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  PV-1 Ventura Bureau Number 33214 Tail 15
USN
VB-140

Click For Enlargement
October 1943

Pilot  Lt. Marion D. Trewhitt (rescued) Berkely, CA
Co-Pilot  Ensign Edward A. Conlon (rescued) Miami, FL
Radio  ARM3C Troy P. Wilson, 6166924 (MIA / KIA) Winters, TX
Crew Chief/Tail  AMM2C Carl D. Saunders (rescued) Logansport, IN
Ordinance/Top Turret  AOM3C Carl Schaffer (rescued) Portland, OR

Ditched  September 17, 1943 at 3:15am

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed at Burbank, CA. Assigned to the US Navy (USN) to squadron VB-140. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On September 16, 1943 took off from the Russell Islands at 22:05 on a night bombing mission against Ballale. Over the target, they dropped six bombs: 2 hitting the woods, one on the beach and three in the water.

Leaving the target area, they became separated and proceeded back to base alone, but failed to find it nor were radio calls apparently transmitted. Although some reefs were spotted and Cactus beam were located, at 3:15 on September 17, they were low on fuel and prepared to ditch.

On impact, the crash causing the bottom of the aircraft to tear away. During the landing, Wilson was seated on the deck near the navigator's table and was never seen after the crash, and was presumed to have been killed instantly in the crash. The other crew all sustained minor injuries in the crash. The Ventura's door raft and jungle kit were all the emergency gear that survived the ditching. The nose sank first, and the tail went vertical and then quickly sank.

Fate of the Crew
The survivors drifted in the raft for 16 days days at sea, sustaining with water and milk tablets and a fish caught. They survived storms, were trailed by sharks, and ate coconuts found in the sea. Although within sight of several islands, currents prevented landfall. On October 2, they spotted a PB4Y (B-24 Liberator) but it failed to observe them. Also two Zero fighters that same day that also failed ot see their raft.

On October 3rd, the 17th day, the raft made landfall on Choiseul Island and found themselves near Kagatarava village with a Catholic mission and spent the night in the abandoned village and a Japanese landing barge nearby, and saw Japanese troops from a distance and fled. The next day they met a native, who agreed to take them to his chief "Levi" and the crew departing on the 5th and finally reaching coastwatcher "Nick", on the 9th, and remained with him, departing on the 12th to the shore again to be rescued.

On October 17, the crew was taken by canoe to Nanano Island, an offshore island, and were rescued by a PBY Catalina piloted by Lt. Thomas H. Benton of VP-23 at 15:00. They were flown by back to their base at Halavo "D Base" at 17:05. The next day, the crew was debriefed and give a week's leave in New Zealand before returning to duty.

Memorials
Wilson was officially declared dead on September 16, 1943 incorectly, he likely died on September 17, 1943. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Relatives
Scott Goings (son-in-law of Saunders):
"In addition to Saunders. Carl Schaffer is still living. The pilot and copilot are deceased."

References
US Navy Losses Microfilm lists this Ventura as Bu No as '33414' and lost on 9/15/43 in error
Diary of Ensign E. A. Conlon - page 1-11
"Saved by the Savages" by Trewhitt
"Japs 'Feed' Lost Airmen" (UP) December 4, 1943
The Call Bulletin "Adrift 16 Days" April 18, 1844
"Machinists Mate Here Knows Real Facts About Life Rafts" 1945
"Lost At Sea - The War Remembered" December 7, 2001
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Troy Paul Wilson date of death as September 16, 1943
Vega Ventura page 49
Thanks to Jim Sawruk for PBY rescue details

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

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