|Pilot Captain Louis J. Connelly, Jr., O-890002 (MIA / KIA) TX
MIA May 4, 1942
Prewar, Connelly was employed by Philippine Air Lines (PAL), flying with "Pappy" Gun in the Philippines.
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Constructors Number 222-5340. Converted
from a E model into a F-4
photographic reconnaissance version. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 6th Photo Reconnaissance Group, 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
This F-4 was scheduled to fly a mission on May 2, 1942 but the mission was canceled and rescheduled for May 4, 1942. After going missing, this aircraft was officially condemned on October 31, 1944.
On May 4, 1942 took off Garbutt Field near Townsville piloted by Captain Louis J. Connelly, Jr. on a flight northward to 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer) near Port Moresby. After landing and refueling, took off again on a photo reconnaissance mission over Rabaul. This Lightning failed to return from the mission and was reported as Missing In Action (MIA) over Lae.
Ralph K. Watts diary via F-4 Lost on a photo reconnaissance raid to Rabaul on May 4, 1942:
On this day, there was bad weather reported over Lae. Enemy action from Lae does not list a claim or sighting for a Lightning over Lae.
"Tuesday May 5, 1942 - Well I got my plane out of the tullies today. It is a wash-out from the cockpit to the front end. We hope to get the materials and get her flying eventually. Well yesterday was bad day. Capt. Conolly is 24 hour overdue. He was sent to Rabaul and never returned. There are three possibilities. (1) The Japs got him. (2) He made a forced landing on land or sea. (3) He bailed out and landed on land or sea. We are hoping for the best but it looks doubtful. He may be our first combat death."
Connelly was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Connelly has a memorial marker at Portlock Cemetery in Portsmouth, VA at plot 1, 49
American Battle Monument Commission (ABMC) lists pilot's surname as "Connelly". Other sources list it as "Connely" or the date of the loss as May 4, 1942 incorrectly.
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - F-4 Lightning 41-2126
F-4 Lost on a photo reconnaissance raid to Rabaul on May 4 1942
They Fought with What They Had page 143
FindAGrave - Capt Louis J Connelly, Jr (memorial photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Michael Claringbould for additional information.
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September 26, 2018