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|Pilot 1st Lt. Robert L. Crosswait, O-796783 (MIA / KIA) Sanborn County, SD
MIA June 30, 1944 at 4:50pm
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructor Number 2304. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force as P-38J-10-LO Lightning serial number 42-67793. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 475th Fighter Group, 431st Fighter Squadron. No known nickname, nose art or squadron number. When lost, engine V-1710-91 and V-1710-89 serial numbers A-035584 and A-035324. Armed with 20mm cannon serial number 120062 plus .50 caliber machine guns serial number 746466, 459007, 746932, 562390, 120062.
On June 30, 1944 took off from Hollandia Airfield piloted by 1st Lt. Robert L. Crosswait on a glide bombing mission led by Major Thomas B. McGuire against Noemfoor Island. Approaching Tanahmerah Bay, the weather was bad and the formation descended to 1,000' due to clouds with visibility to the south and east nil, with weather towards Wakde was good. This aircraft was last contacted by radio by Major Thomas B. McGuire in the vicinity of Tanahmerah Bay at 4:50pm. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Due to the bad weather, the rest of the formation aborted the mission and landed at Wakde Airfield.
Statement by Major Thomas B. McGuire via Missing Air Crew Report 6576 (MACR 6576), page 8
"I was leading Hades Squadron on 30 June, 1944 to bomb installations on Noemfoor Island. When we approached Tanamerah Bay we let down to 1000 feet because of bad weather. When fully under the overcast I saw that we would not be able to get to Hollandia so we executed a one hundred and eighty degree turn. After this turn Lt. Crosswait was not seen.
Approximately five minutes later I had radio contact with Crosswait. I had called Hollandia Tower for weather conditions over the strip. Lt. Crosswait called me and said that he could not receive the tower in answer to my request for anyone to relay the tower's message. I could receive no one beside Lt. Crosswait. I then called all my squadron to go to Wakde. We were separated and no one heard me.
The weather to Wakde was good with scattered cumulus. The weather inland was very poor and heavily built up. The weather in the Tanamerah Bay region was closed in right to the deck and built on up to approximately 30,000 feet. All weather to the south and east was bad."
When this aircraft was reported as missing, search efforts were coordinated by Captain William S. O'Brien. That same day, two P-38 took off on a search mission and spotted a crash where an airplane hit the ground in a vertical bank and had exploded. Afterwards, an L-5 took off with a squadron pilot aboard to try to identify the type of aircraft but it could not be identified.
The next day, three officers, three enlisted from the squadron plus three natives and a Javanese interpreter departed to search the jungle are inland from Tanahmerah Bay while an Stinson L-5 Sentinel spotted for them from above. After walking for about four hours, they lost visual contact with the L-5 and had to turn back due to darkness and were unable to locate the crash site.
Afterwards, it was planned to take a native aboard an L-5 to spot the wreckage and then trek to the crash site arranged through the Dutch liaison officer. It is unclear if this effort was undertaken or the results. Crosswait remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
June 30, 1944
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