|Pilot 1st Lt. George I. Gombert, Jr., O-667693 (MIA / KIA) Lehighton, PA
MIA February 27, 1944 at 1:20pm
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors Number 1665. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38J-5-LO Lightning serial number 42-67154. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 18th Fighter Group, 12th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engine serial numbers V-1710-90 and V-1710-91 serial numbers 42-94429 and 42-30468. Armed with a 20mm cannon and four .50 caliber machine guns weapon make and serial numbers not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 2639 (MACR 2639).
On February 27, 1944 took off from Stirling Airfield piloted by 1st Lt. George I. Gombert, Jr. armed with bombs on a dive bombing and strafing mission over Rabaul. The weather was reported as overcast. Inbound to the target, this P-38 was last seen at 1:20pm entering a cloud formation roughly 20 miles south of New Ireland. Last contacted by radio by 1st Lt. Francis J. Cheney and Captain John R. Mulvey.
It was believed Gombert made a successful water landing, based on the fact that a life raft with one occupant was sighted in the vicinity he was last seen. Went this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Afterwards, daily searches were conducted by PBY Catalinas, P-39s and P-38s operating in the area of the loss.
Gombert was officially declared dead January 19, 1946. He earned the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) on February 17, 1944. Posthumously, he earned the Purple Heart and was promoted to Captain. Gombert is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Gombert also has a memorial marker at Lehighton Cemetery in Lehighton, PA. Gombert also has another memorial marker at Gnaden Huetten Cemetery in Lehighton PA.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - George I. Gombert, Jr.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-38J-5-LO Lightning 42-67154
"67154 (18th FG) lost Feb 27, 1944"
Missing Air Crew Report 2639 (MACR 2639) created February 26, 1944 [sic, February 27, 1944]
12th Fighter Squadron - January-March 1944 (USAF Historical Research Agency IRSUM: 55724) page 3, 6
(Page 3) "(39) March 21, 1944: 1 pilot [Gombert] from duty to missing in action.
(Page 6) "i. Losses in Action; Officers: On February 27, 1944, 1st Lt. George I. Gombert, Jr. O-667693, was lost while enroute to the Rabaul area on a dive-bombing mission. His plane was last seen going into a could formation about twenty miles southwest of the New Ireland coast."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George I. Gombert Jr.
FindAGrave - George I Gombert (Lehighton Cemetery grave)
FindAGrave - George I. Gombert, Jr (Gnaden Huetten Cemetery)
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June 29, 2019