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  P-47D-21-RE Thunderbolt Serial Number 42-25419  
USAAF
5th AF
58th FG
311th FS

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Click For Enlargement
William Carter c1944
Pilot  Col. Gwen G. Atkinson, O-21660 C.O. 58th FG (survived)Diboll, TX
Crashed  January 3, 1945
MACR  none

Aircraft History
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.

Wartime History
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.

Mission History
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:
"I confirmed Roddey's position and went in to strafe, followed by Kindred. The Japs put up a barrage of fired which we flew through (years later in Japan I became acquainted with the Japanese Air Force Officer who was in command at Clark Field on that day and he told me there were some 300 anti-aircraft weapons around Clark). I could see holes in my wings of my plane and felt a heavy jolt."

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.

Damaged, Atkinson managed to bailed at low altitude. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost due to anti-aircraft fire was P-47D 43-25490 pilot 2nd Lt. Roy E. Kindred (KIA).

Fate of the Pilot
Atkinson managed to bailed out at low altitude and landed in a soft plowed field, roughly 200' from where his Thunderbolt crashed. His parachute jerked open just as he hit the ground, and injured the ribs on his left side. Meeting a Filipino farmer and a young boy, he asked them where the Japanese were, then took off his shoes and began running in the opposite direction, away from Clark Field towards Mount Arayat.

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.

Search
Although the 310th Bomb Wing, Air-Sea Rescue was notified, no search was made of the area due to enemy activity. No information was received from Filipino guerrillas afterwards.

Rescue
After contacting FEAF, 5th Fighter Command HQ, a clearing was cleared as a runway and Piper Cubs landed to fly out all 28 men. By late January, Atkinson was returned to Mindoro and was debriefed at 5th Air Force Headquarters.

Memorials
Atkinson passed away December 7, 2005. He is buried at All Souls Church Columbarium Oklahoma City, OK.

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-47D-21-RE Thunderbolt 42-25419
"25419 (311th FS, 58th FG) shot down by AAA over Clark Field, Philippines Jan 3, 1945. Pilot bailed out and was rescued by Philippine guerrilla group and rescued by US Piper Cub aircraft and returned to his unit."
No Glamour... No Glory! The Story of the 58th Fighter Group of World War II (1989) by Anthony J. Kupferer pages 211-214, 224-225, 304-305
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: Atkinson, Gwen G. page 14 (PDF page 19), Chronological List: 01/03/45 page 497 (PDF page 502)
FindAGrave - Col Gwen Grover Atkinson (photo, grave photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers and William Otto Carter, III for additional information

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Last Updated
December 31, 2019

 

Tech Info
P-47
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