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  F4U-1 Corsair Bureau Number ?  
USMC
VMF-214

PacificWrecks.com
USMC Dec. 5, 1943

Pilot  1st Lt. Robert A. Alexander (KIA, BR) Davenport, IA
Crashed  September 30, 1943


Pilot History
Alexander was born in Davenport, Iowa. He enlisted in the U. S. Marine Cops (USMC) on April 23, 1942. Previously, he survived the force landing of F4U-1A Corsair 55828 on September 23, 1943.

Aircraft History
Built by Vought. Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) to squadron VMF-214 "Black Sheep". No known nickname or markings.

Mission History
On September 30, 1943 took off from Munda Airfield on New Georgia Island at 7:40am piloted by 1st Lt. Robert A. Alexander on a patrol mission. One of four Corsairs on the mission. After take off, the F4U Corsair piloted by John Bolt suffered an oxygen failure and aborted the mission and returned to base. The three remaining included this aircraft plus Corsiars piloted by Burney Tucker and Stan Bailey who continued the mission.

North of Kolombangara Island, the Corsairs spotted three ships, and swooped down to investigate. Tucker recognized them as friendly. In fact, the three vessels were PT-126, PT-124 and PT116. One of the PT Boats fired a recognition flare, and Alexander accidentally opened fire, hitting the stern of PT-126 whose gunners returned fire hitting this Corsair and causing it to crash.

Wreckage
This F4U crashed into crashed near Ropa Point on northern Kolombangara Island, hitting the jungle and exploding into a fireball.

Recovery of Remains
On December 5, 1943 a group of pilots from VMF-214 pilots: Major Gregory Boyington, Frank Walton, Doc Reames, and others took a PT boat to Kolombangara Island to search for Alexander's crash site and recover his remains. They found the crashed F4U and buried his remains at the site.

Afterwards, Frank Walton wrote to his wife:
"The plane [was] in a million pieces, and the boy, too, his bones huddled up in a pitifully small pile. We scooped out a shallow grave, laid his remains in there, painted his name on one blade of the propeller, and set it up as a headstone."

Memorials
Alexander was officially declared dead the day of the mission. On December 5, 1943 after his remains were recovered from the crash site he was buried on Kolombangara Island in a shallow grave marked with a propeller blade from his Corsair inscribed with "Bob Alexander - 1st LT. USMCR - Sept. 30, 1943".

Postwar, his remains were recovered and transported to the Philippines and processed by USAF Mausoleum, Manila # 1 then shipped to the United States. During 1948 he was permanent burial in Davenport Memorial Park Cemetery in Davenport, Iowa.

References
The Davenport Democrat and Leader "Grave" January 27, 1944
"Grave - The propeller blade of his demolished fighter plane (above) marks the burial ground of First Lieut. Robert A. Alexander, 22 (right), son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Alexander, 229 Hillcrest Avenue, Davenport on the shore of Kolombangara Island where his plane crashed Sept. 30, 1943. Lieut. Alexander, Marine Corps flier, was a member of of 'Boyington's Black Sheep' squadron, commanded by Major. Gregory Boyington, now listed as missing in action. The Davenport pilot, who enlisted in the Marine Corps April 23, 1942 went to the South Pacific in June 1943. (AP photo from Marine Corps.)"
FindAGrave - Robert Austin Alexander (grave photo)
The Black Sheep page 240-241, 290, 429

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Last Updated
February 21, 2018

 

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