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  F4F-4 Wildcat Bureau Number 03534  
USMC
MAW-1
MAG-11
VMO-251


USMC postwar

Pilot  Captain David C. "Dave" Andre (survived) Lake Worth, FL
Crashed  December 23, 1942


Pilot History
David C. "Dave" Andre was born August 8, 1919 in Florida. He enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC). At the end of October 1942, 1st Lt. David C. Andre was assigned to VMF-211. During December 1942, he was assigned to squadron VMF-121.

Aircraft History
Built by Grumman as a model G-36 with manually operated folding wings. Delivered to the United States Navy (USN) as F4F-4 Wildcat bureau number 03534. Shipped overseas to the South Pacific.

Wartime History
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) to 1st Marine Air Wing (MAW-1), Marine Aircraft Group 11 (MAG-11) to squadron VMO-251. Possibly, this aircraft was assigned to VMF-121. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On December 23, 1942 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by Captain Andre on a mission over the New Georgia area. When it failed to return, Andre was listed as Missing In Action (MIA). In fact, he crash landed on a small island off New Georgia. Andre survived with injuries.

Wreckage
This Wildcat crashed onto a small island off New Georgia.

Fates of the Pilot
For his World War II service, Andre earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with a gold star,  Navy Commendation Medal with V Device and the Air Medal with five gold stars. On November 16, 1984 he earned the Purple Heart for wounds he sustained on December 23, 1942.

Memorials
Postwar, Andre remained in the U. S. Marine Corps and achieved the rank of Colonel. He had two children: Fred and Anne. He retired on August 8, 1979 and retired to New Bern, NC. Andre passed away on June 4, 2012. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 55 site 3492.

Relatives
Lorna Andre (wife)
Fred Meyer (son)
Anne Gunter (daughter)

References
Navy Serial Number Search Results - F4F Wildcat 03534
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List December 1942 F4F Wildcat 03534 VMO-251 Capt Andre
VMO-251 Grumman F4F-3, -3P, -4, -7 and SNJ Losses July 1942 - May 1943 page 3 [PDF]
Purple Heart Award Certificate - November 16, 1984
The Lord is my Shepherd by David C. Andre
FindAGrave - David C Andre
Legacy.com "Sun Journal - David C. Andre Obituary, June 6-9, 2012
"One of his most harrowing experiences was being shot down over Guadalcanal on December 21, 1943. After ditching his F4F Wildcat aircraft into the ocean, he swam about a mile to an island where he survived by collecting rainwater from palm leaves. On Christmas day 1943, he was rescued by natives who were dispatched by a local Australian coast watcher named Kennedy. The natives transported Dave in a dugout canoe to rendezvous with a US rescue plane. Dave was ultimately transported back to Efate Island to recover from malaria and the wounds he suffered in the attack. For his actions in World War II, Dave was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Gold Star, Purple Heart, Navy Commendation Medal with V Device and the Air Medal with 5 gold stars."
Pride of our Nation Newsletter Vol. 1 2007 "Needle In A Haystack" pages 4-5
"[Pati Hite: My] grandfather Julius rescued Colonel Andre after spotting his F4F Wildcat one morning on a small inhabitant island in the Western Province. “The first thing he saw was the airplane which was unusual because my grandfather paddled the waters since his childhood. He memorized every reefs and little passages, even the coconut trees and such. So, this airplane was out of the ordinary. It surely raised my grandfather’s curiosity. Thus, after spotting the U.S flag on the plane, he knew that if someone was shot down, he would have seen the remains inside the airplane or few meters from the airplane, unless that person is still alive and hiding somewhere. Therefore, by the time he saw Colonel Dave he was so weak. So, he helped him to his canoe, took coconut palms to cover him in case there’s a passing enemy scouting the damaged plane nearby.
Thanks to Anne Gunter and Donna Esposito for additional information.

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Last Updated
July 22, 2018

 

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