|Pilot Lt. John R. Mulvey, Jr. (rescued)
Ditched February 14, 1943
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank, California. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) P-38G Lightning serial number 43-2???. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 347th Fighter Group, 339th Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
On February 14, 1943 one of ten P-38s that took off from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal piloted by John R. Mulvey, Jr. The formation also included twelve F4U of VMF-124 on an escort mission for nine PB4Y Liberators bombing enemy shipping off southern Bougainville in the Buin-Shortland area.
Over the target, the formation was intercepted by roughly 30 A6M Zeros and 15 A6M2-N Rufe floatplanes from Shortland. Due to the severe American losses, this mission became known as the "Saint Valentines Day Massacre".
Fates of the Pilot
Returning from the mission, Mulvey ditched in the Russell Islands. He was immediately rescued by natives in a canoe from Hai village.
On February 15, 1942 Mulvey was rescued by a PBY Catalina and later returned to duty.
Edward Rogers adds:
"Lt. Mulvey was the only person to return from amongst the crews of the eight U.S. Army Air Force, Marine and Navy aircraft which were lost on the 14 February 1943 mission against Japanese shipping in the Buin Shortlands, aka the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Mulvey did not even have time to climb into his life raft before being plucked from the water by natives in a canoe from the village of Hai. He was picked up at PBY Catalina on 15 February or soon afterwards. The following is an excerpt from an intelligence report in the files of the 347th Fighter Group at the HRA, Maxwell Air Force Base."
347th Fighter Group Advanced Echelon - Combat Report - Fighter Escort February 14, 1943
13th Fighter Command in World War II pages 118 (Feb 14, 1943), 333 (index)
Thanks to Paul Roales and Edward Rogers for additional research and analysis.
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September 25, 2018