After completing our inspection of
the Carolina Airfield complex we followed Mr.
Fukuda’s map and proceeded to an area approximately three miles
to the east. In this area we proceeded to a plantation identified
as Hacienda Progresso. This plantation was identified in a U.S.
Army Search and Recovery report as the location where Major McGuire’s
remains were recovered in 1947.
While at this location we made contact with the current owner of the
land, Mr. Bert Capay, but he could not offer any information to us regarding
this incident. He did however identify an elderly woman by the
name of Lourdes Cosa who had worked as a maid for the plantation owner,
Mr. Vladimir Terrogoff, during WW II and that she might provide us with
some information on this incident. Eventually we located her in
the nearby city of Cadiz and interviewed her. Although she did
remember the plane crashing near the owner’s house she could not
pin point the exact location of the crash site. She did however
refer us to the plantation foreman Mr. Vincente Bedoria whom she said
lived in the nearby city of Conception.
The following day January 7th, 2001 we located the residence of Mr.
Bedoria and sat down to interview him. We told him that we were
investigating the crash of a plane in this area towards the end of WW
II and if he knew anything about it? He replied: “Oh yes,
I certainly do!” To my surprise he accurately described the
type of aircraft involved, the markings on that aircraft, the time of
day, the presence of three other “double body” aircraft,
the presence of a Japanese single engine aircraft, and provided us with
a description of the personal equipment that the pilot had been wearing.
particular interest was his statement that the pilot was wearing an
unusual gold ring with a black stone. He also described the condition
of the pilot’s remains and how he and some other workers had
placed the pilot’s remains in a wooden box and carried it to
the owner’s house. There they buried it under a large tree
and replaced the grass so it would not look like a freshly dug grave. He
then described how he had made contact with U.S. Army troops in 1947
and led them to the grave site where they took custody of the body.
information that Mr. Bedoria provided us with was cross referenced
with the U.S. Army’s 1947 Search
and Recovery Report, Major McGuire’s autopsy report, Major McGuire’s
Missing Aircrew Report, and most vividly a photograph taken on January
5th, 1945. In this photo. taken two days before his death, Major
McGuire is clearly seen wearing a black and gold ring on his left ring
finger. Without reservation I determined that Mr. Bedoria had
indeed witnessed Major McGuire’s crash and had assisted in recovering
and securing his remains so they would not fall into the hands of the
I then asked him to lead us to the crash
site. After a 15-minute walk he led us to the western slope of
a shallow ravine and standing midway up the slope stated that this
is where the plane came to rest.
At the location that he directed us to look we began excavating the soil
and over the next three days recovered more than 200 pieces of metal parts. One
part we recovered was a 5-inch round geared pulley. This geared pulley
was a precisely manufactured part recovered approximately 10 inches under
ground in the middle of the crash site and showing extensive corrosion. Eventually
this part was taken back to the U.S. and positively identified as a part
of the window cranking assembly of the P-38 aircraft. This part is
unique to the P-38 aircraft. We also recovered two
.50 caliber brass shell casings with unfired primers, heavily corroded and showing extensive
evidence of heat stress, and stamped with the number “4” on
the casing base. We also recovered a single
20 mm HEI bullet fragment that was also extensively corroded.
Based on the testimony of Mr. Bedoria,
the recovery of unmistakable P-38 aircraft parts at the location, the
U.S. military documentary evidence, and the direct testimony from Mr.
Fukuda and Mr. Doug Thropp I determined that this was in fact the
crash site of Major McGuire’s aircraft.
recovered at the crash site have been donated to the Clark Air Base Museum
as part of a display honoring Major McGuire. It was in the sky
over Clark Airfield on December 25th and 26th that Major McGuire distinguished
himself and was subsequently awarded the coveted Medal of Honor. Today, a memorial marker with the following inscription has been placed at the
crash site identifying the location of Major McGuire’s death.
During my investigation into Major
McGuire’s unfortunate mishap I tried to rely on direct eyewitness
testimony from individuals directly involved in the dogfight and on
the evidence collected at the crash site. I also conferred with
many P-38 pilots from the 475th Fighter Group who flew with Major McGuire
and knew him personally. I feel the conclusions that I have drawn
concerning the dogfight over Negros on January 7th, 1945 are the best
idea we may ever have as to what really happened that day. I
am currently writing a final report describing the details of the dogfight
and analyzing exactly what happened. I hope to eventually establish
a website on this incident and make my final report available on
I would like to thank the following individuals
for their extremely valuable assistance in conducting this investigation:
Mr. Charles Martin
Mr. Doug Thropp
Mr. Mizunori Fukuda
Mr. Craig Anderson
Mr. Lee Northrop
MSgt. Gary Boyd
|Mr. Michael Terry
Mr. Vincente Bedoria
Without their help this investigation would
not have been possible.
David J. Mason
Mr. Bedoria who witnessed Major McGuire’s
crash and recovered his body
Major McGuire posing with P-38L-1 “PUDGY
V” on January 5th, 1945
Close up view of the black onyx and gold ring
View of Major McGuire’s crash site looking west across the ravine
Bedoria and Mason
at the crash site
5 inch geared pulley
Lockheed P-38 parts manual showing location of
David Mason with Memorial Marker at Crash Site