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|Pilot 2nd Lt. James M. Horton (survived)
Gunner SSgt Alphonse S. Rylko (survived)
Ditched April 12, 1944
Horton flew over the sea to the north of Vanimo with escorting P-38s behind him before his damaged engine lost power and sprayed oil. He believed he could reach Gusap Airfield on one engine, but the right engine began to deliver limited power.
Unable to climb to higher altitude to pass over the mountains back to base, he instead elected to ditch into the sea but offered his gunner the chance to bail out, but he declined in favor of ditching together to aid each other. This A-20 successfully ditched between 12-15' swells at a speed of roughly 110 mph and remained afloat for roughly 90 seconds before sinking. Both crew survived the ditching. Horton sustained a cut to his hand from broken perspex and was hit on the head by his life raft. Rylko injured his left shoulder.
Fates of the Crew
On April 13, 1944 during the morning, the pair saw another Catalina escorted by six P-38 Lightnings. Although they released their marker dye and signal mirrors, they were not spotted. Overnight, heavy rains and seas broke the sea anchor and required them to constantly bail water.
On April 14, 1944 the pair saw A-20, B-25s and P-38s flying westward and later a Catalina escorted by P-47s. Again, they failed to attract their attention likely due to bad visibility. In vain, Horton fired seven rounds from his pistol without results. Later, they were spotted by B-25s from the 345th Bombardment Group that radioed a Catalina to rescue them.
Later that same day, a U. S. Navy (USN) PBY-5 Catalina 08283 piloted by Lt(jg) Garrett from VP-34 arrived roughly 30 minutes later. After successfully landing, Horton and Rylko were rescued having drifted roughly 80 miles from where they had ditched. Before taking off, the Catalina jettisoned as much extra weight as possible in order to get airborne in the rough seas. After getting airborne, this Catalina flew to landing at Langemak Bay off Finschafen. Afterwards, both crew later returned to duty.
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