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  OA-10-CO Catalina Serial Number 43-3262  
USAAF
5th AF
5th Fighter Command
HQ Squadron

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USAAF c1943

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Winged Ghosts
of the Pacific
1995

Pilot  F/O Richard W. Smith, T-185613 (MIA / KIA, BR) IL
Co-Pilot  F/O Cecil R. McElhiney, T-185679 (MIA / KIA, BR) TN
Radio  2nd Lt. Robert M. Mona, O-734582 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Engineer  Sgt Glen A. Walter, 18069911 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Radio Engineer  T/Sgt Harold S. Macha, 6265067 (MIA / KIA, BR) PA
Gunner  S/Sgt Jack W. Holt, 14056454 49th FG, HQ (MIA / KIA, BR)
Gunner  Sgt Charles E. Dawson, Jr., 38013205 49th FG, FCS (MIA / KIA, BR)

Crashed  October 16, 1943
MACR  3262

Aircraft History
Built as a PBY-5A Catalina by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as bureau number 08031. Instead, transfered to the U. S. Army and redesignated OA-10-CO Catalina with serial number 43-3262. Flown overseas via Hawaii to the South-West Pacific Area (SWPA).

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 5th Fighter Command, Headquarters Squadron. Attached to the 49th Fighter Group, 7th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines R-1830-92 serial numbers 43-145080 and 43-99395. Aboard was a single .50 caliber machine gun serial number 127982 in the tail position.

Mission History
On October 16, 1943 took off from Goodenough Island a search and rescue mission bound for the Louisiade Archipelago. Afterwards, the Catalina planned to land at Dobodura. Instead, it crashed and burnt on impact to the east of Pongani, killing the entire crew. When this aircraft failed to arrive, it was declared Missing In Action (MIA).

Search
Afterwards, a search mission was conducted by J. J. O'Conner, 1st Lt. O. R. Swartz and 2nd Lt. L. C. Martin. The planes took off at 3pm and searched north of Buna then 25 miles out to sea from shore then down the north coast to Cape Nelson then returned to land at 5:15pm. No sightings were made.

Wreckage
On March 16, 1944 this aircraft was located by WO2 D. C. Frame, a police officer based at Tufi. At the crash site, the dog tag of McElhiney was found and the remains of the crew were recovered.

Memorials
The entire crew was declared dead the day of the crash. Postwar, two of the crew were buried at Manila American Cemetery. Smith at Plot N Row 6 Grave 183. McElhiney at plot D row 7 grave 99. Three of the crew were buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at section 79 site 412 including Dawson, Mona and Walter. Holt is buried at Riverside Cemetery in Macon, GA. Macha is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery at section M site 91.

John Douglas adds:
"I first visited this site in 1991, took a boat from Oro Bay to the crash near Waiwa village.  Villagers were reluctant to show us the site, and required a fee to see it.  We then landed at beach at Waiwa Bay, came to wing tip, up a hillside, found the main body of wreckage on the ridge, with tail on top.  Must have come in low clipped the wing and crashed.  Found burnt remains of a suitcase, latches and handle. Found some US Navy cutlery. Bones sticking out of the wreckage, found machine guns and a big stainless steel anchor.  Later, got video people from Australia to film it [for Winged Ghosts of the Pacific], and the also found bones.  Brian Bennett went there a few years ago, but was not able to find bones."

References
Missing Air Crew Report 3262 (MACR 3262)
USAF Serial Number Search Results - OA-10-CO Catalina 43-3262
"3262 (49th BS [sic]) MIA near Goodenough Island, New Guinea Oct 16, 1943"
FindAGrave - FltOff Cecil R Mcelhiney (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Harold J Macha (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Glenn A. Walter (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Robert N Mona (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Jack Willis Holt (grave photo, photo)
FindAGrave - Charles E Dawson, Jr (grave photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - OA-10 Catalina 43-3262
Winged Ghosts of the Pacific documents this wreckage and bones present in 1995
Thanks to John Douglas for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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