John Ralph Mulvey, Jr. was born March 8, 1920 in Houston, Harris County, Texas. He enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as an aviation cadet. He earned his wings and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with serial number O-409685 and sent overseas to the South Pacific (SOPAC).
Assigned to the 13th Air Force (13th AF), 347th Fighter Group (347th FG), 339th Fighter Squadron (339th FS) as a P-38 Lightning pilot and flew combat missions in the South Pacific between February 1943 until February 1944.
On February 14, 1943 took off from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal piloted P-38G Lightning as one of ten P-38G Lightnings flying high cover escorting nine PB4Y-1 Liberators bombing Japanese shipping off southern Bougainville in the Buin-Shortland area. Also escorting were twelve F4U Corsairs from VMF-124 flying close cover. The weather was clear with scattered clouds. After the bomb run, the formation was intercepted by Japanese Zeros and floatplane fighters and engaged in air combat with the U. S. formation. Returning, Mulvey joined the formation of PB4Y-1 Liberators and observed one bomber make a crash landing to the northeast of
Vangunu and did not observe any survivors. Low on fuel
from excessive maneuvering, Mulvey flew as far back to base as possible before he ran out of fuel and ditched into Sunlight Channel in the Russell Islands. Due to the severe American losses, this mission became known as the "Saint Valentines Day Massacre". During the ditching, Mulvey's head impacted the windscreen causing a slight injury. His P-38 sank within 30 seconds and while he was preparing his life raft, a native canoe reached him transported him to Hai village on Hai Island (Moko) where he was introduced to the head man and received a friendly reception. Next, taken to the coastwatcher in the area where a radio message was transmitted and signal panels laid out to signal U. S. planes. On February 15, 1943 in the morning, rescued by PBY Catalina and flown to Guadalcanal and rejoined his squadron.
On April 10, 1943 took off flying a P-38 Lightning escorting twenty-one B-24 Liberators on a bombing mission against Kahili Airfield on Bougainville. Mulvey claimed a Zero, his first aerial victory claim (officially credited).
On September 23, 1943 took off leading a formation of P-38 Lightnings on a mission escorting twenty-one B-24 Liberators on a bombing mission against Kahili Airfield on Bougainville. Intercepted by roughly forty Zeros but only a few pressed attacks.
On October 4, 1943 Mulvey took off as one of twenty P-38 Lightnings flying high cover for B-24 Liberators on a bombing mission against Kahili Airfield on Bougainville. After releasing their bombs, the B-24s were intercepted and the P-38s dove to intercept with Mulvey claiming a Zero shot down (not officially credited).
On October 10, 1943 Mulvey took off piloting a P-38 Lightnings on a mission to escort B-24 Liberators on a bombing mission against Kahili Airfield on Bougainville. Also escorting were P-38s from the 44th Fighter Squadron. Over the target, he claimed an aerial victory (officially credited) plus a probable (not officially credited).
On October 19, 1943, Mulvey took off piloting a P-38 Lightning as one of thirteen P-38s escorting twenty-four B-24 Liberators on a bombing mission against Kara Airfield on Bougainville. Returning, saw a P-38 crash into the sea after an aerial collision and crash into the sea a few miles east of Masamaso Island and another P-38 smoking. He observed the loss of P-38H 42-66626 (MIA) and P-38H 42-66888 (MIA).
On October 27, 1943 Mulvey took off from Munda Airfield on New Georgia piloting a P-38 Lightning as part of a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) at 20,000' over the Treasury Islands covering the Allied landings. During the patrol, Mulvey, Haggard, Pederson and Turner had to return to base early.
Mulvey was promoted to the rank of Captain.
On February 27, 1944 Mulvey took off from Stirling Airfield piloting a P-38 Lightning armed with bombs on a dive bombing and strafing mission over Rabaul.
Aerial victory claims
Mulvey claimed three aerial victories and a probable. He was officially credited with two aerial victory claims.
||Notes on claim
||First aerial victory claim.
||Aerial victory claim, not officially credited.
||Second aerial victory claim.
||Probable victory, not officially credited.
On March 27, 1944 he returned to the United States. On April 12, 1944 he married Margaret Bogar of Houston, Texas. For his World War II service, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Air Medal with three clusters, was credited with three zeros (officially credited with two Zeros).
Mulvey and his wife resided in Houston, Texas.
Mulvey passed away on March 9, 1990 at the age of 70. His burial is unknown, presumed to be in Texas.
Margaret “Margie” Catherine Bogar (wife, passed away May 25, 2013)
John Ralph Mulvey, III (son)
Margaret Mary Mulvey Silman (daughter)
Patrick B. Mulvey (son)
347th Fighter Group Advanced Echelon - Combat Report - Fighter Escort February 14, 1943
347th Fighter Group Advanced Echelon APO 709 "Preliminary Intelligence Summary of Operations of Army Fighter Planes at Cactus - December 1, 1942 to February 17, 1943" February 21, 1943
(Page 3) "Date: 2/14 Type: P-38 How Lost: Force landing near Russell Islands. Pilot: Lt. Mulvey - rescued."
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram morning edition, April 22, 1944
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: Mulvey John R Jr page 139 (PDF page 146)
Guadalcanal and the Origins of the 13th Air Force page 182, 240 [PDF] via Wayback Machine May 20, 2006
(Page 182) "Next day [February 14, 1943] the Liberators tried again. Nine more went up to Buin, accompanied this time by 10 P-38's and 12 of the Marine's new F4U's. Again the Jap sent up 45 fighters to intercept, and again the cost was heavy. One B-24 [PB4Y-1] was shot down in a head-on attack, another crash landed off New Georgia; two of the Corsairs went down, while the 339th Fighter Squadron, on one of its blackest days, lost 4 of its P-38's. Bombers and escorts had shot down [claimed] 12 Zeros and the B-24s sank a large cargo vessel 2 miles off Kahili, but the price was too high. [Footnote 17] It was immediately apparent that operations of this type could not long be sustained. Consequently on 14 February daylight attacks on the Buin area were discontinued until more adequate fighter cover could be provided. [Footnote 18]"
(Page 240) "Footnote 17. Ibid. War Diary, MAW-2, 14 Feb. 1943; History of the 339th Fighter Squadron (TE). One of the P-38 pilots, Lt. John R. Mulvey, was rescued the following day.
Footnote 18. War Diary, MAW-2, 14 Feb. 1943; incl. (War Diary MAG-12), "Record of Events, Fighter Command, Guadalcanal, February 1, 1943 to July 25, 1943," in USMC Hist. Div. files."
History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II (1952) by Robert Sherrod page 135
13th Fighter Command In World War II (2004) by William Wolf pages 118 (Feb 14, 1943), 205 (Sept 23, 1943), 213 (Oct 4, 1943), 215 (Oct 10, 1943), 218 (Oct 27, 1943), 333 (index Mulvey)
(Page 118) "Four 339FS pilots were lost: Joseph Frinkenstein [Finkenstein]; Wellman Huey; John Mulvey; and Donald White. Mulvey ditched and was rescued near Russell Island the next day."
Fold3 - John R Mulvey
UTA Libraries - Captain John Ralph Mulvey Junior, P-38 Pilot (photo)
Regis & Lana's Carr Family Tree - John Ralph Mulvey Jr.
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis