|Pilot Major Floyd Joaquim Pell, O-20701 C.O. 33rd PS (KIA) UT
Crashed February 19, 1942
Pell attended the United States Military Academy West Point class of 1937. He attended flight school at Kelly Field during 1938. On December 17, 1941 Pell arrived in Australia to begin arrangements for the use of Australian facilities by the Far East Air Force (FEAF) and began to survey airfields, facilities and fuel availability in the Northern Territory. Nicknamed "Slugger". Assigned as 33rd Pursuit Squadron (Provisional) commanding officer until his death.
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Assigned to the U. S. Army, serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the Far East Air Force (FEAF), 33rd Pursuit Squadron (Provisional). Squadron number 28 was painted in black. Assigned to pilot Robert Vaught.
On February 19, 1942 Major Pell commandeered this aircraft for a flight to Koepang Airfield because his P-40 Tail Number 3 had a coolant leak. Took off from Darwin Airfield at 9:15am leading "A Flight", with "B Flight" behind, following B-17E "San Antonio Rose II" 41-2447, but experienced thick clouds and the flight was aborted and the P-40s returned to Darwin Airfield, landing at 9:50 and parked by 10:00. Ground crews pointed to incoming Japanese aircraft.
Pell released his drop tank on the ground while his crew chief Roy Bopp dragged it away, then took off from Darwin Airfield attempting to intercept attacking Japanese aircraft, but was shot down by an A6M2 Zero. Pell bailed at 100' and was killed when he hit the ground before his parachute could open landing 300 yards from his P-40 that crashed ahead of him, sheering off its wings as it crashed northeast of the airfield on a tidal flat known as Cameron's Beach.
The attacking A6M2 Zero returned and strafed the wreckage, exploding it.
Recovery of Remains
Moments after the crash, Australians reached the crash site and retrieved Pell's body.
Pell was initially buried at Adelaide River, NT on February 20, 1942. In Darwin, Pell Airfield was named in honor of Major Pell. Next, Pell was buried at USAF Cemetery in Rookwood, Sydney. Postwar, In accordance with Pell's wish to be buried at West Point, postwar his body was shipped via Honolulu back to the United States and buried the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery (West Point Cemetery) during May 1948 at section VII site 52.
Every Day A Nightmare page153 (photo), 224-226, 228, 235, 236 (photo), 237, 255 (map)
Darwin's Air War (Revised Edition) page 16,
27, 29-33 (photo)
FindAGrave - Floyd J Pell (grave photo)
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January 5, 2018