|Pilot 1st Lt Charles C. Winnia, O-14324 (POW / MIA / KIA) CA
Crashed July 18, 1943
Built by Chance-Vought. Delivered to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) as F4U-1 Corsair bureau number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) to 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 July 18, 1943 at 7:35am took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by 1st Lt Charles C. Winnia as part of a three divisions of F4U Corsairs from VMF-213 on a mission to escort nine B-24 Liberators on a bombing mission against Kahilli Airfield on southern Bougainville.
Over the target at 23,000' the formation approached the target from the northeast. As the B-24s started their bomb run, approximately thirty A6M Zeros intercepted that attempted to lure the Corsairs away. This Corsair was not seen after initial contact was made. When this aircraft failed to return, Winnia was declared Missing In Action (MIA).
Fates of the Crew
In fact, Winnia was captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW). His ultimate fate is unknown. Likely, he was executed or otherwise died in captivity and remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost is F4U piloted by Hall (rescued). Winnia was the only pilot from VMF-213 known to be a prisoner of the Japanese.
Winnia was officially declared dead on January 10, 1946. He is memorialized at the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Winnia earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.
VMF-213 War Diary July 1943 pages 34-35
Charles C. Winnia Diary, July 18, 1943
War Diary VMF-213 October 1943 page 19 "Squadron Losses of Pilots and Planes - Lt. Winnia (PW) F4U"
"Mission to Kahilli well done –" [Believed to have been written by Lt. Alonzo B. Treffer] "Lt. Winnia lost in a dog fight over Kahili. Lt. 'Red' Hall went down Choiseul near Bougainville. Hall made a safe crash landing 5 Zeros strafed him. Only 11 pilots left.. [in VMF-213 as of this date]"
AAIR USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List July 1943 - F4U piloted by Winnia July 18, 1943 no bureau number listed
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles C. Winnia
FindAGrave - 1Lt Charles Casper Winnia, Jr (photos, NPR diary transcript, tablets of the missing)
Diary of Corsair Pilot in the Solomons, 1943 via Wayback Machine January 15, 2015
Diary of Corsair Pilot in the Solomons, 1943 - 17 June to 18 July via Wayback Machine January 2, 2009
National Public Radio (NPR) "A World War II Diary and Lost Love" March 3, 2004
Thanks to Alonzo B. Treffer family for additional information
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August 24, 2019