Charles L. Maggart
Pilot of B-25C "The Happy Legend" 41-12907
by Phil E. Maggart (brother)
Demise of "The Happy Legend"
The aircraft was nicknamed "The Happy Legend"
but it had previously been named "Scat" . It was on a mission
to Buna on 5 December
1942 when it was lost. Australians found the crash in the Owen Stanley
Mountains in February of 1943. The bombs were still onboard which
indicated that they were possibly shot down. Wilson Pinkstaffs
remains were identified and Aubrey Atkin's identification tags were
found. The Japanese ground
forces were in the immediate area and the team had to terminate
the search for additional remains of the crew.
Claringbould, an Australian who is a World War II buff, was
very helpful after I forwarded an informative letter from Mike
Boccio. He was able to pin point the exact location of the crash
sight Michael forwarded the MIA report and some ancillary information
concerning the loss of Charles. Claringbould asked if I would like
the Central Identification Laboratory CILHI to
reopen the crash site and search further for remains, since the
crew is still listed as Missing In Action. Consent to this procedure
has been granted; however, after 60 years it doubtful that there
is anything to find.
|Charles Landon Maggart
This is a story of Charles Landon Maggart, contributed
by his brother, Philip Maggart. Charles Landon was name after both
of his grandfathers. In high school he had a 1937 Harley Davison
Motor Cycle and all the girls liked to ride with him. During summer
vacations and on weekends he worked for dad as a truck driver delivering
bread. The route that took other drivers normally all day to complete,
he was able to do in half a day. He was selected to be the quarterback
for the All Indiana Football Team; subsequently he won a scholarship
to both Indiana University and The University Of New Mexico. New
Mexico seemed intriguing, so off to Albuquerque he went in 1938 to
fulfill the scholarship requirements. While there he became a Sigma
Chi, and was involved in many social and academic endeavors. One
summer vacation mother received a call from Charles in San Francisco
wanting money to return to Indiana. Dad wanted to know how he got
out there and Charles answered, "Hitch
Hiked". Dad's response was a terse, "Hitch Hike Home".
Joining Army Air Corp
The winds of war seemed imminent in Europe
and he decided to return to Marion and attend the local Marion
College while taking flying lessons from a young black instructor
pilot named Jackson. After completing two years of college he applied
for pilot school with the Army Air Corps, being accepted April
5, 1941. He departed Indianapolis with Robert Sternburger from
Indianapolis for Parks Air College, St. Louis, Missouri. He completed
primary training in PT-13 aircraft, followed by advanced training
at Randolph Field, Texas where his leadership abilities gained
him the rank of Cadet Sergeant Major for the Cadet Battalion. (Mr.
Stern Burger was located January 21, 1999 in Hawaii, through an
ad in the Air Force magazine). The infamous day of Dec 7, 1941
found him ready to graduate from advanced flying school at Ellington
Field, Houston, Texas in Class of 41-I.
Marrage & Unit Assignment
While at Randolph he contacted food poisoning
where up on he was hospitalized for several days, finally being
nursed back to health by 2nd Lieutenant Yolanda Federico, sparking
a new romance. Before leaving Marion for pilot school he became
engaged to Eloise Toll, a high school sweetheart that was terminated
for his newfound girlfriend. (July 14, 2001, Eloise sent me several
pictures and a letter that he wrote to her from Randolph). He and
Yolanda Federico were finally married on graduation day and the
next day departed for Morrison Field, Florida for assignment to
the 49th Pursuit Group, 9th Pursuit Squadron. Upon completing fighter
upgrade training at Morrison Field, the pilots were issued first
aid kits, dated 1917. We were realy prepared!
Maggart receiving wings December 12, 1941 at Ellingon
Charles L. Maggart, New Guinea
- February 1942
Maggart "someplace in New Guinea 1942"
B-25C "Ole Cappy" Maggart
is leaning on the propeller, rest of crew is unknown
Advanced Training & Overseas
After two weeks of training in the P-40's the
Group was transferred to Melbourne, Australia. Japanese were marching
down New Guinea and were seriously threatening Australia. General
Douglas Macarthur was the Supreme Allied Commander and reorganized
the ground forces to regain a foothold in New Guinea. The P-39s were
of little use and consequently many of the pilots were transferred
into the 38th Bomb Group (Medium) flying B-25s.He was assigned initially
to the 38th Bomb Group Headquarters. Notice the Patch on his flying
jacket. This was the 38th Headquarters Logo. The 38th Bomb Group
departed California, April 1942 and flew across the Pacific Ocean
to Australia, Island hopping as much as possible.
Charles was assigned to the 71st Bomb Squadron
and later to the 405th as aircraft were destroyed, squadron integrity
was lost. He was engaged in the many major missions during his short
tour with the 38th Bomb Group; however, this cannot be verified as
his active duty records have never been located. Several attempts were
made through the Department of Army Records Personnel Center in Alexandria,
Va. and the Central Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Mo. The same
answer, "If the records were in the Center in 1973, they were
destroyed by a fire"
What Happened to Charles Maggart?
Information about the 38th Bomb Group organization
was obtained and through it I have been able to gain some factual data.
After becoming an associate member, an add was run in the Sun Setter
Magazine asking for assistance in this case. It was phenomenal the
number of responses that was received. The best lead came from Garrett
Middlebrook's book, "Combat at 20 Feet." A chapter is reproduced
that explains how Charles' aircraft was shot down. Garrett wrote to
me and gave his personal insight of what happened December 5,1942.
