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|Pilot 2nd Lt Claude L. Dean, O-429921 (MIA / KIA July 30, 1942, BR) TX
Gunner Sgt Allan W. La Rocque, 6976689 (MIA / KIA July 30, 1942, BR)
Crashed July 29, 1942
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 822. On December 21, 1941 a Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-24-DE Dauntless at Savannah, GA. Next to McCellan Airfield between January 7, 1942 to January 29, 1942. On February 25 1942 assigned to "X" then disassembled and shipped to "Sumac" (Australia) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 8th Bombardment Squadron. Assigned to pilot Holcombe. No known nickname or nose art.
Inbound to the target, one A-24 aborted the mission, and the remaining seven A-24s proceeded to the north coast of New Guinea to bomb Japanese transports roughly twenty miles north of Gona, 1 1/4 miles offshore.
As they started their dive bombing runs, A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai escorting the convoy intercepted the formation. The A-24s dive-bombed in two waves. The first wave: A-24 41-15797 (shot down), A-24 piloted by Hill (heavily damaged and force landed at Fall River) and A-24 piloted by Raymond Wilkins (the only aircraft to return to 7-Mile). The second wave of four aircraft: A-24 41-15819, A-24 41-15766, A-24 piloted by Cassels and A-24 piloted by Parker were all shot down.
This aircraft was damaged and both crew members bailed out and landed safely.
Fates of the Crew
3rd Bombardment Group, Headquarters reported a radio message from the survivors on July 30, 1942:
3rd Bombardment Group Headquarters reported a radio message from the survivors:
The group of Australians and Americans attempted to bypass the Japanese and reach safety. On August 2, 1942 they were joined by Reverend James Benson and two sisters from the Gona Mission Station. The group was on the run until August 8, 1942 when the group was ambushed by the Japanese and all killed or executed. Only Reverend James Benson was taken prisoner and survived the war.
Dean also has a memorial marker at Kaufman Cemetery in Kaufman, TX.
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