|Pilot 1st Lt. James L. Nollkamper (survived)
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Hector F. Unger Jr. (survived)
Radio Sgt Ben A. Korzinski, 13131115 (survived) PA
Chief Sgt Foster Jowers (survived) TX
Force Landed December 1, 1943
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 9521. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 317t Troop Carrier Group, 46th Troop Carrier Squadron on June 21, 1942 as a replacement aircraft. Australian call sign VH-CGX. Nose number 85. Nicknamed "The Amazon" with the nose art of a reclining nude woman painted on the left side of the nose. This C-47 flew cargo missions during June to September 1943.
On December 1, 1943 took off from Garbutt Field near Townsville on a flight bound for Port Moresby. To the west of the destination, both engines failed at 4,000' and the aircraft force landed
in swamp near Galley Reach and the Vanapa River. The entire crew survived the crash landing unhurt.
Fates of the Crew
The entire crew survived the crash landing unhurt and waited overnight at the C-47 for rescue.
On December 2, 1943 a rescue party led by medical
officer Flt Lt John
Shelton departed from Port Moresby aboard an Australian launch from 45 OBU Marine Section. The rescue party proceeded up the Vanapa River then traveled through high kunai grass before eventually locating the crew and led them back to the launch and transported them to Port Moresby.
Fates of the Crew
Afterwards, Ben A. Korzinski was promoted to Staff Sergent. On September 25, 1944 he was flying as radio operator aboard C-47A Dakota 42-93499 that went Missing In Action (MIA) . He was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). He was officially declared dead on April 3, 1946 and is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery and earned the Purple Heart. Also, he has a memorial marker at Arlington National Cemetery in memorial section H.
James Nollkamper served in World War II, the Korea War and the Vietnam War and retired as a Colonel. He passed away on April 17, 1994 and is buried at Fort Worden Military Cemetery in Port Townsend, WA.
Hector Unger retired from the USAF as a Major. He passed away December 19, 2003. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 69, site 3592 .
Foster Jowers earned the Air Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters during World War II. He died on April 11, 1972 after a fall from a railroad trestle on a island in Town Lake in Austin, TX. He never married and had no children. He is buried at Resthaven Cemetery in Brady, TX at plot D grave 65.
The wreckage of this C-47 remains in situ in a mangrove swamp area near the Vanapa River. The fuselage door was missing, possibly removed during the war.
Justin Taylan adds:
"I learned about this wreck from John
Douglas, and had to see it. Its
one of the most impressive C-47 wrecks left today. The area
where the wreck is located is so remote and difficult, its hard to
believe how the crew were able to be rescued, I am sure there is
more to the story. Even getting there today we had a very difficult
walk and journey down rivers to finally reach it. The instrument panel was made of plywood, not metal."
Until the late 2000's the aircraft remained in excellent condition. During 2010-2015, local people removed or damaged the cockpit instruments, radios and removed both engine cowls. Likely, the aluminum pieces were removed for scrap metal. Sometime between April-September 2015, the nose section was removed from the crash site and transported to a nearby fishing camp for unknown reasons.
Are you a relative
of this crew? Contact
Egan Fowler (relative of Foster Jowers)
Air Sea Rescues - Moresby Area extracts from No. 74 wing file 908/1/P1 taken a Port Moresby on 4th December 1944 page 2 lists the crew as Lt. Knolikamper (sic), Lt. Unger, Sgt Jowers, Sgt Korynski [sic]
Marine Section - Port Moresby Area notes on conversation with O. C. F/O J. Wilcox and FSgt A. Smelt at Moresby on December 7, 1944, pages 1-2
"One of the hardest rescues they did was the Vanapa River one, when four members of a Douglas aircraft which had been forced down were located."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - C-47 Dakota 42-23659
Allied Air Transport Operations South West Pacific Area in WWII Volume 2, page 15. 144, 407-411
FindAGrave - James L Nollkamper (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Hector Frank Unger, Jr.
Foster Howard Jowers (grave photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Ben A Korzinski (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Benjamin A. Korzinski (Arlington memorial marker)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ben A. Korzinski
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February 4, 2018