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|Pilot 2nd Lt. Kenneth I. McCloud, O-743460 (rescued)
Ditched January 28, 1944
Over the target, intercepted by roughly 60-80 Zeros, McCloud and his wingman were separated from the main group and attacked by Zeros. During the dog fight, McCloud claimed a Zero shot down that collided with another Zero while going down. Last seen over Kabangi Bay by his wingman with a Zero shooting at this aircraft. McCloud failed to return from the mission and was declared Missing In Action (MIA).
McCloud's P-38 had a Zero on its tail that hit his right and left engines before breaking off when another plane intercepted the attacker. Damaged, he searched for a route back to base before ditching into the sea roughly ten miles off Kabanga Bay into St. George's Channel.
Seen going down, four F4U Corsairs followed him down and circled him in the sea before departing. Afterwards, Zeros searched the area, and he flipped the raft upside down and swam alongside to avoid being observed. He was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
Fate of the Pilot
On the third day, two PV-1's passed within three miles, but again failed to see him and a formation of American aircraft passed overhead at 20,000', but there was no use signaling them. That night, the raft was caught in a wind storm that lasted all night and into the next day.
The fourth day, the storm caused large 30' waves and the strong wind allowed for great speed. Later that day, another front arrived and pushed the raft and blew it back to the north, further from home until it passed by 6:00pm. The storm cause the emergency rations to be lost and McCloud slept during the night to recuperate.
Awakening on the fifth day, a snooty tern had landed on the raft, and McCloud managed to catch the bird, skinned it and ate it raw. Everyday, sharks bumped into the raft. A rain storm allowed him to replenish his water supply. While attempting to fish, within five minutes a bit took the line.
On the sixth day, he caught an albatross, skinned it and dipped the flesh into the sea to salt it and dried it on the raft to make "gull jerky" but the salted food made him thirsty but it continued to rain. In the evening, Bougainville Island was in view, proving he had navigated correctly.
In fact, McCloud managed to deploy his life raft . Over nine days, he used its sail and sea anchor to sail southward towards Bougainville, using the sun and stars as navigation aids and conserving his food and water supply.
The seventh day, saw more planes but was not sighted by them despite using sea marker and signaling. Sailed and paddled all day. On the eighth day, observed more friendly planes but was not spotted.
On February 6, 1944 during his ninth day at sea, McCloud's life raft was spotted by fighter aircraft escorting a PBY Catalina "Dumbo" who spotted his sea marker signal (dye) in the open sea roughly 35 miles west of Buka Passage. The escorting aircraft waggled their wings to indicate they had seen him and returned with the PBY Catalina which landed and successfully rescued him. By 11:30am, McCloud was returned to his unit on Stirling Island.
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