|Pilot Flight Officer Andrew E. Murray, T-060167 (MIA / KIA) Shreveport, LA
MIA July 15, 1943
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army, model and serial number unknown. Possibly, P-40F Warhawk or P-40M Warhawk. Disassembled and shipped overseas
Assigned to the 18th Fighter Group, 44th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On July 15, 1943 took off from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal on mission piloted by FO Andrew E. Murray on a patrol mission over the Rendova and New Georgia. Although two flights took off only seven P-40s led by 1st Lt. Frank Gaunt with Flight Officer Andrew E. Murray flying as his wingman.
Over the radio, VF-21 reported an incoming formation of Japanese bombers escorted by A6M Zeros over Kolombangara Island and the 44th Fighter Squadron climbed to intercept. Also intercepting were F4F Wildcats from VF-21 and F4U Corsairs from VMF-213.
At 2:30pm at an altitude of 16,000', the P-40s and a single F4U Corsair from a Marine squadron sighted a formation of bombers escorted by Zeros over Vella Lavella and engaged in a dogfight down to sea level off the coast of Ghizo Island.
During the air combat, 1st Lt. Frank Gaunt noticed a Zero on the tail of Murray's aircraft
and turned to shoot it down and almost collided with it, but was too late and observed Murray's P-40 going down on fire.
When this aircraft failed to return, Murray was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost were F4F Wildcat 12059 (MIA) and F4U Corsair 02599 (MIA).
Murray was officially declared dead the day of the mission.
He is memorialized at the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Judd Perry (nephew of Andrew E. Murray)
"My Uncle, Flight Officer Andrew E Murray is still a MIA. He was shot down in the Solomon Islands on July 15, 1943. He was a member of the 44th Fighter Squadron. Aircraft P-40F-15 #116 "Katy Jane" s/n 41-19843."
NARA CINCPAC War Diary July 1 - July 31, 1943
(Page 294) "15 July 1943. 1. Contacts and actions with the enemy in the Pacific Ocean Areas. 0330Z/15 - 27 Jap VB(M)s and 50 zeros were intercepted over Rendova by 44 Blue VF's. 15 VB(M)s and 30 zeros were shot down. We lost 3 pilots."
NARA Second Marine Aircraft Wing War Diary for July 1943
"July 15, 1943 - 1425 - Condition red declared when a large bogey was reported closing. Fighter cover was vectored to intercept them and contact was made at 26,000 feet. Twenty-nine enemy fighters and 15 medium bombers were destroyed as compared with our loss of three fighters. No planes
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Andrew E. Murray
FltOff Andrew E Murray (photos, logbook, tablets of the missing)
13th Fighter Command page 190
Vampire Squadron pages 48-50
Japanese Naval Air Force Fighter Units and Their Aces 1932-1945 page 59, 393
Thanks to Judd Perry and Edward Rogers for additional information
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January 5, 2018