|Pilot 1st Lt. Wesley B. Empey, O-727431 (MIA / KIA) UT
MIA January 16, 1944 at 11:30am
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-39Q-1-BE Airacobra serial number 42-19469. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the Central Pacific and reassembled.
Assigned 7th Air Force, 318th Fighter Group, 72nd Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. When lost, engine V1710-85 serial number 42-96746. Armed with four .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers: 41-17888, 293459, 40512, 298564 and 37mm cannon serial number 1888.
On January 16, 1944 took off from Makin Airfield on an escort mission and strafe Mille Island. This aircraft was observed to crash into the sea two or three miles west of Mille Island by 2nd Lt. Abel Morales, who did not see the pilot bail out and when he circled the crash, saw only an oil slick. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Empey was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing, court 7.
Empey also has a memorial marker at Memory Grove Memorial in Salt Lake City, UT.
Todd Graf adds:
"My grandfather's only brother, also his only sibling, was one of those lost, Willard 'Blake' Empey."
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-39Q-1-BE Airacobra Serial Number 42-19469
"19469 (318th FG) lost Jan 16, 1944. MACR 1903"
Missing Air Crew Report 1903 (MACR 1903)
Empey was declared dead on October 30, 1944
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) Wesley B. Empey
FindAGrave - 1Lt Wesley B Empey (courts of the missing photo)
Wesley Blake Empey (memorial marker Memory Grove Memorial photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Wesley B Empey (memorial marker Memory Grove Memorial photo)
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January 22, 2019