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William Carter c1944
|Pilot Col. Gwen G. Atkinson, O-21660 C.O. 58th FG (survived)Diboll, TX
Crashed January 3, 1945
Built by Republic at Farmingdale, NY. This Thunderbolt had a natural aluminum finish with star and bar fuselage marking. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-47D-21-RE Thunderbolt serial number 42-25419. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled at the 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field near Townsville.
During 1944, piloted by William Otto Carter, Jr. from Garbutt Field on a ferry flight to Port Moresby for assignment to the 5th Air Force (5th AF) to 5th Fighter Command (5th FC) under General Whitehead. Later, assigned to the 58th Fighter Group (58th FG), 311th Fighter Squadron (311th FS). No known nose art or nickname.
On January 3, 1945 took off from Hill Airfield (Hammer) on Mindoro piloted by Col. Gwen G. Atkinson on a fighter sweep over Clark Field on Luzon. This aircraft was leading the first flight with wingman P-47D 43-25490 pilot 2nd Lt. Roy E. Kindred. The pair followed Major Edward F. Roddy (HQ Squadron) with wingman P-47D pilot 1st Lt. Crystal L. Andress.
Colonel Atkinson recalled:
Over the target, hit by anti-aircraft fire, Atkinson was unaware he was hit and on fire and continued flying and saw a "Dinah" taking off. He turned 180 degrees and pursued the aircraft. He attacked when it was at 50' and shot it down without the Japanese pilot taking any evasive action and was officially credited with an aerial victory.
Fate of the Pilot
Followed by the Japanese for six or seven days, getting help from Filipinos who delayed the Japanese troops or gave them misinformation. On the seventh or eighth day, he observed a U. S. Navy dive bomber crew bail out and asked the Filipinos to bring them to him.
Together, they requested to join a guerrilla group in the area and were taken to the Hukbalahap headquarters (Communist guerrillas dubbed "Huks") led by De La Cruz. They agreed to lead them to USAFFE guerrillas and were treated decently. Other American aviators joined them, totaling 28 men. Tipped off that they might be betrayed, Atkinson insisted the group be led to a secret American radio station near Akle run USAFFE guerrillas.
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