|Pilot Captain Paul G. Brown, O-417000 (MIA / KIA) Oak Park, IL
MIA September 25, 1942
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 36th Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
On September 23, 1942, one of 22 P-39s that took off from Ross River Airfield near Townsville with refueling stops at Coen Airfield and Port Moresby, then onto Milne Bay. During this flight, two Airacobras experienced engine trouble and landed at Mareeba Airfield.
Brown followed them down to land, to expedite their repair and escort them for the remainder of the flight. After landing and determining the problems with the Airacobras, Brown volunteered to fly back to Townsville for parts and return. Also, to escort them on the remainder of the flight because they were unfamiliar with the flight path.
On September 25, 1942 took off from Mareeba Airfield at at 7:00am solo on a flight bound for Garbutt Airfield near Townsville for the needed parts, arriving at approximately 8:00. After picking up the parts, he departed at approximately 9:00am for the flight back to Mareeba Airfield, but failed to arrive. A weather front was moving through the area at roughly 9:45. His fate is unknown, but presumed lost due to bad weather or mechanical failure.
Confusion over his status happened because Mareeba Airfield changed the day of his departure, and was unaware that he had failed to arrive. On September 28, all aircraft in the area were told to look for him for two days. The 19th Bombardment Group committed a B-17 on the search efforts.
Brown was Initially declared dead on September 27, 1942 incorrectly. Afterwards, his status was changed to Missing In Action (MIA). Officially declared dead on September 25, 1943. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Previously, pilot Brown survived several other Airacobra crashed including force landing P-39D 41-6982 on April 30, 1942 and another P-39 on May 17, 1942. He claimed three Japanese fighters shot down on May 13, May 14 and May 18, 1942. Also, he claimed three damaged. Brown earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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January 5, 2018