|Pilot F/O Willis F. Evers, T-001043 (MIA / KIA)
Crashed November 2, 1943
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 80th Figher Squadron. No known nickname or noseart. When lost, engines V-1710-55 and V-1710-51 serial numbers 42-29464 and 42-93242.
On November 2, 1943 took off from Kiriwina Airfield piloted by F/O Willis F. Evers on a mission to escort B-25s over Rabaul. Inbound to the target, the weather was closing in over the target and rain squalls and heavy clouds. Evers was flying as wing man for element leader Schriber in the first flight.
This P-38 was last sighted at 1:30pm over Rabaul by Louis Schriber, before an engagement with 70-80 enemy fighters. Missing Air Crew Report 1178 lists his loss location as south of Ralauna Point on the southern coast of Blanche Bay.
Schriber noted in MACR, page 9:
"The last time I saw F/O Evers was when we dove into some enemy fighters. After this attack which took place at approximately 4,000', I could not see F/O Evers anywhere.
No specific search was ever made for this aircraft, aside from routine flights by Allied bombers and fighters.
This P-38 impacted at high speed causing an impact crater with only a few pieces of wreckage left on the surface. The engines and cockpit section were buried 12-15' into the ground.
This crash site was a high speed impact crater, with a few pieces of wreckage on the surface and the remainder of the aircraft including the engines and cockpit section buried 12-15' underground.
Recovery of Remains
During August 1984, CILHI recovered remains from this crash site.
During 1986 the crash site was again visited by CILHI and excavated further, coded CIL 0082-86. Pieces of wreckage were recovered to Kokopo.
Brian Bennett adds:
"I was on another recovery at that time and the team split to go and do the Evers site. I have never been back to the crash site since i was there with Norrie [curator Kokopo Museum] on that Saturday afternoon."
Later, Evers remains were identified and his MIA case was resolved.
Willis was officially declared dead on December 15, 1945. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. In 1945, a memorial marker for Evers was placed at Saint Peters Cemetery, Hildreth Nebraska. After his remains were identified, he was laid to rest alongside his parents.
Missing AIr Crew Report 1178 (MACR 1178)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-38G Lightning 43-2203
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Willis F. Evers "Remains recovered"
Find A Grave - Willis Frederick Evers (photo, memorial marker)
Thanks to Brian Bennett and Bruce Hoy for additional information
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January 5, 2018