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|Pilot 1st Lt George C. Bennett, O-018299 (MIA / KIA) FL
MIA September 9, 1943
Built by Vought. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F4U-1 Corsair bureau number 02552. Disassembled and shipped to the South Pacific (SOPAC) and reassembled.
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC), 1st Marine Air Wing (MAW-1), Marine Air Group 12 (MAG-12), Marine Fighting Squadron 213 "Hell Hawks" VMF-213. No known nickname or markings.
On September 9, 1943 at 7:30am took off from Fighter 1 on Gaudalcanal piloted by 1st Lt George C. Bennett as one of sixteen Corsairs for intermediate cover for B-24 Liberators. Bennett was flying in the no. 3 position as part of 4th division led by 1st Lt. Arthur R. Boag. Inbound, two of the VMF-213 Corsairs aborted the mission due to engine trouble. Also escorting were sixteen Hellcats from VF-33 for high altitude cover plus P-40s and P-39s providing close cover.
At 8:55am the escorting fighters rendezvoused with eighteen B-24 Liberators at 18,000' over Visu Visu Point on the northern tip of New Georgia. Together, the formation proceeded northward up the slot between Choiseul and Vella La Vella northward toward Kahili Airfield on Bougainville before the formation turned left to make the bomb run from north to south. The B-24s were able to release their bombs from 20,000' over Kahili Airfield without enemy interference. Afterwards, heavy anti-aircraft fire targeted the bombers and Zeros intercepted, but only one pressed an attack.
Returning while over the channel between the northern tip of Vella La Vella and Bambatana on Choiseul, a single Zero dove in from above and attacked from the rear of Bennett's Corsair and pulled off to the right but was hit by gunfire and emitted smoke when last seen headed towards the eastern shore of Vella La Vella and appeared to be under control. Afterwards, Lt. Boag and Lt. Groom opened fire on the attacking Zero from the rear and shot it down, observing it to crash into the sea with the aerial victory shared between them as 1/2 credit. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Bennett was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. Bennett is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Navy Serial Number Search Results - F4U-1 Corsair 02552
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List September 1943 F6F-3 Hellcat 02552 pilot G. C. Bennett
NARA "VMF-213 War Diary September 1943" pages 5-6
(Page 4) September 9, 1943: At Guadalcanal... Lt. G. C. Bennett - Missing In Action.
(Page 5) "...a lone Zero dove from above and the rear on the tail of Lt. Bennett's plane. (Bennett was the number three man in Boag's division). He pulled off to the right away from the Zero but unfortunately had received hits from the Zero and his plane was giving off smoke when last seen. He was last seen heading towards the eastern shoreline of Vella Lavella, his plane apparently under control."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George C. Bennett
FindAGrave - 1Lt George C Bennett (photos, tablets of the missing)
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