|Missing In Action (MIA)||Prisoners Of War (POW)||Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)|
|Chronology||Locations||Aircraft||Ships||Submit Info||How You Can Help||Donate|
|Pilot 1st Lt. Thomas
C. Prizzia, O-797899 (MIA / KIA) Orange County, NY
MIA February 20, 1945 at approximately 1:15pm
Built by Republic at the Indiana Division of Republic Aviation in Evansville, IN. Constructor Number 2655. This aircraft had a natural aluminum in finish with a black engine cowling. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-47D-28-RA Thunderbolt serial number 42-28493. 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) "The Flying Buzzsaws". Assigned to pilot 1st Lt Walter L. Sweeney with crew chief Herman "Herb" Rosen. Nicknamed "Nancie-A" on the left side of the cockpit with two Japanese flags outlined in black rectangles indicating aerial victories claimed by Sweeney on October 14, 1944 over Manggar Airfield near Balikpapan on southeast Borneo. The nose cowling was painted with a white ring with a pointed edge.
On October 14, 1944 took off from from Wama Airfield (Guama, Morotai) on Morotai piloted by 1st Lt Walter Sweeney as one of eight P-47s from the 41st Fighter Squadron plus other P-47Ds from the 40th Fighter Squadron on a fighter sweep over Manggar Airfield southeast Borneo to support of the bombing mission by B-24s of the oil refineries at Balikpapan.
This P-47 was flying as element leader in the no. 3 position of "Beaver Red Flight" with wingman P-47D "Claire-Doll III" 42-28500 pilot 1st Lt. Raymond P. Wiedmeyer. Before reaching the target, Wiedmeyer signaled to Sweeney that his radio was not working or transmitting.
The weather was generally clear of the the target with cumulus clouds north of the target up to 25,000' and light cumulus clouds at the northeast end of Manggar Airfield. Over the target at 10:35am at 20,000', the formation made "S turns" down the coast and after completing one of these turns "Beaver Red Flight" became strung out amid enemy fighters with Ki-43 Oscars in front of the them with then the first element, more Ki-43 Oscars then this aircraft, another Ki-43 Oscar then P-47D "Claire-Doll III" 42-28500 pilot 1st Lt. Raymond P. Wiedmeyer and immediately a dogfight unfolded.
Statement of 1st Lt. Walter L. Sweeney via Missing Air Crew Report 10025 (MACR 10025) page 3
"On 14 October 1944, I was flying #3 position in Beaver Red flight, 41st Fighter Squadron, on a mission of 8 P-47's on a fighter sweep to Balikpapan. We arrived over Manggar Strip at 1035/I, at 20,000 feet, and began to make large S turns down the coast. Completing one of these S turns, I found myself in a long string formation, with [Ki-43] Oscars leading the parade. Next came my first element, then more Oscars, then myself, then another Oscar, then Lieutenant Wiedmeyer, my wingman. After I had made my pass, I looked behind and observed the Oscar to my rear firing at me. Lieutenant Wiedmeyer was firing at the Oscar, and I observed the enemy fighter blow up in mid-air, and began to fall in a ball of fire towards the water.
After Lieutenant Wiedmeyer shot the Oscar from my tail, I dived to gain speed, to rejoin the flight and at a considerable distance away over the water, saw a Zeke [sic, likely a Ki-43 Oscar] closing on a crippled P-47. I went after the Zeke [sic Ki-43], and sometime during this pass Lieutenant Wiedmeyer became separated from me, for I had an Oscar on my tail, and there was no P-47 behind it. I do not know if he was shot down or just damaged enough to bail out.
Prior to the arrival over the target, Lieutenant Wiedmeyer made sings to me that his radio was not working, so no word was heard from him on the air."
On January 21, 1945 flown to Mangaldan Airfield on Luzon in the Philippines with the 41st Fighter Squadron (41st FS) and continued flying combat missions.
Herman "Herb" Rosen adds:
"1st Lt Thomas Prizzia was flying my plane when he went missing. The regular pilot was Lt Walter Sweeney. Prizzia flew the plane many times. He was a fun guy, spent time talking to the ground crew."
When lost, engine R-2800-59 serial number FP-003512. Armed with .50 caliber M2 machine guns manufactured buy General Motors (GM) Frigidaire Division serial numbers 1251022, 1251292, 1251144, 1251024, 1251121, 1250993, 1251019 and 1250979.
On February 20, 1945 took off from Mangaldan Airfield on Luzon piloted by 1st Lt. Thomas C. Prizzia on a fighter sweep over Formosa (Taiwan). At 1:15pm, Prizzia radioed that he was loosing oil pressure and he would return to base. The Squadron leader acknowledged and told him to proceed back with his wing man returning at 6,000' above an overcast, but his wingman, 2nd Lt. John G. Woliung began to overtake him. Prizzia called over the radio but his message was garbled and did not answer again. This P-47 was last seen entering an overcast over the Bashi Channel south of Formosa. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
His wingman, 2nd Lt. Woliung circled the area but saw no trace of him and was unable to contact the supporting PBY Catalina. The next day, four 41st Fighter Squadron P-47s led by Captain Beamer searched from 1,000' over the area, but failed to locate any trace of Prizzia or his aircraft.
Prizzia was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. Prizzia also has a memorial marker at Saint Mary's Cemetery in Marlboro, NY.
Former pilot 1st Lt. Walter L. Sweeney died on November 27, 1944 and is buried at East Lawn Memorial Park in Sacramento, CA.
Thomas Waye (nephew of Thomas C. Prizzia)
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Walter L. Sweeney
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Thomas C. Prizzia
Missing Air Crew Report 10025 (MACR 10025) created October 24, 1944 page 3 statement regarding P-47D "Claire-Doll III" 42-28500 pilot 1st Lt. Raymond P. Wiedmeyer
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: Sweeney, Walter L. page 184 (PDF page 191)
Missing Air Crew Report 13302 (MACR 13302) created March 1, 1945
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-47D-28-RA Thunderbolt 42-28493
"28493 (41st FS, 35th FG, 5th AF) crashed from unknown cause 35 mi SW of Formosa in the Bashi Channel due to engine failure Feb 20, 1945. MACR 13302. Pilot killed."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Thomas C. Prizzia
FindAGrave - 1Lt Thomas C Prizzia (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Thomas Prizzia (memorial marker photos)
FindAGrave - 1LT Walter Leroy Sweeney, Jr (obituary, grave photo)
Thanks to Herman "Herb" Rosen and Thomas Waye for additional information
Feb 20, 1945
|Discussion Forum||Daily Updates||Reviews||Museums||Interviews & Oral Histories|