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342nd FS July 11, 1943
Alfred Hagen 1996
Via B-25 Down 1996
|Pilot F/O Wilfrid J. Desilets, Jr., T-60814 (MIA / KIA, BR) Worcester, MA
MIA August 18, 1943
Built by Republic at Farmingdale, NY. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-47D-2-RE Thunderbolt serial number 42-8059. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 348th Fighter Group (348th FG), 342nd Fighter Squadron (342nd FS) "Scourgers". No known nose art or nickname.
On August 18, 1943 took off from 5 Mile Drome (Wards) near Port Moresby piloted by F/O Wilfrid J. Desilets, Jr. on a mission to escort C-47 Skytrains bound for Wau Airfield. During the flight, this plane and P-47D Thunderbolt 42-8144 pilot 2nd Lt. Cyril O. Andrews entered cumulus clouds over the Owen Stanley Range and both became lost and failed to return. These two aircraft became the first weather related P-47 Thunderbolt losses in New Guinea. In fact, Andrews bailed out and later returned to duty. Desilets crashed and was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Afterwards, Captain Ed Roddy of the 342nd Fighter Squadron searched for these two P-47 unsuccessfully.
In 1996, Alfred Hagen located the wreckage of this P-47 at an elevation of 8,000' on Mount Strong near Arabuka village.
Recovery of Remains
Later, the remains were recovered by US Army CILHI and the crash site coded PNG-89.
Desilets was officially declared dead on December 18, 1945. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. After his remains were recovered and identified. He was buried in June 1999 at Notre Dame Cemetery in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Note, the pilot's first name is Wilfrid but sometimes misspelled as "Wilfred".
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Wilfrid J. Desilets
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Wilfrid J. Desilets Jr.
FindAGrave - FltOff Wilfrid J Desilets Jr. (tablets of the missing photo)
Kearby's Thunderbolts (1997) page 32-33
Black Sunday (2000) mentions this loss
B-25 Down Hunt For A Hero (2003) includes footage of this P-47 crash site appears in the documentary
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
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