|Pilot 2nd Lt Francis J. Piotrowski, O-1173035 (MIA / KIA) Dowagiac, MI
Observer Major Earl Robert Kindig, O-22640 C.O. 121st FAB (MIA / KIA) IA
Crashed February 7, 1944
Built by Piper with a Continental 0-170-3 engine, serial number
156781. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas.
Assigned to the U. S. Army, 32nd Infantry Division, 121st Field Artillery Battalion (FAB). No known nickname or nose art. Disassembled and transported aboard USS LST-454 as cargo with the wings removed. On January 2, 1944 unloaded at Saidor and assembled on the beach.
On February 7, 1944 took off at 1:00pm approximately eighteen miles
southeast of Saidor. Aboard as a passenger was Major Kindig, C.O. of the 121st Field Artillery Battalion to observe artillery
fire from his unit and
correct their fire, as he was unsatisfied with previous forward air observation efforts.
On the ground, 121st Field Artillery Battalion were firing 75mm howitzers at a range of hills near Gabutamon. Low on
fuel and out of radio contact, this L-4 was last seen, turning to the west flying
up the Yaut River Valley below cloud level near Gabutamon to a point
2,000 yards directly west of Gabutamon where a few artillery rounds
were landing. This L-4 disappeared from sight around a range of hills near Kepoiak village.
This aircraft aircraft crashed near
Gabutamon near the Saidor Gap in the Finisterre
During November 1997, a US Army CILHI wreck survey in the area gathered information on two aircraft crashes in the area. These later proved to be P-47D 42-22896 and this aircraft.
On July 28, 1998 the wreckage was visited by Alfred
Recovery of Remains
During January 2000, the crash site was first investigated by a team from U. S. Army CILHI and coded "PNG 104". On March 8, 2000 CILHI made a second visit to the site to perform a full recovery. At the crash site, the team located human remain and personal effects of the crew. Later, these remains were positively identified and returned to the families for burial.
Both crew members were officially declared dead
on February 8, 1945. Both were memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Kindig also has a memorial marker at Elm Grove Cemetery in Washington, ID. Piotrowski also has a memorial marker on the family's headstone at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kalamazoo, MI at lot 73, block R.
After the identification of their remains, Kindig and Piotrowski were buried in a group burial at Arlington National Cemetery at at Section 60 Site 8022. After Kindig's identification, an individual marker was added on October 30, 2001 at 9:00am.
Leonard F. Rzepczynski (nephew of Piotrowski)
Ora I. Kindig (wife of Kindig)
Michael Kindig (son of Kindig)
Patricia Gaffney (daughter in law of Kindig)
AWM - Saidor landing cine footage of this aircraft being unloaded from LST on the beach at Saidor at clip timecode: 1:41 - 1:50 (on screen time code 05:03:11 - 05:03:20) and 2:20 - 2:44 (on screen timecode 05:03:51 - 05:04:14)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Earl R. Kindig "Remains recovered"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Francis J. Piotrowski "Remains recovered"
FindAGrave - Lieut Francis J. Piotrowski (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - Maj Earl Robert Kindig (tablets of the missing photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Maj Earl Robert Kindig (Arlington grave photos)
FindAGrave - Earl R Kindig (memorial marker photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - L-5 Stinson Sentinel 43-29071
Scripps Howard News Service "Man buries dad lost in WWII Lakewood resident receives comfort from military ritual" by Katy Marquardt October 31, 2001
Colorado Labor Advocate "Editor's father's remains found" August 31, 2000
geneologyKris "In Memory of “Bud”" by Kris Rzepczynski May 29, 2012
Thanks to Michael Kindig for assistance and additional information
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January 5, 2018