|Pilot 2nd Lt Marvin B. Rothman, O-678944 (MIA / KIA) Cleveland Heights, OH
Crashed April 11, 1944 at 11:25am
Built by Republic at Farmingdale, NY. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-47D-11-RE Thunderbolt serial number 42-75291. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 58th Fighter Group, 311th Fighter Squadron. Assigned to pilot 2nd Lt. Marvin B. Rothman. Nicknamed "Fascinatin' Phil" on the left side of the nose cowling.
When lost, engine R-2800-63 serial number P11607. Aboard were .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers: 622706 manufactured by High Standard Company plus 917118, 917146, 917217, 917297, 917378, 917113 and 917210 manufactured by Savage Arms Corporation.
On April 11, 1944 one of sixteen P-47s from the 311th Fighter Squadron that took off from Saidor Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt Marvin B. Rothman on a mission to escort B-25 Mitchells attacking Wewak. This P-47 was part of a three plane formation led by P-47D piloted by 2nd Lt. Raymond Evans with P-47 piloted by Lt. Ritter.
Over the target, the American formation was intercepted by six Ki-61 Tonys from the 68th Sentai and four Ki-43 Oscars from the 77th Sentai. The Japanese fighters claimed twelve P-47s shot down, five P-47s probables and a B-25 uncertain victories.
2nd Lt. Raymond E. Evans, via Missing Air Crew Report 5082 (MACR 5082)
"While on an escort mission from Saidor to Wewak on 11 April, 1944, I was leading a three ship flight (one plane snafued over field). My flight was the highest of our formation at 13,000 ft. We were jumped by three Tonies [Ki-61 Tony] out of the sun. The first one I saw pulled straight up over the top of me, evidently he had overshot. I looked back to the right, Lt. Rothman was on my right wing. As this time there was no one firing at him. I then looked back to my left, Lt. Ritter was flying my left wing, and there was a Tony behind him firing. I told Lt. Ritter to break left, but as I found out later, he didn't receive me. He did not break immediately so I broke down to the right. I dove out to about 6,000 ft., Lt. Ritter was with me, but I never saw Lt. Rothman again. I gained altitude behind a thunderhead and circled over the area looking for him. I then sighted a flight of Hamps [actually, Ki-43 Oscars] about 3,000 ft. below me (17,000 ft.), made a pass at one Hamp then dove to deck and returned home. I did not hear Lt. Rothman calling Gardenia."
This P-47 was last sighted at 11:25 hours, south of Boram Airfield at about 10,000' at roughly Lat 3.33 Long 143.36. When this P-47 failed to return and was reported as Missing In Action (MIA). Likely, this aircraft was shot down by Ki-61 Tonys from the 68th Sentai. Two other P-47s from the 311th Fighter Squadron were lost including P-47D 42-22953 (MIA, BR) and P-47D 42-75289 (MIA, BR).
Afterwards, two pairs of 58th Fighter Group P-47 pilots searched 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.
Rothman was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. Rothman is memorialized at the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
In fact, his P-47 crashed into a slope to the east of Brandi inland from the north coast of New Guinea. The crash site was first visited postwar. In 2002 reported by locals from Suanum village for further investigation, including the tail section with the U. S. Army Air Force serial number visible.
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, a RAAF Searcher Team lead by S/Ldr Rundle visited this crash site. During September 1946, remains of the pilot were recovered and handed over to American SRS at Finschahafen.
During July 2004, this P-47 was visited by Brian Bennett on behalf of JPAC who located personal effects and recommended the site for further action.
Brian Bennett adds:
"This crash site is down the north coast from Brandi, I walked up a creek, broken airplane up a steep gravely, shale slope. The plane had come in at an angle and gone straight into a fairly steep slope. The wreckage included most of the tail group and I was able to identify the aircraft from the serial number on the tail and photographed it. I looked around the site, there was a bit of scatter wreckage around, not a lot. The engine was well impacted. The site appeared to me to have been disturbed. Behind the engine, there was a clear, flat area where the RAAF Search team dug during 1946. I did find personal effects that indicated to me the pilot did not get out. This case needs to be reopened and re-examined using the original AGRS records and Manila cemetery and Finchafen cemetery records, to find where his remains were taken. I know there were problems and mix-ups with remains. It is even possible individuals were not exhumed from Finchafen cemetery. This is a case i felt strongly about, because he was recovered, but is still MIA. If this site was re-examined today you would find additional remains."
During August 2009, a team from JPAC conducted a recovery mission at this crash site and recovered additional remains.
On July 28, 2016 the Department of Defense (DoD) issued a news release announcing that Rothman was accounted for and identified. He will be buried on April 19, 2017 at Arlington National Cemetery.
Alan Lichtcsien (2nd cousin of Rothman)
Rothman was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
311th Fighter Squadron records incorrectly have Lt William Graham as the pilot of this aircraft. Graham was MIA piloting P-47D Thunderbolt 42-22953 on the same mission
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Marvin B. Rothman
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-47D-11-RE Thunderbolt 42-75291
"75291 (311th FS, 58th FG, *Fascinatin Phil*) shot down by Ki-61 (Tony) flown by unknown pilot of 68th Sentai Apr 11, 1944, Wewak, PNG. Pilot KIA. MACR 5082. Missing Air Crew Report 5082 (MACR 5082)"
Missing Air Crew Report 5082 (MACR 5082)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Marvin B. Rothman "remains recovered and identified."
FindAGrave - 2Lt Marvin B Rothman (Arlington grave photo)
RAAF Searcher Team Status Card - P-47D 42-75291
"S/Ldr Rundle reports aircraft located in Wewak area. Remains of pilot recovered and have been handed over to American SRS Finschhafen'."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-47D Thunderbolt 42-75291
No Glamour... No Glory! The Story of the 58th Fighter Group of World War II page 103, 127, 128 (photo)
248th Hiko Sentai: A Japanese “Hard luck” Fighter Unit - Part 3 by Richard Dunn
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency - Airman Missing from World War II Accounted For (Rothman) July 28, 2016
DPAA New Release "Ohio Soldier Accounted For From World War II" April 12, 201
"The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has accounted for Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Marvin B. Rothman, 21, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, unaccounted for from World War II. He will be buried April 19 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. In September 1946, a U.S. infantry officer informed the American Graves Registration Service in Finschhafen, New Guinea, that an Australian War Graves team had recovered remains of a suspected American airman from the wreckage of an aircraft with a partial serial number correlating to Rothman's plane. In November 1946, AGRS personnel examined the remains and subsequently tried to confirm the identity based on dental records. However, the dental charts were incomplete and an identification could not be established. Based on the lack of conclusive evidence, in January 1950, an AGRS board declared Rothman to be non-recoverable. In July 2004, a contractor for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command investigated a crash site found by local residents of Suanum Village, East Sepik Province, Paupa New Guinea, finding material evidence an aircraft data plate matching the serial number of Rothman's plane. A U.S. recovery team returned to the site in August 2009 and recovered possible human remains and other artifacts. To identify Rothman's remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological and circumstantial evidence, as well as dental analysis, which matched Rothman's records."
Fox8 "Finally coming home: Remains of missing World War II serviceman returning to family" April 12, 2017
Thanks to Edward Rogers, Brian Bennett and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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February 4, 2018