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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 Pinkstaff’s 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.

Michael 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!

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Maggart receiving wings December 12, 1941 at Ellingon Field, TX

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Charles L. Maggart, New Guinea - February 1942

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Maggart "someplace in New Guinea 1942"

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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.

Combat Missions
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 Middlebrook

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 sortie.

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 primary ships.

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 CALDERON 3801344
- 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.

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