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  A-24 Dive Bomber Serial Number 41-15????  
USAAF
5th AF
3rd BG
8th BS

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Oliver Doan c1942

Aircraft History
Built by Douglas. Delivered to the U. S. Army on October 21, 1941 at Savannah, GA. Next to McCellan Airfield on January 7, 1942. Assigned to Project "X" on January 2, 1942. Disassembled on January 8, 1942 and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 3rd Bombardment Group, 8th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On July 29, 1942 one of eight A-24s that took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 2nd Lt John M. Hill with gunner Sgt Ralph Sam, 19013232 on a mission to dive bomb Japanese ships off Gona. They were escorted by P-39 Airacobras from the 41st Fighter Squadron flying top cover, and 8th Fighter Group, 80th Fighter Squadron P-39s flying close escort.

Inbound to the target, one A-24 aborted the mission, and seven remaining A-24s proceeded to bomb Japanese transports 20 miles north of Gona, 1 1/4 miles form shore. The convoy was protected by A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai which intercepted the A-24s as they started their dives.

The A-24s dive-bombed in two waves. The first wave: A-24 41-15797 (shot down), A-24 piloted by Hill (this aircraft) and A-24 piloted by Raymond Wilkins (the only aircraft to return to 7-Mile). The second wave: A-24 41-15819, A-24 41-15766, A-24 piloted by Cassels and A-24 piloted by Parker all four were shot down. The Kotoku Maru, was hit once at the No. 5 hatch by the second wave, forcing its troops to unload and leave its cargo undelivered. The Japanese ships all return to Lae.

A6M2 Zeros fired on this A-24 and damaged the tail and wounded rear gunner Sam's hand. Despite his wounds, he kept kept firing his rear gun then his 45 caliber pistol with the other hand at the attacking Zeros.

Afterwards, Hill diverted to the nearest Allied landing strip at Fall River Aerodrome near Milne Bay, in order to get immediate medical help for Sam. Although damaged, Hill landed safely. Sam was given medical treatment at Milne Bay for his severe wounds. He died of his wounds on August 4, 1942. The A-24's damaged tail wheel was repaired and Hill departed for 7-Mile Drome the next day.

The ultimate fate of this A-24 is unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.

Memorials
Sam was officially declared dead on August 4, 1942. Postwar, he was permanently buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at Plot E Row O Grave 896. All 8th BS pilots and gunners who participated in the bombing missions against Lae (April 7-13) received the Silver Star. He was the only member of the July 29, 1942 mission to be awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to his Silver Star. Also, the Purple Heart, posthumously. Ralph Sam was an American Indian from the Piaute tribe.

Relatives
Are you a relative of John Hill? He had two sons that entered the US military. Contact Us
Are you a relative of Ralph Sam Contact Us

References
FindAGrave - Sgt Ralph Sam (grave photo)

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Last Updated
January 31, 2018

 

Tech Info
A-24
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