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  R4D-5 Dakota Bureau Number 39090  
USN

Pilot  Lt(jg) John Daniel Gross, O-076500 (MIA, KIA, BR) Lock Haven, PA
Co-Pilot  Ensign Maurice Dale Linder, 306500 (MIA / KIA, BR) Elmwood, NE
Passenger  Machinist Ben Wilmer Murray, 350271 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Passenger  AMM1c George H. Beier, Jr., 4104874 (MIA / KIA, BR) IL
Passenger  ARM2c Alva Lee Cloepfil, 3427279 (MIA / KIA, BR) Springfield, MO
Passenger  AMM1c Frank Harvey Dodge, 3861084 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Passenger  AMM1c Dale Evans Drake, 3824503 (MIA / KIA, BR) MN
Passenger  AMM2c Clyde Clinton Edwards, 3570390 USNR (MIA / KIA, BR) TX
Passenger  ACMM William Hawley Eldridge, 3860208 (MIA / KIA, BR) WA
Passenger  AMM1c Leroy Robert Hamilton, 6114198 (MIA / KIA, BR) Chicago, IL
Passenger  SMN1c Donald Edward Huddleston, 8554076 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Passenger  AMM2c Robert Edgar Keil, 8685700 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Passenger  PHM2c Lee Roy Morris, 3567873 (MIA / KIA, BR) Moscow, TX
Passenger  AMM2c Marlin Ray Myers, 6507878 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Passenger  AMM2c Leo Suire, 6253252 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Passenger  AMM2c Charles Kazemei Zaremba, 6665795 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Crashed  July 23, 1944


Aircraft History
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 13859. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as C-47A-DLs Dakota serial number 43-30708.

Wartime History
Assigned to the U. S. Navy (USN) as R4D-5 Dakota bureau number 39090. Ferried overseas to Australia arriving at Brisbane on November 10, 1943. Assigned to the 7th Fleet (COMAIR7THFL). No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On July 23, 1944 took off from Mareeba Airfield on a flight to Cairns Airfield then took off again on a flight bound for Momote Airfield on Los Negros Island. Aboard were sixteen crew and passengers from the U. S. Navy (USN). When this aircraft failed to return it was declared Missing In Action (MIA).

In fact, this Dakota crashed into Mount Scratchley in the Owen Stanley Range in New Guinea, killing everyone aboard on impact

Search
A search was conducted for five days without success. On August 29, 1944, a board of investigation was ordered to convene at the U. S. Navy Base on Manus.

Wreckage
This Dakota crashed into Mount Scratchley in the Owen Stanley Range. On September 26, 1970, a search was being conducted for a crashed civilian aircraft. While searching, a glint of metal was observed and a two man patrol from the New Guinea Administration was dispatched to this location. On October 1, 1970 a two man patrol from the New Guinea Administration was flown aboard a Bell-47 helicopter to the area.

Recovery of Remains
On October 1, 1970 the two man patrol from the New Guinea Administration located the skeletal remains of an indeterminate number of personnel at the crash site. These remains were recovered and turned over to the U. S. military.

The crew were individually identified with five buried not individually identified. The remains were transported to the Philippines and United States for permanent burial.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead on February 4, 1946. All earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.

The entire crew is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. After the recovery of their remains, a rosette was placed next to each of their names.

Five of the crew are buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at section 81, site 276 including Linder, Eldridge, Huddleston and Myers.

Drake and Hamiltion are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Drake at section 12, site 8542-1. Hamiltion at section 12, site 8541-1.

Edwards and Suire are buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. Edwards at section 2B, site 2611. Suire at section W site 1085.

Murray is buried at Versailles Cemetery in Versailles, KY.

Gross is buried at Saint Johns Lutheran-Brick Church Cemetery in Montgomery, PA.

Beier is buried at Quincy National Cemetery at plot A, 374-A in Quincy, IL.

Cloepfil has a memorial marker in Eastlawn Cemetery in Springfield, MO. It is unclear if he was buried here after his remains were recovered.

Dodge is buried at Evergreen Memorial Gardens in Vancouver, WA.

Morris has a memorial marker at Forest Hill Cemetery in Livingston, TX. It is unclear if he was buried here after his remains were recovered.

Zaremba is buried at Saint Michaels Cemetery in Springfield, MA.

