|Pilot Captain Joseph P. McLaughlin, O-396289 (MIA / KIA / BR) Missoula, MT
Crashed March 10, 1942
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Curtiss-Wright Manufacture Number 16518. Delivered to the U. S. Army as P-40W Warhawk Serial Number 41-5526. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia.
During early March 1942,
reassembled by 4th Air Depot Group at Laverton Field. On March 5, 1942 or March 8, 1942 took off from Laverton Field piloted by Captain McLaughlin on a flight to Fairbairn Field.
On March 10, 1942 took off from Fairbairn Field at 8:00am for a the return flight bound for Laverton Field. During the flight, this P-40 was spotted over the Victorian town of Yea at approximately 10:10am, and appeared to be turning for Alexandra. He was last seen flying very low over the mountain tops. The land was mountainous and the weather was stormy. Reports were received that a large smoke cloud was seen coming from Chapel Mountain.
Afterwards, search parties were sent out from Yea, Alexandra and Buxton, but all returned negative results.
During December 1948, the crash site was found near Walhalla, Victoria. At that time, Captain McLaughlin's remains were recovered and returned to the US in 1949, but were unable to be identified. The unidentified remains were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at plot P, grave 1035.
During the 1950s, a watch, engraved with Capt McLaughlin's name, was found at the site by locals. Later, a revolver with McLaughlin's name on it was also found.
Due to the efforts of Australian historian Rick Hanning who researches World War II casualties in the Gippsland area near Melbourne and volunteers at the Gippsland Armed Forces Museum, research proved a link between the remains buried as an unknown to be McLaughlin.
On March 3, 2004 the unidentified remains associated with this site were exhumed from Hawaii. They were identified and it was concluded they belonged to a 20-26 year old male who stood approximately 64.4 inches tall (Capt McLaughlin was 25.5 years old and stood 65 inches tall).
During March 8-15, 2004, a team from Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) visited the crash site and located Capt McLaughlin's pilot's wings. A strut from the wreckage confirmed the aircraft was a P-40.
McLaughlin was officially declared dead on October 3, 1943. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. He also has a memorial marker at Missoula Cemetery in Missoula, MT.
In 2004 McLaughlin was removed from the Missing In Action (MIA) list and a rosette added next to his tablets of the missing name to indicate he was recovered. On April 10, 2006 McLaughlin's remains were buried at the Arlington National Cemetery at section 60, grave 749.
On April 10, 2016, Hanning and McLaughlin's family members
visited his grave on the tenth anniversary of the burial and read poems.
A display is devoted to Captain McLaughlin and this Warhawk at Gippsland Armed Forces Museum.
Capt McLaughlin's older brother, 2nd Lt. Robert McLaughlin of the 82nd Airborne Division, was killed on June 8, 1944 in Normandy, France.
Julie A Raupp (1st cousin once removed of McLaughlin)
"Joseph P McLaughlin was the 1st cousin of my father, John Richard Eddy. His father C. Harold Eddy and Lela Elna Eddy McLaughlin were brother and sister. I believe that makes him my 1st cousin once removed. There are links on Joseph P McLaughlin’s memorial to his mother, then my grandfather and then to my father."
Missing Aircrew Report 16535 (MACR 16535) lists aircraft's serial number as "P-40E 40-559"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Joseph P. McLaughlin
Australia @ War - Crash of a P-40E Kittyhawk into a Mountain at Aberfeldy in Victoria on 10 March 1942
Lists aircraft as P-40E 41-5526
Joe Baugher's USAF Aircraft Serial Number lists: Curtiss P-40E Warhawk 41-5526 (4th Air Depot Group) crashed into mountain near Aberfeldy, Victoria, Australia Mar 10, 1942.
Missoulian "Missoula pilot's long goodbye: More than 60 years after Australia crash, Missoula man's remains identified" November 3, 2005
FindAGrave - Capt Joseph P McLaughlin (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Joseph P McLaughlin (Arlington National Cemetery photo)
FindAGrave - Capt Joseph P McLaughlin (Missoula Cemetery memorial marker)
The Latrobe Valley Express "In Pursuit of the Truth" by Emma Watson 2016
Thanks to Rick Hanning and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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January 5, 2018