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  C-47-DL "Dumbo" Serial Number 41-18568 Nose 54
5th AF
317th TCG
41st TCS

Former Assignments
317th TCG
40th TCS

374th TCG
6th TCS

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D Pennefather 1985

Pilot  1st Lt. Henry C. Ellis, O-888627 (KIA, BR) TX
Co-Pilot  1st Lt. Franklin P. Miller, O-425589 (KIA, BR) NM
Crew Chief  Sgt Michael E. Anderchak, 13041101 (KIA, BR)
Radio  Sgt John J. Budarek, Jr., 37186768 (KIA, BR)
Cpl Filmer F. Heikkila, 37186768 310th Fighter Squadron (KIA, BR)
Passenger  TSgt Kenneth C. Spohn, 17031692 310th Fighter Squadron (KIA, BR)
Passenger  Sgt Robert W. Thomas, 18004801 310th Fighter Squadron (KIA, BR) OK

Crashed  April 1, 1944
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 4693. Delivered to the U.S. Army on September 6, 1942. Ferried overseas to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 374th Troop Carrier Group, 6th Troop Carrier Squadron on October 9, 1942. Assigned Australian call sign VH-CFE. Nicknamed "Dumbo" with nose number 54.

On November 5, 1942 took off from 5-Mile Drome (Wards Drome) near Port Moresby at 10:50am piloted by 2nd Lt Earl B. Lattier with two other aircraft: C-47 41-18498 (VH-CFB) and C-47 "The Broadway Limited" 41-38615 on a mission was to drop supplies to US Army 32nd Infantry Division, 126th Infantry Regiment crossing the Owen Stanley Mountains along the Kapa Kapa Trail near Bofu.

Later, assigned to the 317th Troop Carrier Group, 40th Troop Carrier Squadron. During May 1943, this C-47 flew 205.10 hours, flying 121,880 pounds of cargo and 392 passengers. During June 1943 flew 121.40 hours and had six engine changes while in service.

On October 27, 1943 assigned to the 41st Troop Carrier Squadron as a replacement aircraft. During December 1943, flown 84.35 hours. During January 1944 flown 116.30 hours.

Mission History
On April 1, 1944 took off from Doubodura with a load of cargo including a jeep. Crashed roughly five miles off Dobodura Airfield #7 (Girua Airfield) near Popondetta.

Recovery of Remains
During 1944, remains of the crew were recovered. In 1961 additional remains were recovered.

Wreckage includes a crumpled tail section, and the body of a jeep. During the 2000's local people claimed this aircraft has gold bars or other treasure aboard it. Such claims are false.

David Pennefather recalls:
"Crashed about 7km southwest of Girua Airfield. The wreck has remains of jeeps in it."

The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission.

Three are buried at Manila American Cemetery. Ellis at Plot A Row 5 Grave 185. Miller at Plot H Row 4 Grave 107. Thomas at Plot A Row 7 Grave 58.
Three were transported to the United States for permanent burial.
Budarek is buried at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Cemetery (old) in Saint Louis, MO.
Heikkila is buried at Gilbert Cemetery in Gilbert, MN.
Spohn is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery at Plot: J, 954.

Port Moresby Tower Log notes this aircraft wreck
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - C-47 41-18568 (lists callsign as VH-CCM and nickname "The Broadway Ltd.)
Allied Air Transport Operations SWPA in WWII Volume 2 pages 273, 292-293, 338, 348, 351-352
Note, other sources list this aircraft's nickname as "Dumbo".
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Henry C. Ellis
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Franklin P. Miller
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert W. Thomas
FindAGrave - John Joseph Budarek, Jr (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Filmer F Heikkila (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Kenneth C Spohn (news article)

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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