|Pilot 1st Lt. Robert H. Schwensen, O-662180 (MIA / KIA, BR) Witchita, KS
Lt. Henry W. Sherman, O-790598 (MIA / KIA, BR) NY
Engineer Cpl Emil W. Erickson, 37160734 (MIA / KIA, BR) MN
Radio Pvt Clifford J. "Bud" Fawn, 15076739 (MIA / KIA, BR) Lowis Center, OH
Trainee Gunner Pfc Edward G. Piekutowski, 36238257 (MIA / KIA, BR) MI
Crashed February 6, 1943
Built by Douglas. Constructor Number 6041. Assigned to the USAAF on November 17, 1942. Assigned to the 5th Air Force in Australia on January 9, 1943. Assigned to the 347th Troop Carrier Group, 33rd Troop Carrier Squadron. Nicknamed "Early Delivery". Australian call sign VH-CGN. Nose number 642.
On February 6, 1943 one of three C-47s led by Lt. George Wamsley that took off from 7-Mile Drome near
Port Moresby at 9:20am on a flight bound for Wau Airfield. Aboard was ammunition and equipment. Inbound, the flight experienced good weather.
Over Wau at 10:30am, the C-47s were preparing to land at Wau Airfield during a Japanese air raid by Ki-48 Lilys escorted by Ki-43 Oscars from the 11th Sentai. Spotted the C-47s were intercepted by the Oscars. Attempting to evade them, this C-47 overflew the Bulolo River and turned before crashing into the jungle the south of Wau. The other two C-47s managed to escape and returned to 7-Mile Drome. When this C-47 failed to return, the entire crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
Ernest Ford (33rd Troop Carrie Squadron):
"In October, 2002, I
met George Wamsley, former squadron leader of the 33rd TCS, 5th
about his left wingman,
1/Lt. Robert H. Schwensen in C- 47, 41-38658 "Early Delivery".
As Wamsley and his formation were in a holding pattern, waiting to
land at Wau, they were attacked by Zeros. Wamsley said, "One moment
Schwensen was there, the next he was gone." What happened next
was that Early Delivery made an emergency landing at Wau, just after
Ford and two other C47's. They landed as the field was bombed and a
Wirraway [A20-447] was destroyed. The C47's had to take off again immediately
and "Early Delivery" was shot down as it climbed away. Ford and the
two others kept low and survived, along with 87 Australian passengers."
During August 1988, the crash site was discovered by Grant Malensek a geologist working for CRA to prospect for gold around Wau. On the tail, Malemsek observed yellow serial number "1-38658" and reported the crash site to the U. S. authorities.
Recovery of Remains
On October 5, 1989, a team from US
Army CILHI arrived at the crash site and recovered the remains of the crew.
the crash site and recovered the remains of the crew.
Schwensen, Sherman and Piekutowski were officially declared dead on December 17, 1 945. All three are are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Erickson and Fawn are not listed
on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
After the recovery of remains, the crew were transported to the United States for permanent burial.
On August 8, 1989 Erickson, Fawn and Piekutowski were buried in a group burial at Arlington National Cemetery at section 34, grave 4892. Erickson is also memorialized at the Middle River Veterans Memorial in Middle River, MN.
On September 1, 1989 Schwensen was buried at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery at section 2, site 182.
On July 21, 1989 Sherman was buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 66, site 3444.
Merrill Joan Gerber (cousin of Henry Sherman)
"My cousin, the most beautiful soldier I
had ever seen, disappeared into thin air over a place called New Guinea." Read The Lost Airman: A Memoir by Merrill Joan Gerber
Missing Air Crew Report 16323 (MACR 16323)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert H. Schwensen
"1LT Schwensen's remains were recovered and interred at Fort Leavenworth, KS. His name is permanently inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Henry W. Sherman "Remains recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Edward G. Piekutowski "Remains Recovered"
FindAGrave - Lieut Robert H Schwensen (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Robert H. Schwensen (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Henry W Sherman (group burial photo) date of death incorrectly listed as Feb. 7, 1943
1Lt Henry W Sherman (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Corp Emil W. Erickson (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Cpl Emil W. Erickson (Middle River Veterans Memorial photo)
FindAGrave - Pvt Clifford J. Fawn (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - PFC Edward G Piekutowski (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - PFC Edward G. Piekutowski (group burial photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - C-47 Dakota 41-38658
Allied Air Transport Operations South West Pacific Area in WWII, Volume 2 pages 422 - 425
The Battle for Wau page 212-213, 216-222
Ki-43 'Oscar' Aces of World War 2 pages 75-76
The Lost Airman: A Memoir by Merrill Joan Gerber
AP "Geologist finds lost U. S. warplane, crew remains"
October 7, 1988
Thanks to Grant
Malensek and Phil Bradley for additional information
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January 5, 2018