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|Pilot 2nd Lt. John W. Zuber (rescued)
Gunner Cpl. Duane L. Rhodes (rescued)
Ditched September 20, 1942
Built by Douglas at El Segundo. Constructors Number 1116. Delivered to the U.S. Navy (USN) as SBD-3 Dauntless bureau number 03294.
Assigned to the United States Marine Corps (USMC), Marine Air Wing 1 (MAW-1), MAG-23 (MAG-23), Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 231 (VMSB-231). This aircraft had no known nickname or nose art.
On September 20, 1942 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by 2nd Lt. John W. Zuber with gunner Cpl. Duane L. Rhodes armed with bombs with SBD-3 Dauntless 03293 on an armed reconnaissance mission over the central Solomon Islands. The pair saw a saw large number of personnel and bombed and strafed what they believed was Gizo on Ghizo Island. In fact, they attacked a village at Roviana (Rubiana) on New Georgia Island. Tragically, the villagers were friendly to the Allied cause and the truth was later reported by an Allied Coastwatcher in the area.
Returning, the pair became lost and flew past Guadalcanal and circled an island that "looked like [a] large M". Lost and low on fuel, this plane ditched into into Lake Tegano and landed safely. Afterwards, SBD-3 Dauntless 03293 ditched but after landing, Captain Iden drowned and gunner Thiessen survived.
Fates of the Crew
Both crew survived the ditching unhurt and deployed their life raft. Later, they linked up with Thiessen and awaited rescue.
On September 24, 1942 both crew were rescued by U.S. Navy (USN) PBY Catalina from Patrol Squadron 91 (VP-91) that also rescued gunner Thiessen from SBD Dauntless 03293 and transported them back to Guadalcanal.
Zuber remained in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the Korean War and Vietnam War. He retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and passed away on May 1, 2009 at aged 88. He is buried at Riverside National Cemetery at row 58A grave 1840.
Rhodes passed away November 11, 1996 at aged 76. He is buried at Chapel of the Chimes Cemetery and Mausoleum Santa Rosa, CA.
Navy Serial Number Search Results - SBD-3 Dauntless 03294
NARA United States Marine Corps, Headquarters, Marine Aircraft Group 23 "Report of action of the forward echelon of Marine Aircraft Group Twenty-three during the period of 20 August 1942 to 30 August 1942" September 17, 1942 page 3
FindAGrave - LTC John William Zuber (photo)
FindAGrave - D. L. “Dusty” Rhodes (grave photo)
Thanks to Jim Sawruk for additional information
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September 19, 2021
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