Carl R. Thien 1943
|Pilot 1st Lt Enoch P. Burley, O-66496 (KIA) Drumright, OK
Co-Pilot 1st Lt James F. Miles, O-66508 (KIA) Midland, TX
Crew Chief T/Sgt Edward R. Bering, 682536 (KIA)
Radio Pvt John Kvaka, Jr., 13057826 (KIA) Polom, Czechoslovakia
Passenger Captain Robert C. Heller, 39th FS Dental Officer (WIA / KIA)
Passenger Cpl Virgil H. Dockery, 14078341 39th FS, Dental Assistant
(KIA) Davidson County, TN
Crashed August 15, 1943
Built by Douglas at a cost of $97,497.00 completed on August 18, 1943. Delivered to the U. S. Army on November 28, 1942. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia arriving on January 9, 1943.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 374th Troop Carrier Group, 21st Troop Carrier Squadron. Nicknamed "Liliane". This aircraft was used to transport U. S. Army Lt. General Eichelberger from New Guinea to Rockhampton Airfield at the conclusion of the Papuan Campaign.
On August 15, 1943 took off from Port Moresby with personnel of the 35th Fighter Command Squadron and 39th Fighter Squadron. While in the traffic pattern for Tsili Tsili Airfield, it was shot down in the Tsili Tsili area by Ki-43 Oscar led by Shigeo Nango of the 59th Sentai. Also lost is C-47 41-18668.
In the initial attack, the aircraft was set on fire, and passenger Dockery was seriously wounded in the shoulder. Attacked a second time, the pilot was killed. The pilot attempted to crash land between trees, and crashed near Tsili Tsili.
Australian troops reached the crash site about an hour later. They found Robert Heller alive, and he had sustained injuries to both legs. He was thrown clear of the wreckage when its fuel tanks exploded. He was taken to Tsili Tsili, where he was evacuated back to Port Moresby. Two hours after being admitted to the hospital there, he died.
The entire crew is officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, the crew were transported to the United State for permanent burial.
Burley was buried at Fayetteville National Cemetery at Fayetteville, AR at plot 18, grave 71.
Miles was buried at Resthaven Memorial Park in Midland, TX.
Kvaka was buried at Grandview Cemetery in Monessen, PA.
Dockery is buried at Manila American Cemetery at plot D, row 9, grave 188.
The burials of Heller and Bering are unknown, likely both are buried in private cemeteries in their hometowns.
No Missing Air Crew Report was generated for this aircraft
References to this C-47 is listed in Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 14358 related to C-47 41-18668 which contains that was lost on the same date.
35th Fighter Group "Historical Resume" page 5 via Carlos Dannacher
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - C-47 41-18682
Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937-45, page 6
Allied Air Transport Operations SWPA in WWII Vol 2, page 11, 51, 72, 79
FindAGrave - Enoch Paul Burley (photos, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut James E Miles (grave photo)
FindAGrave - John Kvaka (grave photo)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Virgil H. Dockery
FindAGrave - Corp Virgil Holland Dockery (photo, grave photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional crew details
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January 5, 2016