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  F6F-3 Hellcat Bureau Number 41525  
USN
VF-20

Pilot  Ensign Harry N. Warnke, O-315341 (MIA / KIA) Gary, IN
MIA  June 15, 1944


Mission History
Took off from Barbers Point Naval Air Station with seven other planes to practice dive-bombing at Kapoho Point, Ohau, Hawaii. Crashed during training dive excercies. Two days later, his unit identified the site. A June 19, 1944 U. S. Pacific Fleet report said a "piece of left leg was buried at scene of crash."

Ted Darcy adds:
"Ran across the aircraft accident report in 1990 when I was finishing work on the F6F book. Took six tries to reach the site. We walked in, no helo. Nearest topographical feature is Puu Kawipoo. It was a six hour hike following the Aiea Loop Trail to the summit trail and then down a pig hunter trail in to the Halawa Stream bed then north east until you almost get to the summit of the Koolau's. (Army came in from the helo pad behind the Omega Station in Haiku Valley. Much easier.) As with most mountain aircraft crashes in Hawaii, we followed the debris trail in Halawa Stream to the site. If anyone is thinking about making the trek, make sure you are an advanced hiker. It will test you, to say the least. Warnke was Not the only Naval aviator buried at a crash site during World War II, but he was the only one not recovered after the war ended. He is just one of thousands of MIA's we hope to bring home."

MIA Recovery
A 1999 search spotted remnants of the aircraft from the air. After addressing cultural and environmental issues, the JPAC will mount a minimally invasive search, an official said. A team from the JPAC will survied the site in the Ko'olau Range

Maj. Brian DeSantis, of the accounting command based at Hickam Air Force Base, said the first load of soil is expected to be removed on Monday, July 24th. A recovery planned for October 2005 was postponed until now pending an environmental approval.

During late July 2006. close to what is now the Marine Corps base at Kane'ohe Bay. The nine-member team will excavate a steep ravine near the H-3 tunnel entrance where Ensign Harry Warnke's F6F Hellcat fighter crashed during a series of aerial training dives. Approximately 80 tons of soil was removed from the remote crash site by helicopter. The soil was then taken by helicopter to East Range of Schofield Barracks where it was examined for human remains and evidence of the missing pilot.

Recovery of Remains
The case was resolved in early 2007, and the remains returned to th family for burial next to his parents in Westville, IN.

References
JPAC New Release No. 06-39 September 21, 2006
AP "WW II airman to be buried in Indiana" 2007
Thanks to Ted Darcy for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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