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  F4U-4 Corsair Bureau Number 81095  
USN 1944

Pilot  2nd Lt. John F. McGrath, O-037237 (MIA / KIA) Troy, NY
MIA  July 21, 1945 at 2:35pm

Aircraft History
Built by Vought. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F4U-1 Corsair bureau number 81095. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific.

Wartime History
Assigned to the United States Marine Corps (USMC), Marine Air Wing 2 (MAW-2), Marine Air Group 21 (MAG-21) to Marine Fighting Squadron 212 (VMF 212) "Hell Hounds / The Musketeers". No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On July 21, 1945 took off from Kadena Airfield on Okinawa piloted by 2nd Lt. John F. McGrath armed with rockets on a ground attack mission over Iriomote Jima. The formation was included 24 Corsairs including twelve from VMF-212 led by C. O. Major John P. McMahon plus a a dozen from VMF-223.

The primary target was Sonai where a small chemical plant and administrative center were hit by 59 rockets and thoroughly strafed, without any observed result. Other targets included Hatoma Jima and Kobama Jima.

Over Sonai, this aircraft was seen in a rocket dive and observed to crash into the sea several hundred yards southwest of the town at 2:35pm. The cause of the crash was unknown. When this aircraft failed to return, McGrath was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

Major John P. McMahon letter to McGrath's family after his loss:
"He [McGrath] was fourth of the division to go into a dive for the strike, and somehow he never came out of his dive. His plane was seen to crash and explode into the sea near the target. Enemy aircraft fire was encountered by other members on the strike, but the exact cause of his crash remains unknown. Lt McGrath's death was attributed to the explosion following the fatal crash. - Major John P. McMahon."

McGrath was officially declared dead on July 21, 1945. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with gold star, Air Medal with six gold stars and the Purple Heart, posthumously.

McGrath is memorialized on the courts of the missing at the Honolulu Memorial at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on court 4. He also has a memorial marker at Saint Agnes Cemetery in Menands, NY at section 4, plot 90.

Edward P. McGrath (father died 1951)
Mary C. McGrath (mother died 1951)
Edward "Ned" P. McGrath, Jr. (brother died)
William Paul McGrath (brother died 1999)
Harold McGrath (brother)
Francis Mcrath (brother, died age 10 of T.B.)

Catherine McGrath Cox (sister of McGrath died 2002)
Robert F. Cox (nephew of McGrath died 2006)
Ann Cox (niece in law of McGrath died 2015)
John J. Cox (great-nephew of McGrath)
David M. Cox (great-nephew of McGrath)

Mary McGrath Law Dufresne (sister of McGrath died 2006)
Kathryn Kay (Roy) Wright (niece of McGrath)
Barbara (Joe) Healey (niece of McGrath)
John Law (nephew of McGrath)
Linda Law (niece of McGrath)
Christine (Edward) Ostrander (niece of McGrath)
Margie (David Perilstein) Law (niece of McGrath)

Michael McAlonie (son of Howard McAlonie who was a friend of John McGrath adds):
"My father attended and graduated Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) as a mechanical engineer, and was a USN Seabee veteran of the Battle of Iwo Jima. RPI Professor Halloran was my father Howard McAlonie’s first cousin as my grandmother was a Halloran as well. The MIA/ KIA individual I am researching was his classmate at Catholic Central High School (CCHS) today RPI's West Hall and was not any direct relation to me. But I grew up listening to stories about him. I have some small amount of specific information on him and his loss July 21, 1945 a day after leaving Iwo Jima where he visited my father while returning from leave in Guam. He was a close friend of my fathers and his death stayed with my father his whole life. Another bit of information I though might be useful to you regarding the crash particulars that I noticed when just re-reading the letter sent home from the C. O. that I obtained from John McGrath’s niece-in-law after I located the McGrath's last remaining sister in Troy in 2002. That sister died two weeks later."

John F. McGrath - U. S. Marine Corps, F4U Corsair Pilot
NPRC Military Personnel Records - John F. McGrath
Navy Serial Number Search Results - F4U-4 Corsair 81095
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List July 1945 - F4U Corsair McGrath
War Diary - USMC Marine Fighting Squadron 212 - July 1-31, 1945
"21 July [1945] Sakishima Gunto Strike: Flight composition: Major McMahon and Lts. Duncan, Wortman, Stanton, Ellis, Gillespie, Mouzakis, McGrath, Sandbach, Petty, Lingenfelter, La Marre, Jernigan and Walsh.
Major McMahon led 24 Corsairs, 12 of which were furnished by VMF-223, in a rocket and strafing attack against various targets of opportunity on and in the vicinity of Iriomote Jima, Sakishima Gunto. Principal target was Sonai Town, site of a small chemical plant and administrative center of Iriomote Jima, which received 59 rockets and was thoroughly strafed. Planes also strafed and rocketed Hatoma Jima and Kobama Jima. No specific results from any of the attacks were observed.
... 2dLt. John F. McGrath, USMCR, was killed in action when his plane failed to pull out of a rocket dive and crashed into the water several hundred yards SW of Sonai Town at 1435. The cause was unknown, but the probability that it might have been due to AA fire is indicated by the fact that 2 pilots from VMF-223 returned with flak fragments imbedded [sic] in their planes. No pilots from either squadron at any time observed AA fire. The aircraft destroyed was F4U-4, bureau # 81095."
The Troy Record "1st Lt. John F. McGrath Troy Marine, Fighter Pilot, Died in Action" July 26, 1945, page 2
The Troy Record "Mother Receives Medals Awarded to Marine Flyer" January 16, 1950, page 11
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John F. McGrath
FindAGrave - 2Lt John F McGrath (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - John Francis McGrath (memorial marker photo)
Thanks to Kathryn Kay Wright, Christine Ostrander, John Law and Michael McAlonie for additional information.

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Last Updated
February 20, 2018


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