|Pilot 2nd Lt. Lorenzo R. Gower, 20443085 (MIA / KIA) Nashville, TN
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Robert W. Wood, O-726057 317th TCG, 46th TCS (MIA / KIA) Miami, FL
Engineer Cpl Dominic P. Verdi, 13028681 (MIA / KIA) Philadelphia, PA
Radio Cpl James G. Hickman, 15074632 (MIA / KIA) Lake Milton, OH
Passenger Colonel John H. Brewer U. S. Army Signal Corps (MIA / KIA, BR) CT
Crashed May 12, 1943
Built by Douglas. Constructors number 6022. Delivered to the U. S. Army on November 6, 1942. When this C-47 arrived at Hamilton Field it had 25 hours of time. On December 14, 1942 ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force on January 5, 1943. Assigned to the 374th Troop Carrier Group on January 12, 1943. Assigned to the 46th Troop Carrier Squadron on January 24, 1943. No known nickname or nose art, possibly "Chattanooga Choo Choo". Nose number 76 painted in yellow.
On May 12, 1943 took off from Dobodura Airfield transporting freight bound for Port Moresby. Co-Pilot Wood was on detached service from the 317th TCG, 46th TCS. Also aboard was an undocumented passenger, Col. John Brewer boarded the flight, likely hitching a ride on the aircraft.
Over the Owen Stanley Mountains, this C-47 was last seen going under a cloud bank. When this C-47 failed to arrive it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
In fact, this C-47 crashed in the vicinity of Myola Lakes area. The 14 ACR mentions that "the plane has been identified by pictures taken by the 21 TCS", which would indicate that the wreckage was located, in a report dated May 16, 1943. However, a memo from Headquarters. Army Air Forces dated June 26, 1946 indicates the occupants were Missing In Action and officially declared dead as of May 13, 1944.
Brian Bennett adds:
"This aircraft has been found and partial remains and dog tag of Brewer found by a tourist and reported to the U. S. Embassy in Port Moresby. There was an initial IE sortie. I actually ended up at this site to do the aircraft identification but due to a serious helicopter problem at the time we had to abort but not before I identified the crash site as a C-47 and had photographed a nose number 76 in yellow block letters."
The entire crew was officially declared dead on May 13, 1944. The crew
is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. After the recovery of remains, Brewer was buried at
Arlington National Cemetery at section 8, site 128.
Missing Air Crew Report 15609 (MACR 15609)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lorenzo R. Gower
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert W. Wood
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Dominic P. Verdi
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James G. Hickman
FindAGrave - 2Lt Lorenzo Ragan Gower, Jr (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert W Wood (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Dominic P Verdi (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Corp James G Hickman (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Col John H Brewer (grave photos)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - C-47 41-18661
Allied Air Transport Operations Volume One page 51 (list Gower as a SSgt), 71 (lists loss over Oro Bay on a combat mission), 118, 381, 400
Thanks to Brian Bennett for additional information
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January 5, 2018