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  C-47A-65-DL Dakota Serial Number 42-100479 Number X166
USAAF
5th AF
375 TCG
57th TCS

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Bruce Fenstermaker 1987

Crew  2nd Lt. Thomas H. Fletcher, O-810641 (KIA) Marion, IN
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt Robert W. McDowell, O-721828 (KIA) Wooster, OH
Navigator  2nd Lt Carl F. Copeland, O-811318 (KIA) MA
Radio  Sgt Charlie A. Donnelly, 11117634 (KIA) Newton, MA
Engineer  T/Sgt James E. Wilson, 35677218 (KIA) Middletown, OH

Crashed  January 9, 1945 at 10:30am
MACR  11648

Aircraft History
Built by Douglas. Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 375th Troop Carrier Group, 57th Troop Carrier Squadron. No nose art or nickname. When lost, engines R-1330-92-41 serial number (left) CP 3578938 (right) R-41-1600.

Mission History
Took off from Boroke Airfield on Biak on a flight bound for Peleliu Airfield. Weather was a heavy overcast with a ceiling at 1,000'. Elsewhere, the sky was clear. After take off, this C-47 made a turn to the right instead of the left with the rest of the formation at 10:30am. C-47 piloted by Lt. Bingham tried to contact this aircraft by radio but got no reply.

Search
When this aircraft failed to arrive, other American aircraft were informed to search for this missing plane but failed to find any trace. Plus, Air-Sea Rescue plus C-47s from the 375th Troop Carrier Group searched for this aircraft.

Wreckage
On March 11, 1945, this C-47 was found in a swamp on the north side of Biak. The crash site was inaccessible aside from pack mules.

Recovery of Remains
The remains of all the crew were recovered and buried at Bosnek #1 Cemetery (USAAF) on March 12, 1945.

The remains of the three crew members were recovered in 1945 and two of which are buried at Manila American Cemetery.
McDowell plot F row 8 grave 66. Copeland plot A row 3 grave 171. Copeland plot A row 3 grave 171. Donnelly plot F row 3 grave 52.

Wreckage
Crashed after take off on Biak.

Bruce Fenstermaker visited the crash in 1987:
"From what I remember is - the 375th converted to C-46 aircraft late in 1944 but this aircraft, albeit war weary was not retired at Biak but was being still used. I believe this aircraft took off with two other aircraft from the group/squadron but rather than turning the direction of the other aircraft after take off, did not and for unknown reason crashed near the north west of Biak. A note on geography is that Biak is actually divided into two parts - Biak island to the S/W and Superior is the local reference to the N/W portion separated by a narrow isthmus. The crash site is located in the lower Biak area itself but to the N/W near the coast area - inland. I had gotten the MACR on this aircraft at about the same time as many others - about 1986 for future surveys of Biak itself. In 1987 I took a small  boat up around the N/E coast area of Biak stopping periodically to survey known /unknown/ unreported crash sites along the Biak coast. This crash site was an added Datum point to cross check the accuracy of the MACR report and location itself. The info was correct and it added to my experience of surveying and investigating sites. I also wanted to see if recoverability of remains was related to dynamic forces and destruction of the aircraft since the remains of the crew was recovered."

References
ABMC lists the crew members as one rank higher, possibly posthumous promotions

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

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