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|Pilot 2nd Lt. John H. "Johnny" Mangas (MIA / KIA) Portland, OR
MIA January 8, 1943
Sent overseas to New Guinea. On his second day in the Pacific Mangas was on patrol at 32,000', his left engine quit and made a force landing. On landing, his hydraulics in the landing gear failed, causing a belly landing. Mangas was unhurt in the crash.
On December 27, 1942 Mangas took off piloting P-38F 42-12653, one of four P-38s scrambled in a four-plane flight including 2nd Lt. Richard I. Bong and Captain Tommy Lynch and 2nd Lt. Kenneth Sparks. Over Dobodura they intercepted 35 enemy planes, the P-38 Lightning aerial combat in the South West Pacific. Seven enemy planes were claimed, with Mangas credited with one. Two other four-plane flights of the 39th FS joined the melee claiming another six victories. For his gallantry during the mission, Mangas earned the Silver Star. Afterwards, this aerial battle was reported in the American press.
On January 6, 1943, Mangas took off piloting P-38F 42-12653 and claimed his second aerial victory attacking enemy fighters defending a convoy roughly 50 miles off Gasmata over the Huon Gulf. In total, Mangas was credited with two aerial victories.
Over the target, intercepted by the Japanese fighters including Ki-43 Oscars from the 11th Sentai and A6M Zeros from the 582 Kōkūtai, and 252 Kōkūtai. During the air combat, the 39th Fighter Squadron claimed a total of seven victories, including Richard I. Bong who claimed his fifth aerial victory and became an ace. Mangas was last seen continuing to make firing passes at enemy planes, and disappeared into the clouds near dusk. At 18:20, flight leader Lt. Hoyt Eason called on all pilots to form up and return to Port Moresby. When Mangas failed to return from the mission, he was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
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