|Pilot 1st Lt Lawrence Reeves, O-743091 (MIA / KIA) WA
MIA April 16, 1944 "Black Sunday" at 3:00pm
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Delivered to the U. S. Army.
Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 475th Fighter Group, 432nd Fighter Squadron. Later, transfered to the 8th Fighter Group, 36th Fighter Squadron. This aircraft was assigned squadron number 3 painted in white on the coolant radiator on the boom. No known nose art or nickname. When lost, engines V-1710-89 and V-1710-91 serial numbers 42-29973 and 42-94046.
On April 16, 1944 "Black Sunday" took off from Nadzab No. 4 Airfield (APO 713, Unit 1) at 10:20am as part of a four plane flight "Agate Special" lead by P-38H piloted by Zielinski with wingman P-38H 42-66832 piloted by Mikucky, plus element leader P-38H 42-66832 piloted by Reeves and element P-38H 42-66668 piloted by Keown.
The formation escorted a single B-25 Mitchell from the 38th Bombardment Group searching for B-25G 42-64835 that force landed four days earlier. The five aircraft reached the Sepik River delta about an hour and a half later. While the B-25
crew searched the river and swamps for nearly two hours without results with the four Lightnings weaving closely behind, until their fuel became low by 1:30pm. Weather was overcast from 3,000' to 6,000'.
Returning, the formation flew a course approximately 50 miles inland from the coast and encountered heavy overcast 15 miles south of Annenberg with overcast down to 1,000' and rain. The formation proceeded towards Madang in hopes of landing at Saidor Airfield.
The formation encountered severe weather with overcast down to 1,000' and visibility of 300' and attempted to turn out towards the sea to find an opening in the clouds. Circling off Yalu Point for 20 minutes before finding a hole in the clouds. With poor visibility, the formation broke up with Zielinski and Mikucky
turning to the left while Reeves and Keown turned to the right at 2:40pm.
Likely, P-38 crashed into the sea off Yalu Point at roughly Lat 5.40 Long
Eugene Zielinski reported:
"...we encountered a heavy overcast about 15 miles south of Annanberg that had gotten down to 1,000 feet and rain squalls. At this point I changed
our course and headed for Madang, with the intention of landing at Saidor.
When we reached the coast at Yalu Point the overcast was again down to
1,000 feet and a solid sheet of rain falling. With my flight still together,
we headed out to sea in an attempt to find an opening in the clouds. Off
Yalu Point we found a hole and circled for 20 minutes, and then I radioed
my flight that I was turning to the left. My wingman, Lt Mickucky, followed
by element leader and his wingman turned to the right. This was at 14:40,
and the last I saw of the element. With my right engine already feathered,
I radioed my wingman, telling him that I was bailing out and instructed
him to do the same it being impossible to get through the weather with
a shortage of fuel. I bailed out off Yalu Point from approximately 800
feet, landing in the water one and a half miles from shore. This occurred
at 1500 hours. In a few minutes I was rescued by a barge, and was told
that my wingman, Lt Mickucky, had crashed into the sea and exploded about
a mile away."
Mikucky was officially declared dead on February 7, 1946. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. He also has a memorial marker at Saint Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Cemetery in Maine, NY.
DeLorme Stein (friend of family) recalls:
"He was a P-38 pilot and was MIA just seven days after he arrived there.
2nd Lt Mikucky (pronounced Mih-kusky). He had only been flying for a week,
and was 21 years old. A handsome guy. I doubt he had time to name his
plane and have any nose art done. His family has his log book, leather
cap, and Purple Heart."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lawrence Reeves
FindAGrave - 1Lt Lawrence Reeves (photos)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-38H Lightning 42-66832
Black Sunday page 100
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June 29, 2019