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3rd Air Commando Group
|Pilot 2nd Lt. Earnest R. Alexander, O-675811 (MIA / KIA) TX
MIA February 27, 1945
Bollinger and Alexander were last seen entering clouds and were never seen again. This aircraft and P-51D 44-63338 piloted by Bollinger failed to arrive. Both pilots were officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
The remainder of the formation reached Morotai or returned to Biak. Leavitt turned back and landed safely at Biak. McKissack and Royal made it through the bad weather and landed at Morotai. Elliot and Harrison were delayed taking off from Biak and reached Morotai without incident.
David Forrester adds:
The Air Clearance for the flight had Alexander listed in aircraft “293” and Bollinger in “338”. The RAAF Searcher records have Alexander’s aircraft number as 44-25293 (a canceled P-82B), however 44-23293 was a P-51D-20-NA Mustang (no further info). It is possible that this was the aircraft of 2nd Lt Earnest R. Alexander. As these were replacement aircraft being ferried to the 3rd ACG, is it reasonable to assume that they would be from the same batch? That is, P-51D-20-NA 44-23338 was the aircraft of 2nd Lt Leon A. Bollinger?"
Fate of the Pilot
On March 11, 1945 both were turned over to the Japanese and became Prisoners Of War (POW). Both men attempted to escape. On March 26, 1945 both were killed by a Japanese Army 20 man patrol.
During the middle of May 1945, an Australian Army 'J' Mission, Far Eastern Liaison Office (FELO) inserted an intelligence gathering party on Obi Island that learned two American pilots, Alexander and Bollinger were captured by locals and turned over to the Japanese.
Their bodies were not buried but at the end of the Pacific War the Japanese built a "burial ground" for them at Seri village (it is not clear if any remains were buried there or not. His remains were never recovered and he remains listed as Missing In Action.
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