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1st Lt. Gabriel J. Eggud
P-39 Airacobra pilot Missing In Action (MIA)
Background
Gabriel Joseph Eggud was born November 17, 1918 to father Gabriel Eggud and mother Lydia M. Molnar Eggud in Linoleumville (today Travis) Staten Island, New York. His surname was pronounced Egg-ed his heritage was Czechoslovakian. He was the youngest of five children and had four older sisters: Emma Eggud born 1906, Julia Eggud born 1908, Mary Eggud born 1910 and Wilhelmina Eggud born 1915. Growing up, nicknamed "Gabby".

By 1930, the family resided in Richmond, Staten Island. Eggud graduated high school. On October 16, 1940 at age 21 he registered for the draft and completed his Draft Registration Card that noted his height as 6' 1" and weight as 160 pounds with brown hair, brown eyes and ruddy complexion. At the time, his family lived at 92 Byrne Avenue, Richmond, Staten Island in New York. He was employed as a clerk for the Great American Indemnity Company at 1 Liberty Street, New York, NY (today Great American Insurance Group) and took the Staten Island ferry to Manhattan each weekday and back again.

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Wartime History
On March 13, 1942 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as a private with serial number 12052951. He attended preflight training at Kelly Field in Texas and became an aviation cadet.

On April 31, 1942 arrived at Cimarron Army Airfield for primary flight training and learned to fly the primary trainer PT-17 Stearman biplanes and was trained by civilian instructors from the Oklahoma Air College, Oklahoma City, OK. On July 31, 1942 arrived Waco Waco Army Airfield and continued flight training in the BT-13 Valiant.

On September 17, 1942 Gabriel J. Eggud married Mary "Betty" Elizabeth née Rerdon also of Staten Island, NY.

On October 10, 1942 he arrived at Brooks Field in Texas. During November 1942 attended the Advanced Flying School Gulf Coast Army Air Forces Training Center at Brooks Field as a member of Class 42-K dubbed the “Pearl Harbor” class because of the proximity of their graduation date to the one year anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In advanced training, he learned to fly the BT-13 Valiant and AT-6 Texan.

On January 14, 1943 commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with serial number O-669878 and earned his wings at Brook Field in Texas. On May 24, 1943 stationed at Walterboro Army Airfield in Walterboro, SC until June 5, 1943. On August 1, 1943 stationed at Thomasville Army Airfield near Thomasville, GA were he flew the P-39 Airacobra until September 22, 1943. Finally, he was stationed at Key Field in Meridian, Mississippi where he was assigned to the 21st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (21st TRS) as a replacement pilot until ordered overseas to a combat unit.

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During October 1943 his wife became pregnant with the couple's first and only child, Donna Gabrielle Eggud who would be born July 23, 1944 an orphan seventeen days after Eggud went missing.

During December 1943 sent overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group (71st TRG), 110th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (110th TRS). He served as a fighter pilot flying the P-39 Airacobra on armed reconnaissance missions in New Guinea. On April 20, 1944 promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant.

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Mission History
On July 6, 1944 took off from Tadji Airfield piloting P-39N "Blazing Blonde" 42-18813 armed with a bomb on an armed reconnaissance mission to bomb and strafe Japanese targets troop concentrations, supply routes and artillery positions between Suain to Wewak on the north coast of New Guinea. While making a dive bombing attack from approximately 110', his bomb either exploded prematurely or his plane was too low and caught in the explosion that blew off both wings and caused the plane to crash. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Wreckage
In fact, this P-39 crashed at Banak on the north coast of New Guinea. Today, the crash site is located near the village water supply. As of 2005, the crash site includes the tail section, propeller hub, main landing gear legs and a few other pieces of wreckage. Nearby is a single machine gun and the 37mm cannon.

Justin Taylan visited the crash site in 2005:
"According to local memory, this aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire over Kairiru Island and flew smoking and on fire to the coast of New Guinea then crashed at this location. This Airacobra has a Aeroproducts hydraulic propeller, indicating it was either a P-39F, P-39K-1, P-39N or P-39Q model."

