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  PBM-3D Mariner Bureau Number 45216 Code 16-P-13
USN
VP-16

Pilot  Lt. Harry R. Flachsbarth, O-098490 USNR (MIA / KIA) Cook County, IL
Crew  Ensign Lyman E. Benson, O-290696 USNR (MIA / KIA) Highland Park, IL
Crew  Ensign Larsen G. Ruth, O-244353 USN (MIA / KIA) AZ
Crew  ARM3c Cecil Hertford Wiggs, 6566632 USNR (MIA / KIA) Sampson County, NC
Crew  AMM3c Austin Earl Hoskins, 3379787 USNR (MIA / KIA) MO
Crew  AMM2c
George Plant, 7262042 USNR (MIA / KIA) IL
Crew  AMM1c Robert Eugene Wise, 6261883 USNR (MIA / KIA) IN
Crew  ARM3c James Terry Greenfield, 5640403 USNR (MIA / KIA) CA
Crew  S1c Lee Roy Douglas, 6714690 USNR (MIA / KIA) CA
Crew  AMM3c Alexander Hilton, 350060 USNR (MIA / KIA) TX
Crew  AOM3c Wallace Blackwell Grant, USNR (MIA / KIA) Patten, ME
MIA  June 21, 1944


Aircraft History
Built by Martin as a model 162D. Delivered to the United States Navy (USN) as PBM-3D Mariner bureau number 45216.

Wartime History
Assigned to Patrol Squadron Sixteen (VP-16) with squadron code 16-P-13. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On June 21, 1944 took off from Tanapag Harbor off Saipan piloted by Lt. Harry R. Flachsbarth on a night patrol mission to the west of Saipan. Before midnight, the last transmission to base was "investigating suspicious vessel". No other messages were received and efforts to reestablish communication were unsuccessful. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA) on June 22, 1944.

In fact, this Mariner spotted U. S. Navy (USN) vessels from Carrier Task Group (CTG 58) at 11:12pm at roughly Lat 15-06N, Long 139-20E and made a low approach to within 8,000 yards of destroyers screening the force that opened fire in defense. This Mariner was shot down in flames. After the crash, USS Brown (DD-546) investigated the crash site and located a wing tip pontoon and recovering printed matter which identified the plane as friendly. On June 23, 1945 CTG 58 reported the friendly fire shoot down to squadron VP-16 with profound regrets.

Memorials
The entire crew of eleven were officially declared dead on June 22, 1945.

The following crew are memorialized at the courts of the missing at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the Courts of the Missing. Ruth on court 1. Flachsbarth, Greenfield, Hilton and Hoskins court 3.

The following crew are memorialized at at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing: Benson, Douglas and Wiggs.

Hoskins also had a memorial service on August 26, 1945 at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church.
Wiggs also has a memorial marker at Pinecrest Cemetery in Warsaw, NC.
Wise also has a memorial marker at Union Center Cemetery in Nappanee, IN.

Relatives
Steve Hoskins (nephew of Hoskins)
"Hoskins was my dads cousin they were the same age and both served in the South Pacific Dad was on the USS North Carolina and as far as I know I am the only one in the family that still has this memorial pamphlet that I had found in dads things so this is all I have to go on."

References
Navy Serial Number Search Results - PBM-3D Mariner 45216
"45216 (VP-16) missing on combat patrol 6/22/1944. 11 MIA"
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List June 1945 - PBM-3D 45216

NARA VP-16 War Diary June 1945 pages 7-8
(Page 7) 22 June 1944: Six planes returned safely from night patrol operations with the exception of the following... 16-P-13, Lieut. Flachsbarth in command did not return. His last transmission to the base was: 'investigating suspicious vessel.' All efforts to reestablish communications with this plane were unsuccessful, and no report from other units furnished any information as to the planes' fate until 23, when the following dispatch was received from CTG 58:
'A friendly aircraft was shot down by ships of my division at 2312 King 21 June at Lat 15-06N, Long 139-20E. This plane appeared on the radar screen shortly unidentified aircraft had been picked up. Although it showed no IFF [Identification Friend or Foe] there was doubt as to its identity because of reports of search plane with IFF inoperative. Efforts were made to contact this plane by all communication channels available without success. The Marshall of DESDIV 104 which was in vicinity reported the same result. COMDESDIV 104 upon request stated that he had been unable to identify the aircraft as friendly. The aircraft seemed to be investigating DESDIV 92 and DESDIV 104. It maneuvered just out of range for some time and then started an approach on the Division at an altitude sufficiently low to make it clearly visible on the SG radar screen. Evasive tactics were being employed by the Division during the entire period of contact. Upon observing the apparently hostile approach of the aircraft several ships of the division requested permission to open fire. I granted permission to open fire if the plane approached within 10,000 yds. The plane continued its approach directly toward the division fire was opened at about 8,000 yards and the plane was shot down and burned. The Brown [USS Brown (DD-546] was sent to search the area where the plane crashed and reported locating a wing tip pontoon and recovering printed matter which identified the plane as friendly. NPM H 4454 reporting that a search plane was investigating a radar contact was received in the boyd at approximately the instant of opening fire. The report of this tragic incident is submitted with my profound regrets.'
(Page 8) The following personnel were aboard 16-P-13 [crew list]
Memorial Services Austin E. Hoskins AMM3c USNR Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Program, August 26, 1945 via Steve Hoskins
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harry R. Flachsbarth

American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lyman E. Benson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Larsen G. Ruth
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Cecil H. Wiggs
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Austin E. Hoskins
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George Plant
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert E. Wise
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James T. Greenfield
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Lee R. Douglas
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Alexander Hilton Jr.

American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Wallace B. Grant
FindAGrave - Lt Harry Rudolph Flachsbarth (photo, courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Ens Lyman Edwin Benson (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Ens Larsen G Ruth (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - ARM3C Cecil H Wiggs (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Cecil Hertford Wiggs (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - AMM3 Austin E Hoskins (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - AMM3 George Plant (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Robert Eugene Wise (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - ARm3 James T Greenfield (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - S1 Lee R Douglas (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - AMM3 Alexander Hilton, Jr (courts of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - AOM3 Wallace Blackwell Grant (courts of the missing photo)
Thanks to Steve Hoskins for additional information.

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Last Updated
May 30, 2018

 

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