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|Pilot 1st Lt. Charles R. Garner (rescued) Jefferson County, AR
Crashed December 4, 1944 at 5:45pm
Built by North American Aviation (NAA) in Inglewood. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-51D-10-NA Mustang serial number unknown 44-14??? (last three digits unknown). Converted to F-6D-10-NA photographic reconnaissance version. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On December 4, 1944 at 3:00pm took off from Biak Island piloted by 1st Lt. Charles R. Garner as one of six Mustangs on a ferry flight bound for Wama Airfield on Morotai Island. After take off, the formation separated into two flights. The second flight included F-6D 44-14633 piloted by Richards and this aircraft as his wingman.
At 3:45pm the formation passed Middleburg, checked the weather then proceeded to Morotai. Approaching the northern tip of Halmahera, the weather became bad with heavy towering cumulus clouds from sea level to 30,000'. Due to a shortage of fuel, the formation could not turn back and attempted to fly through an opening at 12,000', but the weather closed in at 5:45pm. F-6D 44-14633 piloted by Richards became separated in the bad weather and was heard by 2nd Lt. Philips, 1st Lt. Garner and 2nd Lt. Lambert contacting Morotai for weather reports by radio and went Missing In Action (MIA).
Lost in bad weather and low on fuel, Garner became separated and bailed out approximately 20 miles south of Morotai. The rest of the formation were told to reverse course, flew for 15 minutes but experienced weak radio signal, so returned to their original heading and landed safely at 6:15pm at Wama Airfield.
Fate of the Pilot
Garner landed safely and was later rescued by an Australian ship and returned to duty.
Garner passed away on July 2, 1995 at age 71. He is buried at Fort Smith National Cemetery at section 15, site 1320. His epitaph reads: "Beloved father, American hero".
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Charles R. Garner
Missing Air Crew Report 12190 (MACR 12190) related to F-6D Mustang 44-14633 page 2 and 5 mentions Garner
FindAGrave - Charles R Garner (grave photo)
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