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|Pilot 2nd Lt. Clarence E. Sanford (survived) Syracuse, NY
Ditched March 14, 1942
At 11:45am took off again from Horn Island Airfield at 11:45am one of nine P-40E Warhawks led by Captain Bob Morrissey scrambling to intercept an incoming formation of Japanese aircraft including G4M1 Betty bombers and A6M2 Zeros from the 4th Kōkūtai. Lt. Sanford was flying as the third plane in "A" Flight, with Captain Morrissey, Lt. House and Lt. Burtnette. They took off at 15 second intervals.
At 10,000 feet to the south of Horn Island they charged their guns. At this time bombs started to hit the western end of Horn Island Airfield. Intercepting the enemy fighters, Sanford was last seen being chased by an enemy aircraft, and found himself alone after the combat, with landing gear the would not stay retracted and spewing oil.
Flying south, he became disoriented in the haze above Torres Strait he actually overflew Horn Island and then continued to fly 400 miles across the Gulf of Carpentaria while trying to find the coastline of the Cape York Peninsula. Out of fuel, he ditched into the sea off off Cape Arnhem in the Northern Territory. When he failed to return, Sanford was declared Missing In Action (MIA) until reported to be alive by the RAAF the next day.
Fate of the Pilot
After he recovered, Sanford was transported by motor launch to the RAAF Hospital at Darwin then the 1st Evacuation Hospital at Brisbane and finally back to the United States for hospitalization at Walter Ried Hospital until December 1942.
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