispatching an investigative patrol. After due consideration, it was decided that there was insufficient justification for sending a patrol so deeply into enemy territory.
During 1946, a Kiap (Patrol Officer) visited the crash site and located a grave nearby where local people buried the pilot.
Recovery of Remains
In 1946, the same Kiap recovered the remains of the pilot and turned them over to American authorities.
John Douglas adds:
"The Patrol Office located a grave, from which remains were removed."
After the recovery of remains, Hartsfield was buried at Woodbine Cemetery in Eddy County, New Mexico at plot 26-21-8.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John H. Hartsfield
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-47D-3-RA Thunderbolt Serial Number 42-22662
"22662 (41st FS, 35th FG, 5th AF) crashed 1/4 mi W of Annanberg Madang, Papua New Guinea Feb 14, 1944 due to engine failure. MACR 15852. Pilot killed."
Missing Air Crew Report 15852 (MACR 15852) created retroactively on May 1, 1945
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-47D Thunderbolt 42-22662
Lists location as 1 mile north of Nodabu and 2 miles NW of Annanberg Mission.
FindAGrave - John H. Hartsfield (grave photo)
Thanks to John Douglas for additional information
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