Jose L. Holguin was born February 1, 1921 and grew up in Los Angeles. On December 17, 1941 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as an aviation cadet with serial number 19065910. After training, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with serial number O-728388.
Assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG) "Ken's Men" as a navigator flying bombing missions from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby.
On June 26, 1943 took off as navigator aboard B-17E "Naughty But Nice" 41-2430 on a night bombing mission over over Rabaul. Over the target, shot down by a night fighter and was the only member to exit the aircraft.
in his jaw and back he landed in the Bainings Mountains. Without food or medical treatment for weeks, he crawled in the jungle until located by native people who took him to their village and attempted to nurse him health. Because of his severe
the villagers decided to turn him over to the Japanese in hopes they would provide him proper medical care.
POW at Rabaul
On July 17, 1943 Holguin became a Prisoner Of War (POW)
1945. During that period he received no medical attention and lived
a brutal existence as a POW.
His epic ordeal
in a captivity
is expressed in a letter
he wrote as after the war to testify
about his captivity. As the sole survivor of his crew, Holguin made
his personal quest to find his fellow comrades and their crashed
After the war, he remained in the military and joined the U.S. Air Force (USAF). Between 1950–1952 assigned to the 93rd Bomb Wing (93rd BW) in England. During 1955, he and his air crew won the Strategic Air Command (SAC) "best crew" during a competition at March AFB, an achievement reported in TIME Magazine, September 1955. After retirement, he then began working as a teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District. In the early 1970s he earned his master degree and had administrator positions, including assistant principal at a public school in Los Angeles.
Trip To New Guinea
In the early 1980s he traveled at his own expense to Papua New Guinea, to search for the plane his comrades had died aboard. With the help of Brian Bennett and Bruce Hoy, he located the wreckage, and saw that the remains were recovered by US Army CILHI, and attended the memorials in the hometowns of several of the deceased crew members, including: Francis Peattie and Pace Payne. Afterwards, he continued to work in LA City Schools and had many meetings with Japanese veterans, including
his former POW guard.
Holguin passed away on March 22, 1994. He is buried at Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana CA at AH.
His son, Curt Holguin and his family maintain their father's friendships with the other members of the crew and those associated with the rediscovery of his B-17. His son, wife and two daughters visited Papua New Guinea and the "Naughty But Nice" crash site during August 2006.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Jose L. Holguin
Fold3 - Jose L Holguin
TIME Magazine, September 1955 SAC "best crew" including Holguin
FindAGrave - Jose L Holguin (photo, grave photos)
Hostages To Freedom (1995) by Peter Stone page 326 (Surviving Prisoners Of War - Seven Americans)
The Siege of Rabaul (1996) by Henry Sakaida page 94 (Rabaul's Military Prisoners - Holguin)