His account has been substantiated by subsequent accounts.
It was through the media of the Sun Setters Newsletter
that a great number of responses were received either through the telephone
or by letter. Many of the telephone responses were individuals who recalled
Charles but never new the actual circumstances as to how he was became
an MIA. My best lead was through Garrett Middlebrook's book. Chapter
Six is a short narrative of the actual events of the December 5 1942
raid as he remembered it. This account was consistent with a letter
received from Col. Isam Johnson He wrote two personal letters that also
reflected his anguish of losing two very close friends on that aircraft.
Excerpt from Combat at 20 Feet by Garrett
The Happy Legend
I flew a close support mission on the morning of December 5, 1942,
over Buna as a single ship and with no fighter protection. Although
I was authorized to drop my 500 pound bombs from 3000 feet, I
preferred to drop them from 1000 to insure against damage to our
own troops. I made three separate passes, dropping two bombs on
each pass. I received machine gun fire from the ground on each
The afternoon of the same day I was scheduled,
along with five other ships, to attack Lae. It was our policy
to prepare a standby ship and crew for a mission in the event
any of the primary ships had to abort the mission.
On that particular day Lieutenant Wilson L. Pinkstaff
was the pilot for the standby ship. (This is not consistent with
information furnished by Isham Johnson and the MACR). As was customary,
he taxied to the runway and checked out his engines as did the
I took off in number four position, but I knew
I had serious engine problems even before I became airborne. Pinkstaff
also became aware of my engine malfunction because I was trailing
a heavy stream of smoke.
I did not even attempt to join the formation.
Instead, I merely flew a square pattern at 800 feet and came back
to the runway to land. As I was on my base leg for landing, Pinkstaff
took off to fill my place in the formation.
He was shot down on the mission and, of course,
he perished along with all his crew. There were two more cruel
ironies connected with the event. Corporal Richard Grutza, who
flew the Pacific Ocean with me as my radioman and also flew
three missions with me, was aboard serving as lower gunner.
It was fashionable in
World War II for the pilot and crew to name their plane,
Usually the pilot ended up making the name selection and
that was true in my case. I named my plane "The Happy Legend". (Pinkstaff was flying "The
Happy Legend" the day he was shot down).
I selected an inappropriate name because there
was no happiness connected with Pinkstaff's loss, nor was there
anything of a legendary nature associated with the death of Pinkstaff
and his crew.
Their loss saddened
me, but even more, the ironies surrounding their deaths depressed
me. I could not sleep well that night because I was gripped
by the idea that they took my place and probably died in
my place. Thus, for a long time I found no happiness in recollecting
the events of that day. Eventually though, I assumed a commitment
to pay a tribute to my comrades who not only risked the ultimate
price, but also paid it. I knew of no appropriate manner,
which was in my power, to pay them tribute except to think
of Pinkstaff and Grutza often and to remember them as long
as I existed. That I have done, and since we all seek happiness
with great vigor while trying to avoid sadness with stubborn
tenacity, I remember them, however inconsistent, as the episode
of "The Happy Legend".
Missing In Action Report located by Mike Boccio:
T AMTZ CD,0517Z A/L ROUTINE BC1716 COBOMRONFOUR
ZERO FIVE, BOMBER THREE LIGHT FOLLOWINGMSG RECD COMADVONAF FIVE QUOTE
CRASHED BOMBER FOUND TODAY IN DENSE JUNGLE 2 ½-3 MILES WEST
MYLOLA PD APPARENTLY CARRING FULL BOMB LOAD WHEN CRASHED
COMPLETELY DESTROYED ONLY IDENTITIES ARE ASFOLLOWS PORTION OF
FUSELAGE BEARING NUMBER 907 YELLOW PAINT CARD WITH
NAME AUBREY LEE ATKINS JR ADDRESS PA BOX 55 ATHENS LOUISIANA POSTION
OF ONE BODY INCLUING RIBS AND LOWER SPINE ALSO FOUND PD
DISCOVERY MADE BY SIGMN H F PETERSON SIGS ONE AUST CORPS AND
L/CPL J MACDONALD ONE AUST CORPS SALVAGE UNQUOUTE MEMBER
THIS CREW WERE WILSON L. PINKSTAFF OR24664 CHAR4LES LMAGGERT O43O935
WILLIAM N STOCKING0434888 FRANK THOMPSON 0659607 AUBREY
L ATKINS 14054815 RICHARD P GRUTZA 16047009 ANTONIA P
- REPRODUCED BY HQ, 38TH BOMB GP(M), 5 FEBRUARY, 1943.
Attempts to Locate Additional Information
During the years of 1998, 99 , 00 and 01 DD Forms
180 were forwarded to the Central Personnel Center and the Department
of Army (Archives) with the standard answer. One last attempt was made
to run one more request through the sunsetter magazine. Pay dirt was
struck with a call from a Mike Boccia from Pensacola, Florida. His father
was an artist in New Guinea performing nose art on many of the aircraft
and he had visited the Achieves at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
and through a search the process he found some information concerning
MIA's where Charles' name was found.
Memorial in National Cemetery, Manila
I had written the Personnel Center one last request
of his active duty records and on July 2001, a package arrived from
them with limited information; but it did include the location as to
where his memorial is located (Manila Memorial Cemetert - tablets of the missing). Many of the
family members have visited Honolulu Memorial Cemetery and never discovered
his name on the list. The revelation was a shock as I have been to
Manila several times and was not aware of a National Cemetery in Manila.