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  P-38L-5-LO Lightning Serial Number 44-26538  
5th AF
8th FG
36th FS

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Richard Stier 1945

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Dick Kustra 2001
Pilot  1st Lt. Richard P. Stier (KIA, BR) Milwaukee, WI
Crashed  July 13, 1945
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Delivered to the U. S. Army. This aircraft was unpainted in a natural aluminum finish. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 36th Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On July 13, 1945 took off from Murtha Airfield on Mindoro one of four P-38s on an orientation flight for two new pilots: 1st Lt. Stier piloting this aircraft and P-38 Lightning piloted by 2nd Lt. Donald Henderson, flying in the number 2 position. As part of the orientation, the two experienced pilots showed the new pilots the various airfields in the southwest corner of Mindoro. Both new pilots were tested by the flight leader in an exercise called "rat racing", a series of maneuvers that one might use in aerial dog fights. As part of this "rat racing," the flight leader took the group into a split-S dive through clouds. Lt. Henderson and Lt. Stier never pulled out of their dive. The reason for this is unknown. possibly vertigo or wing compressibility problem inherent to P-38's during dives, or the possibility that Henderson and Stier collided in the clouds. When Stier failed to return, he was listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was P-38L piloted by Henderson.

Recovery of Remains
A body part suspected to be one of the pilots who crashed was found about three miles out at sea off the southwest coast of Mindoro on July 14, 1945, a day after this accident. In the late 1940's by the process of elimination, American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) in Manila assessed that the (then MIA) body part found on July 14, 1945 was probably part of Lt. Stier's remains.

Stier was officially declared dead the day of the mission. After his remains were identified, they were transported to the United States for permanent burial in the early 1950s at Holy Cross Cemetery & Mausoleum in Milwaukee, WI at block 1, section 1, lot 267

Gerry Stier (widow of Stier)
Mary Beth Kustra (daughter of Stier)
"My mother, Gerry Stier was 78 years old when she made the trip to the Philippines. She had never remarried."
Kathleen Rockweiler (daughter of Stier)

Richard P. Stier - Missing P-38L Lightning crash site on Mindoro
FindAGrave - Lieut Richard P Stier
Thanks to Mary Beth Kustra and Dick Kustra for additional information

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Last Updated
June 29, 2019


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