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|Pilot Gertrude V. "Tommy" (née Tompkins) Silver (MIA / KIA) Jersey City, NJ
MIA October 26, 1944
Gertrude V. "Tommy" Tompkins was born in born October 16, 1911 to parents Vreeland Tompkins and Laura (née Towar) Tompkins in Jersey City, NJ. Nicknamed "Tommy". She graduated Graduated WASP Class 43-W-7. On November 13, 1943 she graduated and was stationed at Love Field in Dallas, TX and assigned to the 5th Ferry Group, 601st Ferry Squadron. During September 1944, she married Henry M. Silver a Hollywood movie producer and became Gertrude Tompkins Silver. Tompkins is the only Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) pilot Missing in Action (MIA during World War II.
Built by North American in Inglewood, California. Constructors Number 109-28802. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-51D-15-NA Mustang serial number 44-15669. Assigned to the 5th Ferrying Group, 601st Ferrying Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. Also known as "669", the last three digits of the serial number.
On October 26, 1944 at 3:42pm took off from Mines Field (Los Angeles Airport, LAX) piloted by Gertrude V. Tompkins on a ferry flight bound for Coolidge Field in Arizona, the first leg in a cross country flight to the east coast. At the time, a light haze of fog was reported over Santa Monica Bay off Los Angeles. When this aircraft failed to return it was reported as missing.
No search was initiated until several days after the crash. During wartime searches, no trace was found of her plane in searches. As late as June 8, 1994, the HQ for Air Force Safety Agency conducted a search and reported that no wreckage has been located.
During October 2009, MAST "Gertrude Tompkins Expedition" searched for her aircraft. During their searches, they located a U. S. Air Force (USAF) T-33 jet trainer missing since October 15, 1955.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-51D-15-NA Mustang 44-15669
"15669 (601 Ferrying Squadron, 5th Ferrying Group) missing on flight from Mines Field, CA Oct 26, 1944. Lost on first leg of ferry flight from Mines Field to the east coast. Probably crashed into Santa Monica Bay. WASP pilot missing, presumed dead."
MAST "The Gertrude Tompkins Expedition"
LA Times "Mystery at Sea Tantalizes Searchers" October 11, 2009
NJ.com "Team search Santa Monica Bay for remains of N.J. World War II pilot who disappeared 65 years ago" October 11, 2009
SCUBA Diving "Search Underway for Missing Heroine of World War II and her P-51 Mustang" 2009 via Archive.is
FindAGrave - Gertrude Vreeland “Tommy” Tompkins (photo)
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