Heil has an unknown burial, likely in a private cemetery in the United States.

Relatives
Martha Holcomb Holley (wife of Gross)
Daniel H. Gross (son of Gross)

Mark Dodge adds:
"One of the passengers aboard this aircraft would be listed as Frank H. Dodge (USN-AMS2). Frank was known as "Harvey" in the family and had been serving since December of 1941. He had worked his way to New Guinea aboard the Liberty Ships Kenmore and Bootes earlier in 1944."

References
Some sources incorrectly state this aircraft crashed in Australia near Cairns
USAF Serial Number Search Results - C-47A-60-DL Dakota 43-30708
"30708 (MSN 13859) to US Navy as R4D-5 BuNo 39090"
Navy Serial Number Search Results - R4D-5 Dakota 39090
"39090 (MSN 13859) ex USAAF 43-30708. Crashed near Cairns, Australia [sic] Jul 23, 1944."
USN, Brief of Daily Operations, United States Fleet Aircraft, Seventh Fleet - July 23, 1944
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List July 1944
NAA "Research for missing personnel SWPA information relating to US aircraft & crews" pages 36-42
NAA: A703 614/1/25 PART 8 12188106
Williamsport Sun-Gazette (Williamsport, Pennsylvania) - Tuesday, January 30, 1945 - page 18
"LOCK HAVEN--Mrs C E Gross of Lock Haven, mother of Lieut (jg) John D Gross and his wife Mrs. J T D Gross, who lives In Birmingham, Ala, have received letters from Lieutenant Gross' commanding officer and comrades in the Southwest Pacific war zones stating that no further news has been received and it is believed that the plane piloted by the young Lieutenant was lost at sea.
Commander Perry R. illegible wrote the family describing Lieutenant Gross' last flight. Lieutenant Gross illegible] visited Robert C. Sassaman of Williamsport, boyhood friend, whose wife was the former Frances Stem, of Lock Haven; Lieutenant Sassaman writes that men at the base from which Lieutenant Gross took off believe they were over New Guinea at the time of their last radio report . . . that a unit was moving from Australia to the Admiralty Islands and the flight on which John was pilot was the first to leave Brisbane and had 17 of the best men aboard who were to begin operations [illegible] their most experienced pilot and the plane was in good condition.
The flight departed from Cairns, cleared directly to the Islands but ?. After port it is believed they were lost at sea. Chaplain D D Williams wrote that a special service of prayer [illegible]."
Martha Holcomb Holley - Obituary 0 Tuscaloosa News - Tuesday, July 29, 2003
"BIRMINGHAM | Martha Holcomb Holley, wife of the late Dr. Howard L. Holley of the University of Alabama School of Medicine, died Saturday, July 26, 2003. Born December 12, 1921 in Savannah, Georgia, she was the daughter of the late Lillian Chambliss and John H. Holcomb, Sr. who moved to Birmingham when she was three months old. In the spring of 1941 Martha married John D. Gross, a U.S. Navy Pilot from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, who was killed during World War II in New Guinea. Their son, Daniel, was born shortly before his father was declared missing in action. In 1944 Martha enrolled at Duke University. There she met young Dr. Holley of Hamburg, Alabama, who was serving in the Coast Guard. They were married in the Holcomb home on Milner Crescent in Birmingham on September 7, 1946. Martha is survived by her sons, Daniel Howard Gross and his wife, Lois, of Anchorage, Alaska, Dr. Warren Holcomb Holley and his wife, Sonya, of Tuscaloosa, Dr. Howard Chambliss Holley and his wife, Robin, also of Tuscaloosa; daughters, Mrs. Nancy Holley Capicik and her husband, Lt. Col. (ret.) Paul Capicik of Montgomery, Mrs. Jane Holley Neal and her husband, Steve, of Tuscaloosa; one brother John H. Holcomb, Jr. of Birmingham, two sisters, Ruth and her husband, Dr. Thomas W. Mears, and Mrs. Nancy Wright; seven grandchildren, Lisa and Steffen Capicik, Holley Dunigan, Allison, William, Benjamin, and Samuel Holley, and Brittni Miles. She is also survived by three great-grandchildren, Meagan and Macie Capicik, Walker Dunigan, and several nieces and nephews."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John D. Gross
"LTJG Gross was killed in an aircraft crash and initially listed as Missing in Action with an administrative date of death as February 4, 1946. Following the war, the aircraft was located and he was identified. His name is permanently engraved on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Maurice D. Linder
"Ensign Linder was killed in an aircraft crash and initially listed as Missing in Action. Following the war, the aircraft was located and he was identified. He is buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, MO. His name is permanently engraved on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ben W. Murray
"Machinist Murray was killed in a plane crash in 1944. The aircraft was recovered in 1970 and his remains were identified. His name is permanently engraved on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George H. Beier Jr.
"Petty Officer Beier was killed in an aircraft crash and initially listed as Missing in Action with an Administrative Date of Death as February 4, 1946. Following the war, the aircraft was located and he was identified. He is buried in Quincy National Cemetery, Quincy, IL. His name is permanently engraved on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Alva Lee Cloepfil
"Petty Officer Cloepfil was killed in an aircraft crash and initially listed as Missing in Action. Following the war, the aircraft was located and he was identified. His name is permanently engraved on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank H. Dodge

