|Pilot Captain Herschel A. Brown, O-663011 (MIA / KIA, BR) Butler County, KS
MIA February 22, 1944
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South Pacific and reassembled.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 347th Fighter Group, 68th Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. When lost engine V-1710-85 serial number 42-38575. Weapon serial numbers not noted in Missing Air Crew Report 2609 (MACR 2609).
On February 22, 1944 took off at 9:30am from Torokina Airfield on Bougainville on a local test hop flight. The weather was cloudy with visibility of 10-15 miles. Last seen over the airfield on a course of 330°. When this aircraft failed to return, it was declared Missing In Action (MIA). At the time of the loss, it was believed this aircraft suffered an engine failure and crashed into the jungle or into Empress Augusta Bay. Short distances from the Allied perimeter were enemy territory and his status was listed as "Missing In Action - Battle Casualty". He may or may not have been shot down by enemy ground fire.
When this Airacobra failed to return, aerial searches were organized and carried out by sixteen aircraft during 11:20am to 6:20pm that same day. The land area of Bougainville and surrounding islands were also searched as well as the surface of the sea. The results of all searches were negative. All flights in the area were instructed to continue searching when returning from missions.
Sometime after the crash, this aircraft was found at roughly Lat 5.23 Long 154.41 near Kunua. Brown's remains were recovered, details unknown.
Brown was officially declared dead on February 22, 1944. After his remains were recovered, he was permanently buried at Sunset Lawns Cemetery (West Cemetery) in El Dorado, KS.
Missing Air Crew Report 2609 (MACR 2609)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39Q Airacobra 42-20107
RAAF Survey of Aircraft Wreckage in Papua and New Guinea page 9 "#347 - 5.43-154.41 - Kunua - Bougainville USAC Airacobra P-39 42-20107 - Wreckage recovered near Kunua"
FindAGrave - Herschel Arden Brown (grave)
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for additional information
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February 4, 2018