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  P-47D-11-RE "The Golden Gopher" Serial Number 42-75239  
USAAF
5th AF
58th FG
69th FS

Pilot  Captain Harry L. McMullen, O-427454 (rescued) Uniontown, PA
Crashed  May 18, 1944
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Republic at Farmingdale, NY. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 58th Fighter Group, 69th Fighter Squadron. Nicknamed "The Golden Gopher".

Mission History
On May 18, 1944 took off from Saidor Airfield leading a strafing mission against Wewak. Over the target, hit by anti-aircraft fire and set the aircraft on fire. Climbing upward, McMullen bailed out at only 250' and his parachute only made one swing before he hit the ground. Fellow pilots in his squadron saw him land successful and take cover in the jungle, and noted his position near Sani village, about 12 miles from the mouth of the Ramu River.

Fate of the Pilot
The next day, an L-5 piloted by a member of the 69th Fighter Squadron located McMullen who had used his parachute to indicate his position at the edge of a clearing. The L-5 dropped an M-1 carbine, ammunition, machete, food, medical supplies, blankets and letters from his girlfriend at home.

Rescue
Eleven days later, L-5 piloted by Lt. Guy Johnson landed in a kunai grass covered clearing, but was unable to take off. Together, Johnson and McMullen worked for two day to clear a runway in the grass. On May 31, the L-5 attempted to take off twice but was unable to get airborne until the third try and returned to base.

References
USAAF Status Card P-47D 42-75239
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-47D Thunderbolt 42-75239
Pittsburgh Post Gazette "Uniontown Flier Saved After 13 Days in Jungle" June 29, 1944
The P-47 Thunderbolt by Len Morgan, page 10
Air Force Historical Research Agency IRISNUM: 00057124 includes data on the rescue of McMullen
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

Tech Info
P-47

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