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|Pilot Captain Theron H. Brown, III, O-013574 (MIA / KIA) Flushing, NY
MIA September 12, 1943
Built by Vought. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F4U-1 Corsair Bureau Number 02338. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.
Assigned to the United States Marine Corps (USMC) to squadron VMF-213 "Hell Hawks". No known nickname, nose art or squadron number.
At 4:50pm, the Corsairs proceeded up the northern coast past Vella Lavella Island northward to southern Bougainville in hopes of locating the bombers but were unable to find them. The weather was very bad and visibility was poor. Clouds covered southern Bougainville but Kahili Airfield was clear.
Cupp decided to use the bad weather to provide cover for their approach and withdrawal to make a single strafing run over Kahili Airfield. Approaching from the north and flying at an altitude of only 50', they spotted approximately twenty parked fighters including several Ki-61 Tonys lined up on the side of the runway being serviced by trucks. Also a single G4M1 Betty parked about 1,000' from the beach. Japanese personnel were observed at the southern side of the runway possibly a galley for their evening meal.
At 4:45pm, the four Corsairs initiated a strafing run flying in a line from right to left: Cupp, Avery, Brown and Stewart. Cupp strafed the galley, anti-aircraft positions, a fuel truck, two fighters (Tonys) claiming one burst into flames and barges offshore. Avery strafed a fighter setting it on fire, then three trucks and anti-aircraft positions. Stuart strafed five fighters causing one to catch fire. Although no anti-aircraft fire was observed during the run, a heavy anti-aircraft gun was observed at the southwest end of the runway coming into action until strafed and at least one shell was observed hitting the water as they departed.
Flying southward, Brown radioed Cupp that he must have been hit as his oil pressure was dropping. Roughly five miles north of Shortland Island from an altitude of 1,000', Brown's Corsair nosed over and crashed into the sea roughly halfway between Komaliar Point and Moila Point on southern Bougainville.
Afterwards, the three Corsairs circled the spot where Brown crashed but saw not trace of him. When this aircraft failed to return, Brown was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
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