On May 1, 2019 an Investigation Team (IT) from Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) conducted interviews and dug a test pit and screened soil at the crash site. Between August 13, 2019 until September 17, 2019 a Recovery Team (RT) from Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) conducted an archaeological survey and excavation at the crash site. They recovered human remains including teeth, material evidence, life-support equipment, and diagnostic and non-diagnostic aircraft wreckage including cockpit plexiglass, a rudder pedal, a cockpit door handle, a brake control unit and instrument panel components. Afterwards, all evidence was sent to the DPAA Laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) for identification.

On September 17, 2020 the Department of Defense (DoD) announced the identification of Eggud. To identify his remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, material and circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES) used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

Memorials
Eggud was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He was declared non-recoverable on September 20, 1949. Eggud is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. After his identification, a rosette was added next to his name indicating he was accounted-for. On September 16, 2022 Eggud will be laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in section 60.

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Awards
Eggud earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also earned the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 1 bronze service star, World War II victory medal and Honorable Service Lapel Button for World War II.

Relatives
Gabriel Eggud born 1878 (father)
Lydia Eggud born 1886 died September 21, 1954 (mother)
Emma Eggud born 1906 (sister)
Julia Eggud born 1908 (sister)
Mary Eggud born 1910 (sister)
Wilhelmina Eggud born 1915 (sister)
Mary "Betty" Elizabeth (née Reardon) Eggud / Johnston born 1921 died 1986 (wife)
Donna Gabrielle (née Eggud) McLean born July 23, 1944 died June 25, 2015 (daughter)
Tracey McLean (granddaughter)

References
Pacific Wrecks - P-39N "Blazing Blonde" 42-18813
NARA 1930 United States Federal Census, New York, Richmond, Richmond Borough, 43-301, Sheet 4A, line 43- Gabriel Eggud age 11
NARA WWII Draft Registration Card - Gabriel J. Eggud
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Gabriel J. Eggud
Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) - Gabriel J. Eggud
Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) - Gabriel J. Eggud
The Observer Class 42-K (Brooks Field Yearbook, November 1942)
NARA WWII Honor List of Dead and Missing - New York page 117 - Gabriel J. Eggud
New York State Military Museum - World War II Honor List - Gabriel J. Eggud
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Gabriel J. Eggud
FindAGrave - 1Lt Gabriel J Eggud (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
110th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, July 1944 page 2
"B. Narrative Report on Combat Operations... Our squadron lost two planes carrying the pilots with them… 1st Lieut. Gabriel J. Eggud, flying the other lost plane was last seen crashing after dropping his bomb two [sic too] low, thereby coming under the full weight of the explosion."
5th Air Force Statistical Summary - July 1944 - P-39N Airacobra 42-18813
"Bomb exploded immediately on release. Complete Loss. Pilot killed."
Staten Island Advance "Salute to the Services" circa 1944
Staten Island Advance "Army Pilot Is Killed in South Pacific" July 1944
Air Force magazine "Gabby" Vol. 31 No. 6 (June 1948) page 46
"'Gabby': As a member of the Air Force Ass'n [USAF Association], I wonder if any of the members could help me with some information I have been seeking for the last three years. It is in reference to my brother who was assumed killed in action over New Guinea in July, 1944, when a bomb exploded prematurely in his plane. I would be grateful for any aid in contacting anyone who knew my brother. He was Lt. Gabriel J. Eggud, 110 Recon (F) Squadron, 71 Recon (F) Group. His nickname was 'Gabby', Wilhelmina Eggud, 565 Oakland Ave., Staten Island, 10, N.Y."
Staten Island Advance "Our salute to hundreds of Staten Island service personnel who died for their country" May 30, 2005
Rocky Boyer's War: An Unvarnished History of the Air Blitz that Won the War in the Southwest Pacific (2017) by Allen D. Boyer pages 253 (Eggud loss), 417 (index)
DPAA News Release 20-102 "Pilot Accounted For From World War II (Eggud, G.)" released September 22, 2020, updated October 5, 2021
DPAA Personnel Profile - 1st Lt Gabriel J. Eggud
WIVB4 "Remains of NY veteran killed in WWII identified" October 5, 2021
Times Union "After 78 years, a World War II pilot’s journey is complete" by Chris Carola September 16, 2022
DC News Now "Soldier who died in World War II finally laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery" by Dave Leval September 17, 2022
SILive "Staten Island WWII pilot laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery 78 years after his death" by Gracelyn Santos September 23, 2022
Thanks to Tracey McLean for additional information

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