|Pilot 2nd Lt. Alphonse "Al" D. Quinones, O-748876 (POW, survived) AZ
Crashed November 7, 1943 at 12:35
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 42-66911. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter Group, 39th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. Nose Number 37. When lost, engines V-1710-89 and V-1710-91 serial numbers 42-94192 and serial number 42-30109. Weapon serial numbers unknown.
On November 7, 1943 took off from Kiriwina Airfield on a fighter sweep over Rabaul. Quinones was part of "Red Flight" flying the no. 2 position leading the formation. Weather was overcast at 30,000' with heavy rain at 25,000'.
Over New Britain, the formation engaged in a dogfight over the Wide Bay area. During the first pass with enemy fighters, this P-38 was hit in the right engine and began trailing Preston coolant badly. Lt. Flood, flying in the no. 3 position stayed with Quinones and began coaching him about what to do over the radio. The damaged engine caught fire from both sides while three Zeros tried to attack from the rear and above, but were driven off by fellow pilots Lt. Walters and Lt. Urquhart.
As the fire in his engine increased, Lt. Flood advised him to bail out and deployed his parachute. As he descended, a Zero dove at his parachute and appeared to land approximately 200 yards south of the Powell River roughly 3-5 miles from Wide Bay.
Meanwhile, Quinones continued flying traversing the Baining Mountains,
heading almost back towards Rabaul before crashing south of Lemingi more than
25 miles from where he bailed out.
Although Quinones was seen to bail out, no search missions were flown to locate him afterwards.
Fate of the Pilot
Quinones landed unhurt. Later, he was captured by the Japanese. He was transported to Rabaul and detained as a Prisoner Of War (POW) by the Kempeitai (military police) at Rabaul Prisoner Compound (Rabaul POW Prison). After heavy bombing, he and the other prisoners were moved to Tunnel Hill POW Camp for the remainder of the Pacific War. Quinones was one of nine prisoners who survived captivity and was liberated during September 1945.
During 1984, the crash site was visited by a team from US Army CILHI with Brian Bennett and Bruce Hoy, PNG Museum modern history directors.
Brian Bennett adds:
"When Jose Holquin, Bruce Hoy and I got to B-17E "Naught But Nice" we had been told beforehand about another crashed airplane further up the valley. In '84 CILHI were out and we went up the valley to a pad that had been precut by the locals on the edge of a very steep ridge. I recall that we walked a little way and here was an engine with the tail boom mostly concertinaed onto the rear of the engine. Had only been at the site a few minutes when Bruce located an engine cowl with either a serial or constructors number. As soon as he had looked it up in his little notebook and learned that it was not MIA he lost interest and we were gone. No inspection of the site done and if a photo was taken i don't recall and i never took any."
Quinones retired from the U. S. Air Force (USAF) with the rank of Major and earned the Purple Heart during World War II. He passed away May 20, 2002 and is buried at the City of Mesa Cemetery at section 152, lot 2, grave 7.
Dr. C. Kenneth Quinones (son of Al Quinones)
"I am writing a book about my father USAF Major A.D. Quinones and his fellow POWs at Rabaul during WWII. A. D. Quinones is survived by his oldest son Donald Quinones, Arizona Air National guard retired and Vietnam veteran USMC, living in Maricopa, AZ. Second son C. Kenneth Quinones, retired Foreign Service Officer and professor, Ph.D., Harvard University 1974, living in Centreville, VA and daughter Eileen Eisen, working and living in Scottsdale, AZ."
39th Fighter Squadron P-38 pilot John Dunbar adds:
"I gave new pilot Quinones some sage advice on how to manage my newly assigned P-38 on a Rabaul mission on November 3, 1943. A few days later he was victim of a lucky hit by a zero and had to bail out. His aircraft had #37 on the nose, no nose art."
Missing Air Crew Report 3037 (MACR 3037)
39th Fighter Squadron Combat Report November 7, 1943
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-38H Lightning 42-66911
Maj Alphonse D Quinones (grave photo)
Thanks to Brian Bennett and Edward Rogers for additional information
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September 26, 2018