|Pilot 2nd Lt. Jesse R. "Toughy" Hague, O-425516 (MIA / KIA) Iowa
Crashed August 2, 1942
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number BX232 and painted in a three-color camouflage scheme. Instead, delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter Group, 41st Fighter Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
On August 2, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby along with two other Airacobras: P-400 piloted by Lt Jack Wilson and P-400 AP290 piloted by Dore on a mission to escort B-26 Marauders from the 22nd Bombardment Group on a bombing mission over Buna. Over the target, this aircraft was shot down by A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai over the Ambasi area. Hague managed to ditch into the sea near the Ambasi Mission and swam ashore unhurt.
Fate of the Pilot
After swimming ashore at Ambasi, Hague joined a group of downed American aviators and Australian Army spotters. Later, they join Anglican missionaries Reverend James Benson, May Hayman and Mavis Parkins from Gona Anglican Mission. The group tried to escape inland but were found near Dobudura No. 2.
Haugh was last seen by Reverend James Benson firing his Tommy gun at the Japanese while attempting to lead them away from the group. He was never seen again, and presumably caught and killed by the Japanese.
After the war the graves of those killed in this incident were found, and their remains recovered. Hauge was never found and is still listed as Missing In Action (MIA). He is not known to be a Japanese Prisoner Of War (POW). Likely, his remains were buried in an isolated burial where he was buried by Japanese or local people.
Hague was officially declared dead December 17, 1945. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Hague also has a memorial marker at Oakdale Cemetery in Adel, Iowa.
Postwar, this Airacobra was located a RAAF Searcher Team who incorrectly identified it as P-39 400232.
Hague was nicknamed "Toughy". Hearned the Air Medal and Purple Heart (posthumously). Posthumously, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.
History of the 41st Fighter Squadron Chapter 2 - 1 May to Sept. 30, 1942
"2 August, 1943: Lt. Hague was shot down. However, no one saw him go down. He reported in the next day, August 3rd by radio from Ambadi [sic] that he was OK, and that he dragged a dead Jap with him."
Kodochosho, Tainan Kōkūtai August 2, 1942
[Action Report, Tainain Air Group] pages 211-212
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Jesse R. Hague
FindAGrave - 1Lt Jesse Robert Hague (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Jesse Robert Hague (memorial marker photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-39 (P-400) Airacobra BX 232
Prisoner's Base and Home Again page 35, 37-38
"After about a minute, I heard more firing, again over to the right. Then several times I heard Joe’s [Jesse R. Hague] tommy gun roar out, each time getting father and farther away."
Joe Baugher "Airacobra I for RAF, P-400"
Eagles of the Southern Sky page 124 incorrectly states Hague bailed out and his fate is unknown
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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January 5, 2018