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  P-47D-21-RA "Santa Maria" Serial Number 43-25642  
USAAF
5th AF
58th FG
311th FS

Pilot  Major Harry M. Odren, O-440991 (survived) Dunn County, ND
Ditched  October 21, 1944
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by the Indiana Division of Republic Aviation was opened at Evansville, IN. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-47D-21-RA Thunderbolt serial number 43-25642. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.

Wartime History

Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 58th Fighter Group, 311th Fighter Squadron. Nicknamed "Santa Maria".

Mission History
On October 21, 1944 took off from Kornasoren Airfield on Noemfoor Island piloted by Major Harry M. Odren leading "Tubby Flight" of seven P-47s on a strike mission against Haroekoe near Ceram. Over the target, the flight remained in combat for too long and departed low on fuel. Returning, they encountered bad weather and while trying to orient themselves discovered that they were unable to return to base.

The flight agreed to dive down through an opening in the clouds and ditch their planes into the sea. The six with the least fuel ditched over a wide area around Wai Island. This P-47 reportedly ditched off Batanta Island into the Dampier Strait. The seventh with more fuel remaining climbed to 13,000' contacted their base to get their position as a true bearing 105 miles west of Middleburg then descended through the clouds then ditched.

Fates of the Pilot
After all seven P-47s ditched after dark and the tide was going out. After ditching Odren managed to deploy his life raft and made it to shore on an unnamed island. Benner, Crepeau and possibly Murrie also managed to reach the shore of an unnamed island. Meanwhile, Powell, Brown and Taylor spent the night in their life jackets at sea.

Rescue
On October 22, 1944, Odren was rescued by an OA-10 Catalina from the 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron (2nd ERS) returned to duty. Afterwards, Odren returned to duty.

Memorials
Odren joined the U. S. Air Force (USAF) and also served in the Korean War and Vietnam. On May 31, 1971 he retired with the rank of Colonel. He passed away on December 2, 2001 at age 84. Odren was buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 68, site 562.

Wreckage
Today, three of the seven P-47s that ditched have been found by SCUBA divers. One is broken up in 2m of water, the other two are intact at 28 meters and 38 meters depth.

References
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Harry M. Odren

USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-47D-2-RA Thunderbolt 43-25642
"25642 (58th FG, 311th FS) ditched on mission to Haroekoe, PNG Oct 21, 1944."
Air Sea Rescue 5th Air Force October 1944
"Date Rescue: 22 Oct / Name of Persons: Maj. H. Odren / Type Aircraft Number Unit: P-47's #43-25642 / Rescue Agency: OA-10 / Facts of Rescue / Facts of Loss: These seven pilots of the 58th Fighter Group, 411 Fighter Squadron, were forced down by gas shortage caused by bad weather. Ditched in Dampier Strait area. Rescued following day by two OA-10's."
October 1944 USAAF Overseas Accident Reports does not list the loss of this P-47 serial number
FindAGrave - Harry M Odren (photo, Arlington National Cemetery)
ANC Explorer - Harry M Odren (grave photo)
Second Emergency Rescue Squadron (2nd ERS) Rescues - October 1944 - MISSION REPORT - RESCUES - 07

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Last Updated
October 18, 2019

 

Tech Info
P-47
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