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Nicolas Duprey 2001
Claringbould Dec 2001
|Pilot Major Walter F. Kimball, 4713 Executive Officer VMJ-253 (KIA, BR) CA
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Donald E. Griffin, 9965 (KIA, BR)
Navigator Cpl. John R. Troup, 376994 (KIA, BR) CA
Crew Chief Cpl Charles W. Mottram, Jr., 313403 (KIA, BR) OH
Radio Pfc Charles D. Vestal, 374955 (KIA, BR) Fairbury, NB
Passenger Cpl Harry R. Merriner, 322123 MAG-14, VMSB-141 (KIA, BR) PA
Passenger Pvt William F. Fromhold, Jr., 321846 MAG-14, VMSB-141 (KIA, BR) AL
Passenger Sgt Edward F. Giczkowski, 285899, MAG-14, VMSB-141 (KIA, BR) Buffalo, NY
Crashed October 9, 1942
Built by Douglas. Construction Number 4437. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as C-47 Skytrain serial number unknown. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as R4D-1 bureau number 01981.
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC), Marine Air Wing 1 (MAW-1), Marine Air Group 25 (MAG-25), Marine Utility Squadron 253 (VMJ-253). No known nickname, nose art or squadron number.
On October 9, 1942 at night took off from Tontouta Airfield piloted by Major Walter "Skip" F. Kimball (Executive Officer VMJ-253) with poor visibility. This aircraft was heavily loaded with cargo plus the flight crew from VMJ-253 plus three passengers from VMSB-141. After take off , there was poor visibility and one engine failed causing it to crash into Ousassio Hill near Nouméa. Aboard, everyone was killed in the crash. The loss of the flight crew was the first casualties of VMJ-253 in the South Pacific (SOPAC).
Recovery of Remains
The entire crew and passengers were officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the crash, the recovered remains were buried on New Caledonia. Postwar, the remains were transported to the United States for permanent burial.
The wreckage of this aircraft remains atop Ousassio Hill near Nouméa. On the wreckage are approximately twenty inscriptions from passengers inside the fuselage spanning from the tail assembly to the fuselage door. Among them are "USS Ibex" a tanker ship and the name of Hollywood actress "Joan Harlow". Plus names and addresses in the United States.
Nicolas Duprey adds in 2001:
"Three of the inscriptions contain an address, we have send letters to these address since July 2001. Only one of the 3 letter came back, one is: Carol J. McCutcheon, 3940 - 4th Ave, Sacramento, California."
Kimball is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery at section G, site 2087-A. After the crash, Ousassio Hill was renamed 'Kimball Hill (also known as Mount Kimball or Mt. Kimball) in honor of the deceased pilot Major Walter F. Kimball.
Mottram is buried at Fountain Cemetery in Fostoria, OH. In Ohio, Mottram Park is named in honor of Charlie Mottram.
Troup is buried at Goleta Cemetery at Goleta Cemetery at 3 West- Lot- 027-1/2- Space- 2
Griffin was reinterment on November 11, 1947 at Golden Gate National Cemetery at section D, site 598.
Vestal is buried at Fairbury Cemetery in Fairbury, NB.
Merriner is buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA.
Fromhold is buried at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Cullman, AL.
Giczkowski is buried at Holy Mother of the Rosary Parish Cemetery in Cheektowaga, NY
The burials of the other crew members are unknown, presumed to be buried in the United States.
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