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  F4U-1 Corsair Bureau Number 02338  
USMC
VMF-213

Pilot  Captain Theron H. Brown, III, O-013574 (MIA / KIA) Flushing, NY
MIA  September 12, 1943


Aircraft History
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.

Wartime History
Assigned to the United States Marine Corps (USMC) to squadron VMF-213 "Hell Hawks". No known nickname, nose art or squadron number.

Mission History
On September 12, 1943 one of four F4U Corsairs led by Cupp that took off from Munda Airfield on New Georgia at 4:44pm piloted by Captain Theron H. Brown, III. The Corsairs were scheduled to rendezvous with a formation of sixteen B-25 Mitchells on a search mission to locate and bomb enemy transports over Visu Visu Point but due to difficulty starting some of the Corsairs, they arrived late and failed to locate the bombers.

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).

Memorials
Brown was officially declared dead September 13, 1944. He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. Brown is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

References
NARA Marine Fighting Squadron 213 War Diary for September 1943 pages 2, 7-8
(Page 2) "Capt. T. H. Brown Missing In Action 1 F4U"
(Page 7) "About five miles north of the Shortlands when about 1000 ft, Brown's plane nosed over and crashed about midway between Komaliar Point and Moila Point. The others, of the division, circled the spot where Browns plane crashed but saw nothing."
(Page 8) "Capt. T. H. Brown - hit by AA and crashed into water; lost in action."
Navy Serial Number Search Results - F4U-1 Corsair 02338
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List September 1943 - F4U Corsair 02338
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Theron H. Brown III
FindAGrave - Capt Theron H Brown, III (tablets of the missing)

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

Tech Info
F4U

MIA
MIA
1 Missing

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