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  FG-1A Corsair Bureau Number 13316  
"Thunderbolts / Lucifer's Messengers"

Pilot  1st Lt. James B. Sturgis, O-26811 (WIA, survived) Corydon, IN
Force Landed  October 10, 1944

Aircraft History
Built by Goodyear Aircraft Corporation in Akron, Ohio as model V-166B. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as FG-1A Corsair bureau number 13316. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific (SOPAC).

Wartime History
Assigned to the United States Marine Corps (USMC), Marine Air Wing 1 (MAW-1), Marine Air Group 14 (MAG-14), Marine Observation Squadron 251 "Thunderbolts / Lucifer's Messengers" (VMO-251). This aircraft had no known nickname, nose art or squadron number.

Mission History
On October 10, 1944 at 7:50am took off from Piva North Airfield (Piva Uncle) on Bougainville piloted by 1st Lt. James B. Sturgis as one of four Corsairs on a fighter-bomber and strafing sweep over targets on New Britain and Bougainville. The formation included thirty-three F4U-1 Corsairs and eleven FG-1A Corsairs from VMO-251.

A flight four Corsairs from VMO-251 included pilots Humbert, Sigan, Inglesart and Sturgis on a sweep from Put Put to Keravat. The four Corsairs hit a bivouac near experimental gardens at Keravat released four 500 pound bombs and expending 800 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition with unobserved results.

Afterwards, they split into two plane elements with Inglesart and Sturgis strafing Malabunga. During their run, Sturgis was hit by machine gun fire in his fuel pump and began loosing fuel and the pair broke off their attack and proceeded together to Nissan Island (Green).

While landing at Nissan Airfield (Green) this Corsair caught fire but Sturgis managed to jump out while it was still sliding and sustained only minor injuries as ground crews began spraying it with fire extinguishers. Afterwards, the aircraft was written off and stricken off charge. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.

On January 20, 1945 Sturgis went Missing In Action (MIA) piloting F4U-1D Corsiar 57531 when he suffered a head on collision near Muntinlupa (Muntinglupa). He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. Sturgis is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

USMC Casualty Card - James B. Sturgis
(Front) "10 Oct 44 Wounded in action at Green Island. ** Conf War Diary CD #51433 fr VMO-251, MAG-14 for Oct 44 rec'd 1 Dec 44. 011519."
(Back) "Sprained, rt ankle, lacerated, rt hand. Was WIA when plane was hit by enemy machine gun fire in fuel pump. Upon landing the plane caught fire. Sturgis jumped out while plane was still rolling."
Note, VMO-251 War Diary states this aircraft was F4U-1A Corsair 56394
Navy Serial Number Search Results - FG-1A Corsair 13316
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List October 1944 - FG-1A Corsair 13316
NARA "Marine Observation Squadron 251 War Diary October 1944" pages 8-9, 18, 22
(Page 9) "10 October, 1944... While Inglehart and Sturgis were strafing the village of Malabunga, the latter's plane was hit by machine gun fire in the fuel pump. Sturgis began losing fuel, and accompanied by Inglehart barely made it to Green Island [Nissan]. Upon landing, the plane caught fire, and Sturgis jumped out while the plane was rolling at a speed of about thirty knots. He suffered a badly sprained right ankle and a lacerated right hand. Fortunately for him, he was wearing gloves at the time. The flames from the plane were extinguished, but the plane bureau number 56394 [sic? F4U-1A Corsair 56394, other sources state his aircraft was FG-1A Corsair 13316] had to be stricken from the Navy List. Sturgis reported that he did not know his plane was afire until the tower called him..."
(Page 10) "10 October, 1944 (continued) ...and told him to get out quickly. He also stated that the crash trucks at Green Island were really on the job; that they were putting fire extinguishers on the plane almost before it stopped rolling."
(Page 18) (B) Aircraft 2. Combat losses: 3. F4U-1 [sic FG] bureau no. 56394 [sic 13316]"
(Page 22) "Name: Stugis / Combat Missions Started: 8 / Combat Missions Completed: 8 / Bureau Number: 56394 [sic?] / Pilot Lost? No"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James Becker Sturgis
FindAGrave - 1LT James Becker Sturgis, Jr (tablets of the missing)

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Last Updated
October 11, 2019


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