|Pilot 2nd Lt George D. Richards, O-743504 (MIA / KIA) Valparaiso, IN
MIA October 19, 1943 at 11:25am
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38H-5-LO Lightning serial number 42-66888. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force (13th AF), 347th Fighter Group (347th FG), 339th Fighter Squadron (339th FS). No known nickname or nose art.
On October 19, 1943 took off from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal piloted by 2nd Lt George D. Richards on a mission to escort B-24 Liberators on a bombing mission over Kara Airfield on southern Bougainville. Part of a flight of four flying low cover for the bombers, led by 1st Lt. Bill Harris with wing man Lt. Richards. Leading the second element was 1st Lt. James L. Eubanks and wingman 2nd Lt Jarrold D. Lilliedoll. Weather was reported as good.
Returning, the formation was scissoring in elements of two over the lead bomber formation. Attacked by 10-12 Zeros. An enemy Zero was observed peeling off to try to make an overhead attack on Eubank.
Flight leader Harris responded by pulling over to assist Eubanks, causing the enemy to pull back. While scissoring in formation, this P-38 clipped by P-38H 42-66626 piloted by Eubanks causing his right wing to break off and right engine to explode.
Last seen by 2nd Lt. Jarrold D. Lilliedoll., the crash was observed by fellow pilots 1st Lt. John R. Mulvey, Jr., 1st Lt. Bill Harris. Both aircraft crashed into the sea roughly three miles northeast of the East Cape of Fauro Island. No parachutes was observed.
1st Lt. John R. Mulvey Jr. O-409685 via MACR 810 page 2 / MACR 809 page 7:
"Our force of twenty-four (24) B-24's and thirteen (13) P-38's were twenty-twenty-five (20-25) miles away from the target headed for home when I saw a P-38 crash and explode in the water a few miles north and east of Masamaso Island. I watched the spot of the crash for a few seconds but did not see a parachute anywhere in the vicinity. About the same time I saw another P-38 smoking badly but apparently still under control. I called him in to the other fighters and scissored over him a few times when I suddenly lost him. The last time I saw his ship it was headed 90 degrees to the bombers in the direction of Shortland Island. At the time of the accident we were being attacked by ten (10) to twelve (12) Zeros and in all probability they didn't pass up the chance to knock off this cripple."
Richards was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Richards also has a memorial marker at Fairview Cemetery in Servia, IN.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records -
George D. Richards
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38H-5-LO Lightning 42-66888
"66888 (339th FS, 347th FG) collided in midair with P-38 42-66626 over Solomon Islands Oct 19, 1943. MACR 809"
Missing Air Crew Report 809 (MACR 809) created October 20, 1943
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC)
- George D. Richards
2Lt George D Richards (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Lieut George D Richards (memorial marker)
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June 29, 2019