|Pilot 1st Lt. Doyle J. Dean, O-737018 (MIA / KIA / BR) MI
Gunner S/Sgt William P. Thibadeau, 36228776 (MIA / KIA) WI
Crashed July 14, 1944
Built at Douglas. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA).
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 417th Bombardment Group. On March 20, 1944 assigned to the 312th Bombardment Group, 389th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. Tail letter D. Assigned to pilot 1st Lt. Doyle J. Dean with crew chief Butler. When lost, engine and weapon serial numbers were not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 16212 (MACR 16212).
On July 13, 1944 took off from Hollanida Airfield at 3pm on flight to Mokmer Drome on Biak to stage for a combat mission the next day.
On July 14, 1944 took off from Mokmer Drome on Biak at 9:30am piloted by 1st Lt. Doyle J. Dean on a low level mission against the oil refineries at Boela on Ceram. Over the target, hit by anti-aircraft fire, burst into flames and crashed and burned near the target. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
Ed Hambleton recalls:
"My wingman was lost to ground fire, Lt. Doyle J. Dean."
This A-20 crashed near a gun battery. After the crash, the remains of one of the crew were buried by the Japanese and makred with a cross inscribed "Unknown soldier died July 1944".
Recovery of Remains
On August 19, 1946
a RAAF Searcher Team led by Ft Lt Belcher visited the crash site and exhumed the grave and transported the remains recovered to Ambon for permanent burial.
Both crew members were declared dead the day of the mission. Postwar, the remains of Dean were recovered and are buried at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl). Dean at Plot Q Row 1 Grave 8. Thibadeau is still listed as missing and is memorialized on the tablets of the missing. Thibadeau also has a memorial marker at Riverside Cemetery in Oshkosh, WI at plot St. Peter Section, Block 1
Missing Air Crew Report 16212 (MACR 16212) was created retroactively or postwar
Missing Air Crew Report 11060 (MACR 11060) pages 14-17 details the remains recovery for this aircraft
Page 14: Australian War Graves Unit Ambon Paren For Flight Officer Lt. Belcher RAAF Searcher Officer Paren August 30, 1946
Page 16: "[August 19, 1946] Next we went to the site of the crashed plane below the battery, this was a crashed American Douglas A20, the plane was identified as such by the star on the wing and the number plates (enclosed). A grave about 20 meters from the wreckage was marked with a cross inscribed 'Unknown soldier died July 1944'. This grave and the remains of one body only was recovered, th dental state was good and if the dental charts of the crew of this A-20 can be obtained from the American Personnel Research Section, identity may be established. A thorough search was made of the ground near the wreckage but no other grave was located."
Rampage of the Roarin' 20's pages 151, 349, 365
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William P. Thibadeau
FindAGrave - 1Lt Doyle J Dean (grave photo)
SSgt William P Thibadeau, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - William Thibadeau (memorial marker)
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September 27, 2017