|Pilot 2nd Lt. Thomas E. Bullington, Jr., O-678826 (KIA, BR) Fort Worth, TX
Crashed April 11, 1944
Built by Republic at Farmingdale, NY. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 58th Fighter Group, 311th Fighter Squadron. Nicknamed "Cowtown Cyclone" with the nose art of a cyclone and star of Texas. This noseart was painted by squadron mate Anthony Kupferer, the first aircraft in the squadron to be nicknamed. When lost, engine R-2800-63 serial number P11431. Weapon serial numbers noted in MACR. This aircraft operated from Dobodura No. 7 near Dobodura from late December 1943 until early April 1944, then operated from Saidor Airfield.
On April 11, 1944 one of sixteen P-47s from the 311th Fighter Squadron that took off from Saidor Airfield piloted by Bullington on a mission to escort B-25 Mitchells over Wewak.
Over the target, the American formation was intercepted by six Ki-68 Tonys of the 68th Sentai and four Ki-43 Oscars of the 77th Sentai. The Japanese fighters claimed twelve P-47s shot down, five P-47s probables and a B-25 uncertain (in reality, three P-47's did not return from the mission).
This aircraft was last seen flying with P-47D 42-22953 southeast of Boram Airfield in the direction of Brandi Plantation near Wewak. At the time of last sighting, neither P-47 appeared to be under attack by enemy aircraft or anti-aircraft fire.
This aircraft failed to return from the mission and was reported as Missing In Action (MIA). Two other P-47s from the 311th Fighter Squadron were also lost including P-47D 42-75291 and P-47D 42-22953.
Afterwards, two pairs of 58th FG P-47 pilots were sent to search for the three missing aviators. One pair was Lt. John Rowland and Lt Clement Theed, Jr., both from the 310th Fighter Squadron. During the search mission, P-47D 42-76059 piloted by Theed crash roughly ten miles southwest of Wewak.
Postwar, US Army AGRS located the wreckage of this aircraft and recovered the remains of the pilot near Urimo Mission. Possibly, located near position Lat 03.34 Long 143.38 according to RAAF records. The remains of the pilot were recovered from the crash site and were transported to the United States.
Officially, Bullington's presumptive date of his death was established as February 6, 1946. During 1949, Bullington was buried at Greenwood Memorial Park Cemetery.
No Glamour... No Glory! The Story of the 58th Fighter Group of World War II page 104 (photo), 127
Lt. Bullington had been scheduled to go on leave to Sydney the next day with his two tentmates Lts Kupferer and Foster. "Despite objection, Foster and Kupferer were ordered to leave on an available C-47 early the next morning, without further knowledge of their missing tent mate, who had been scheduled to go with them. Departing Port Moresby the next morning, they reported to the leave C-47 and found it had a name prominently displayed on the nose under the pilot's compartment, the "Wabash Cannonball". By a a strange coincidence that had been Bullington's favorite song."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-47D Thunderbolt 42-75289
"Fort Worth Lieutenant Missing in New Guinea" circa 1944
WIX - Photos, letters, log book of P47 pilot killed WWII in trash July 5, 2012
248th Hiko Sentai: A Japanese “Hard luck” Fighter Unit - Part 3 by Richard Dunn
FindAGrave - Thomas E. Bullington (grave photo)
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February 4, 2018