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|Pilot Captain Charles B. Gracey, Jr., O-024866 (MIA / KIA) Pittsburgh, PA
MIA June 14, 1944
Charles B. Gracey Jr. was born November 12, 1918 to parents Charles B. Gracey and Margaret (née Singer) Gracey in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA. He attended grammar school and Peabody high school in Pittsburgh, and attended Carnegie Institute of Technology for one year then was appointed by Senator Davis to West Point class of 1942.
On May 29, 1942 commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in field artillery then applied to the Air Corps for flight training. He completed basic flight training in Ocala, Florida and earned his wings. After several stateside assignments he was promoted to Captain in September 1943 and sent overseas to New Guinea. In December 1943 assigned to the 5th Air Force, 58th Fighter Group, 310th Fighter Squadron as a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot flying combat missions. In June 1944, he volunteered to make test flight missions and was picked by Charles A. Lindbergh to test throttle settings and air speeds for better fuel consumption.
Built by Republic at Farmingdale, NY. On August 17, 1943 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-47D-16-RE Thunderbolt serial number 42-76033. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 58th Fighter Group (58th FG), 310th Fighter Squadron (310th FS). No known nose art or nickname. When lost, engine R-2800-16M serial number 42-76033. Armed with eight .50 caliber machine guns makers unknown, serial number 647258, 657876, 410707, 946983, 657768, 656945, 657473 and 947310.
On June 14, 1944 at 1:12pm took off from Saidor Airfield piloted by Captain Charles B. Gracey, Jr. on a non-combat local test flight. The test was to try out various throttle settings for economical cruising and air speeds. The weather was low scattered cumulus clouds with 5/10 coverage.
There is no known information about this P-47 as no witnesses reported the accident nor was there any radio contact made with the pilot. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). The squadron policy was to remain in the immediate vicinity of the runway but there were no witnesses on the ground or in the air that observed what happened. Presumably, this aircraft would have returned to base with little delay due to the proximity to the airfield.
That afternoon, two P-47s from the 310th Fighter Squadron led by Major Howard A. Tuman took off from Saidor Airfield at 5:30pm a search covered an area of thirty miles in each direction of Saidor and a vector search from 025 was flown for fifty miles without results returning by to 6:30pm.
On June 15, 1944 eight P-47s took off from Saidor Airfield and searched the Saidor area then as far away as Long Island, Alexishafen, Madang and Karkar Island and Astrolabe Bay with no sightings.
Gracey was officially declared dead February 8, 1946. He earned the Air Medal. Gracey is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Captain Charles B. Gracey Jr. Air Medal citation:
"For meritorious achievement while participating in sustained operational flight missions in the Southwest Pacific area from 6 December 1943 to 7 June 1944, during which hostile contact was probable and expected. These operations included escorting bombers and transport aircraft, interception and attack missions, and patrol and reconnaissance flights. In the course of these operations, strafing and bombing attacks were made from dangerously low altitudes, destroying and damaging enemy installations and equipment. The courage and devotion to duty displayed by Captain Gracey during these flights are worthy of commendation."
Margaret (née Singer) Gracey (mother died 1990)
Mrs. Frederick F. Rohrer (sister)
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-47D-3-RA Thunderbolt 42-76033
"76033 (310th FS, 58th FG) missing on test flight over Saidor Island, Papua New Guinea Jun 14, 1944. Pilot MIA and believed killed. MACR 6381"
Missing Air Crew Report 16381 (MACR 16381) created June 15, 1944
The Pittsburgh Press "Missing Flier Declared Dead" March 6, 1946
No Glamour... No Glory! pages 144-145
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles B. Gracey Jr.
FindAGrave - Capt Charles Brooks Gracey, Jr (obituary, tablets of the missing photo)
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