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|Pilot 1st Lt. John F. Crowley, O-794472 (MIA / KIA) Elmhurst, NY
Crashed January 23, 1944
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-40N Warhawk serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group "Fighting 49ers", 7th Fighter Squadron "Screamin' Demons". No known nickname or nose art.
On January 23, 1944 took off from Guasap Airfield piloted by 1st Lt. John F. Crowley as part of "Red Flight" to provide high cover on a patrol over Wewak. "Red Flight" was led by flight leader was Robert DeHaven with wingman was Marion Hawke. This aircraft was element leader with wingman was Jack Suggs.
Over the target, intercepted by Japanese fighters, Crowley dropped to a low altitude near the surface of the sea. Crowley was observed flying at 1,500' when he nosed over and crashed into Dallman Harbor near Cape Moem, the pilot was not seen to bail out. Several pilots and crews observed Crowley's plane hit the water and he was the only aircraft lost on mission. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Likely, this aircraft was shot down by Ki-43 Oscar pilot Nongo. That same mission, Nongo was shot down by DeHaven.
The wreckage of a P-40, believed to be this aircraft is upside down at a depth of 20'-30' on a sandy bottom upside down with the tail section missing in Boram Bay north of Brandi, east of Cape Moem and Wewak. In 2004, dived by John Douglas and Justin Taylan. The identity has not been confirmed, but Crowley's is the only P-40 known to be lost in this precise area.
John Douglas adds:
"The tail is missing. The machine guns are gone, possibly salvaged during the war, as the Japanese had a large camp on the nearby beach. One possibility is a P-40 that was seen to roll over and crash into the sea, if so, probably an MIA case."
Justin Taylan adds:
"I dove this wreck twince with John Douglas. The first time was during November 2003 during the wet season and the sea was very murky water. The second time was in early August 2004 and the sea was very clear."
Crowley was declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John F. Crowley
49th Fighter Group microfilm C0131 frame 2104
News "Lt. J. F. Crowley Army Fighter Pilot Elmhurst Man Killed In New Guinea" 1944
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-40 Kittyhawk piloted by Crowley
American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) - John Francis Crowley
FindAGrave - 1Lt John Francis Crowley (photo, obituary, tablets of the missing)
Protect & Avenge page 229-230, 355 (index Crowley)
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