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  C-47A-20-DL "Windy City" Serial Number 42-23500  
5th AF
375th TCG
56th TCS

Pilot  1st Lt Gale J. Chase, O-677984 (MIA / KIA) Great Falls, MT
Co-Pilot   1st Lt Frank C. Gecan, O-800346 (MIA / KIA) Clairton, PA
Radio   S/Sgt Benton D. Campbell, 19087650 (MIA / KIA) Oakland, CA
Crew Chief  S/Sgt Joseph C. Draper, 15332843 (MIA / KIA) Reelsville, IN
Passenger  Cpl Everett F. Rogers, 12140460 (MIA / KIA) Westchester, NY
Passenger  Cpl Joseph J. Ransdell, 35794488 (MIA / KIA) Lexington, KY

Crashed   December 23, 1943
MACR  2081

Aircraft History
Built by Douglas. Assigned to the 375th Troop Carrier Group, 56th Troop Carrier Squadron. Nicknamed "Windy City". When lost, engines: R-1830-92 AAF Serial Numbers: 42-108126 and 43-99331.

Wartime History
On December 23, 1943 took off from North Borio Airstrip (Dobodura No. 15) at 2:51pm on a return flight bound for 5-Mile Drome (Wards Drome) near Port Moresby. This C-47 failed to arrive and was declared Missing In Action (MIA).

After being reported missing, aircraft flying on the same route were told to search for the missing plane and several aircraft search the mountains south of Kokoda with nil results. On January 12, 1944 the initial search was terminated.

During January 1944, the wreckage believed to be this C-47 was spotted at roughly 8 57' S 147 35 E in on the uppermost slopes of the Owen Stanley Mountains near the base of Mount Victoria. The wreckage was visible from the air and photographed.

A search party was organized to investigate the crash site after investigating another site on Mount Yule A team from U. S. Army Graves Registration (AGRS) lead by Burton E. Tator and included SSgt Thomas O. Miller. The party included Australian W/O Blencowe from the Australia New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) and native carriers were provided by ANGAU.

On March 1, 1944 the search team departed from Port Moresby on foot. In support of this effort, three separate aerial reconnaissance missions by C-47s photographed the wreckage which was reported to be relatively intact. Due to the difficult terrain the search party dispatched to survey the site failed to reach the location.

On March 25, 1944, equipment and rations were air dropped by C-47s of the 275th TGC to the village of Menari, where the team proceeded to Mount Victoria and faced very difficult terrain and were on the wrong ridge and found the site was inaccessible from the foot of the mountain reaching a 1,000' gap that was impassible, but reached 9,000' elevation on the mountain by March 31. Unable to proceed, the team terminated the search and return to Port Moresby.

Another recovery expedition was attempted some months later, but this also failed to reach the wreck, lying just above 10,000' altitude. The 5th Air Force decided to classify the human remains as non-recoverable, the case was closed, and the relatives were informed only that their kin were "Missing In Action".

Officially declared dead on the day of the mission and memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

"Windy City" still lies near the summit of Mt Victoria, its six crew are still awaiting recovery (it is near the wreckage of B-24D "Weezie" 42-41081.

During 2003, Keith Hopper and Justin Taylan met with the Ambassador Robert Fitts of the US Embassy in Port Moresby to discuss the case of this C-47. Today, the case of "Windy City" remains the quintessential example of a file which needs re-opening.

Robert Valentine Gecan (nephew of Gecan)
"He was awarded the distinguished flying cross months before the crash. One of his brothers Valentine (Val) Gecan past away a few years ago was a marine in the Pacific theater at the same time. I have heard many great stories about my uncle Frank. I would like to understand better why a mission has not been formed to get these men."

Note, possibly this C-47 was nicknamed "Windy City Kitty"
Missing Air Crew Report 2081 (MACR 2081)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - C-47 Dakota 42-23500
Thanks to Brian Bennett and Keith Hopper for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


Tech Info

8 57' S
147 35' E

6 Missing

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