|Pilot 1st Lt. Paul O. Staller, O-427023 (WIA, died, BR) PA
Crashed August 13, 1942
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Originally ordered as P-38E Lightning but at the factory completed as a F-4-1-LO photographic reconnaissance version. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as F-4-1-LO Lightning serial number 41-2125. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group (PRG), 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (PRS). No known nickname or nose art.
On August 13, 1942 took off from Horn Island Airfield at 5:00pm piloted by 1st Lt. Paul O. Staller on a flight bound for Port Moresby. Lost, Staller found himself over Misima Island and circled the island in the dark before crashing into a mountain. He survived the crash, but was wounded and later died.
During September 1942 the crash site was found on Misima Island and his body and papers were recovered by the Australian Army.
Staller was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Postwar, he was permanently buried at Manila American Cemetery at plot A row 16 grave 155.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - F-4-1-LO Lightning 41-2125
"2125 (8th PRS) crashed at Misiama Island Jul 27, 1942."
New Guinea Force Diary "In Messages" for September 1942 [Australian War Memorial]
Date: 19 [September 1942]
T.O.O. : 1300
From: TORLESSE IS
Message: "American plane crashed 13 Aug pilot lost all crew found dead no other bodies found. Pilots papers held at MISIMA."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - F-4 Lightning 41-2125
William Bartsch Diary August 17, 1979
"Misima - Found, after 35 minute hike wreckage in a deep gully, two V-12 engines and a piece of the plane, but not identifiable. We think its a P-38 [F-4] probably as they had two V-12 liquid cooled engines. (No photos taken - not remarkable)."
The Eight Ballers: Eyes of the Fifth Air Force pages 160
Thanks to Edward Rogers, Robert Rocker and William Bartsch for additional information
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September 9, 2019