"AM1 Dodge's remains have been recovered and are interred at a private cemetery in the state of Washington. He was initially listed as Missing in Action with an administrative date of death as February 4, 1946. His name is permanently inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Dale E. Drake
"AVMM1C Drakes remains have been recovered. He is interred at Arlington National Cemetery. His name permanently inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Clyde C. Edwards
"Petty Officer Edwards was killed in an aircraft crash and initially listed as Missing in Action with an administrative date of death as February 4, 1946. Following the war, the aircraft was located and he was identified. He is buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, TX. His name is permanently engraved on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William H. Eldridge
"Petty Officer Eldridge was killed in an aircraft crash and initially listed as Missing in Action. Following the war, the aircraft was located and he was identified. He is buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, MO. His name is permanently engraved on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Leroy R. Hamilton
"Petty Officer Hamilton was killed in an aircraft crash and initially listed as Missing in Action. Following the war, the aircraft was located and he was identified. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA. His name is permanently engraved on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Donald E. Huddleston
"Petty Officer Huddleston was killed in an aircraft crash and initially listed as Missing in Action. Following the war, the aircraft was located and he was identified. He is buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, MO. His name is permanently engraved on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert E. Keil
"Petty Officer Keil was killed in an aircraft crash and initially listed as Missing in Action. Following the war, the aircraft was located and he was identified. He is buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, MO. His name is permanently engraved on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lee R. Morris
"Petty Officer Morris was killed in an aircraft crash and initially listed as Missing in Action. Following the war, the aircraft was located and he was identified. His name is permanently engraved on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Marlin R. Myers
"Petty Officer Myers was killed in an aircraft crash and initially listed as Missing in Action. Following the war, the aircraft was located and he was identified. He is buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, MO. His name is permanently engraved on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Leo Suire
"Petty Officer Suire was killed in an aircraft crash and initially listed as Missing in Action. Following the war, the aircraft was located and he was identified. He is buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas. His name is permanently engraved on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles K. Zaremba
"Petty Officer Zaremba was killed in an aircraft crash and initially listed as Missing in Action. Following the war, the aircraft was located and he was identified. His name is permanently engraved on the Walls of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery."
FindAGrave - LTJG John Daniel Gross (grave photo)
FindAGrave - LTJG John Daniel Gross (grave photo photo)
FindAGrave - Ens Maurice Dale Linder (group burial grave photo)
FindAGrave - Ben Wilmer Murray (grave)
FindAGrave - George Henry Beier, Jr (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Alva Lee Cloepfil (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Frank Harvey Dodge (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Dale Evans Drake (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Clyde Clinton Edwards (grave photo)
FindAGrave - William Harvey Eldridge (group burial grave photo)
FindAGrave - Leroy Robert Hamilton (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Donald E Huddleston (group burial grave photo)
FindAGrave - Robert Edgar Keil (group burial grave photo)
FindAGrave - Lee Roy Morris (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Marlin Ray Myers (group burial grave photo)
FindAGrave - Leo Suire (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Charles Kasamei Zaremba (grave photo)
Oz@War - Crash of a R4D-5 Skytrain between Cairns and Port Moresby on 23 July 1944
Aviation Safety Network - Sunday 23 July 1944 Douglas R4D-5 (DC-3)
Thanks to Mark Dodge, Daniel Leahy and Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
November 6, 2018

 

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