|Pilot 2nd Lt. Thomas E. Freeman, O-672596 (MIA / KIA)
Gunner Cpl. Ralph A. McKendrick, 12198868 (MIA / KIA)
Crashed April 5, 1944 at 1:30pm
Built at Douglas. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-20G-30 Havoc serial number 43-9469. Disassembled and shipped across the Pacific to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 417th Bombardment Group. On March 20, 1944 assigned to the 312th Bombardment Group, 387th Bombardment Squadron. Tail letter unknown. No known nose art or nickname. When lost, engines R-2600-23 serial numbers (right) 43-103633 (left) 43-103610.
On April 5, 1944 took off from Gusap Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt. Thomas E. Freeman on mission against Hollandia. Returning from the mission, this A-20 was
observed to fall back from the formation, experiencing trouble with both engines, possibly fuel problems. Another A-20 piloted by Lt. Glen D. Benskin flew to accompany it, and observed no obvious combat damage, only puffs of vapor from both engines, possibly from Freeman trying to switch fuel selectors. Unexpectedly, the A-20 nosed over and crash into the jungle, near the Clay River, short of a
clearing and exploded on impact.
Crashed approximately 1330, at a location 175 miles from Gusap, Ruin Mountain area. Last seen by 1st Lt. Glen D. Benskin, who observed the crash, and saw no signs of life afterwards. Benskin noted: "After the ship hit I couldn't even find broken treetops, the aircraft simply disappeared without a trace." Later, two RAAF Boomerangs searched for this crash afterwards, without results.
Discovered by Australian Patrol officer in 1967, including bone fragments and the dog tag of Ralph McKendrick. At the time, the serial number of the aircraft, or type of aircraft was not identified.
Recovery of Remains
On November 12, 1967 a US Army team visited the crash site and recovered the remains of the crew.
Both crew members were officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, both crew were buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in a group burial at section 81 site 349.
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - A-20A Havoc 43-9469
Letter Embassy of the United States 6 June 1967 "Possible remains of Army Air Corps World War II crew member Ralph A. McKendrick, 12198868".
Rampage of the Roarin' 20's pages 93-94, 348, 358
Thanks to Bruce Hoy and Brian Bennett for additional information
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December 17, 2018