|Pilot 2nd Lt. Ralph L. Wire (survived)
Crashed November 22, 1942
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 9th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On November 22, 1942 took off from 3 Mile Drome (Kila) near Port Moresby piloted by Wire on a mission to escort transports bound for Dobodura Airfield. During the flight, Wire was was forced to leave the mission early due to his engine overheating and was forced to bail out near Myola.
Fate of the Pilot
Wire parachuted to the ground safely and landed unhurt. Over the next two days, he walked to Myola where he met Australians who led him over the Kokoda Trail to Kokoda where he was flown from Kokoda Airfield back to Port Moresby and returned to his squadron.
Afterwards, he was transfered to China Burma India (CBI) to the 51st Fighter Group. He retired from the U. S. Air Force (USAF) as a Lieutenant Colonel. He passed away February 6, 1995 and is buried at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery at plot C-3, 0, 478.
History Highlights of the 49th Fighter Group 1941-1946 page 40
"Lt. Wire, R., was forced to leave the mission early due to engine over-heating. He bailed out somewhere near Myola Air Strip. This air field was about fifteen miles SSE from Kokoda Pass and only a Tiger Moth or a Piper Cub could land. It was used for emergency pick-up and to drop supplies to the Australian troops. Lt Wire spent two days spent two days trying to cover the three or four miles before he reached the Australians stationed in Myola, and two more days before he was rescued and returned to his sq."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-40 Kittyhawk piloted by Wesley
AAIR November 1942 USAAF Overseas Accident Reports - P-40E 41-36089 piloted by Wire
Protect & Avenge pages 92, 349
"After an uneventful morning sweep over Buna, Lt. Ralph Wire tried to return in his faltering ship, but bailed out of his smoking stager short of the Moresby area. The lieutenant came to rest on a high plateau near the top of the Owen Stanley range just east of Myola village. Wire had supplies dropped to him by a passing transport and was eventually able to walk down to the Kokoda Trail two days later. Australians took him to the transport strip at Kokoda village and he flew back to 4 Mile Field [sic 3 Mile] after his fifth day of absence."
FindAGrave - Ralph Lester Wire
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information and research
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January 5, 2018