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  R4D-5 Dakota Bureau Number 39090  
USN

Pilot  Lt(jg) John Daniel Gross, O-076500 (MIA, KIA, BR) Lock Haven, PA
Co-Pilot  Ensign Maurice Dale Linder, 306500 (MIA / KIA, BR) Elmwood, NE
Passenger  Machinist Ben Wilmer Murray, 350271 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Passenger  AMM1c George H. Beier, Jr., 4104874 (MIA / KIA, BR) IL
Passenger  ARM2c Alva Lee Cloepfil, 3427279 (MIA / KIA, BR) Springfield, MO
Passenger  AMM1c Frank Harvey Dodge, 3861084 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Passenger  AMM1c Dale Evans Drake, 3824503 (MIA / KIA, BR) MN
Passenger  AMM2c Clyde Clinton Edwards, 3570390 (MIA / KIA, BR) TX
Passenger  ACMM William Hawley Eldridge, 3860203 (MIA / KIA, BR) WA
Passenger  AMM1c Leroy Robert Hamilton, 6114198 (MIA / KIA, BR) Chicago, IL
Passenger  SMN1c Donald Edward Huddleston, 8554076 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Passenger  AMM2c Robert Edgar Heil, 8685700 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Passenger  PHM2c Lee Roy Morris, 3567873 (MIA / KIA, BR) Moscow, TX
Passenger  AMM2c Marlin Ray Myers, 6507878 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Passenger  AMM2c Leo Suire, 6253252 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Passenger  AMM2c Charles Kazemei Zaremba, 6665795 (MIA / KIA, BR)

Crashed  July 23, 1944


Aircraft History
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 13859. Assigned U. S. Army Air Force as C-47A-DLs Dakota serial number 43-30708.

Wartime History
Assigned to the U. S. Navy as R4D-5 Dakota bureau number 39090. Ferried overseas to Australia arriving at Brisbane on November 10, 1943. Assigned to the 7th Fleet (COMAIR7THFL). No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On July 23, 1944 took off from Mareeba Airfield on a flight to Cairns Airfield then took off again on a flight bound for Momote Airfield on Los Negros Island. Aboard were sixteen crew and passengers. When this aircraft failed to return it was declared Missing In Action (MIA).

Search
A search was conducted for five days without success. On August 29, 1944, a board of investigation was ordered to convene at the U. S. Navy Base on Manus.

Wreckage
This aircraft crashed onto Mount Scratchley in the vicinity of Mount Victoria. Everyone aboard was killed on impact.

On September 26, 1970, a flight was made searching for a civilian aircraft that had crashed. While searching, a glint was detected.

On October 1, 1970 a two man patrol from the New Guinea Administration was flown aboard a Bell-47 helicopter to the area and located the wreckage of this aircraft. Skeletal remains of an indeterminate number of personnel were found at the site.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead on February 4, 1946. Six of the crew are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery including: Gross, Beier, Dodge, Drake, Edwards and Eldridge.

After the recovery of remains, the crew were transported to the United States for permanent burial. Five of the crew are buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at section 81, site 276 including Linder, Eldridge, Huddleston and Myers. Two of the crew are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Drake at section 12, site 8542-1. Hamiltion is buried at section 12, site 8541-1. Two are buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery Edwards at section 2B, site 2611. Suire at section W site 1085.

Gross is buried at Saint Johns Lutheran-Brick Church Cemetery in Montgomery, PA.
Beier is buried at Quincy National Cemetery at plot A, 374-A in Quincy, IL.
Cloepfil has a memorial marker in Eastlawn Cemetery in Springfield, MO.
Dodge is buried at Evergreen Memorial Gardens in Vancouver, WA.
Morris has a memorial marker at Forest Hill Cemetery in Livingston, TX.
Zaremba is buried at Saint Michaels Cemetery in Springfield, MA.

Relatives
Martha Holcomb Holley (wife of Gross)
Daniel H. Gross (son of Gross)

Mark Dodge adds:
"One of the passengers aboard this aircraft would be listed as Frank H. Dodge (USN-AMS2). Frank was known as "Harvey" in the family and had been serving since December of 1941. He had worked his way to New Guinea aboard the Liberty Ships Kenmore and Bootes earlier in 1944."

References
Some sources incorrectly state this aircraft crashed in Australia near Cairns
USN, Brief of Daily Operations, United States Fleet Aircraft, Seventh Fleet - July 23, 1944
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List July 1944
NAA "Research for missing personnel SWPA information relating to US aircraft & crews" pages 36-42
NAA: A703 614/1/25 PART 8 12188106
Williamsport Sun-Gazette (Williamsport, Pennsylvania) - Tuesday, January 30, 1945 - page 18
"LOCK HAVEN--Mrs C E Gross of Lock Haven, mother of Lieut (jg) John D Gross and his wife Mrs. J T D Gross, who lives In Birmingham, Ala, have received letters from Lieutenant Gross' commanding officer and comrades in the Southwest Pacific war zones stating that no further news has been received and it is believed that the plane piloted by the young Lieutenant was lost at sea.
Commander Perry R. illegible wrote the family describing Lieutenant Gross' last flight. Lieutenant Gross illegible] visited Robert C. Sassaman of Williamsport, boyhood friend, whose wife was the former Frances Stem, of Lock Haven; Lieutenant Sassaman writes that men at the base from which Lieutenant Gross took off believe they were over New Guinea at the time of their last radio report . . . that a unit was moving from Australia to the Admiralty Islands and the flight on which John was pilot was the first to leave Brisbane and had 17 of the best men aboard who were to begin operations [illegible] their most experienced pilot and the plane was in good condition.
The flight departed from Cairns, cleared directly to the Islands but ?. After port it is believed they were lost at sea. Chaplain D D Williams wrote that a special service of prayer [illegible]."
Martha Holcomb Holley - Obituary 0 Tuscaloosa News - Tuesday, July 29, 2003
"BIRMINGHAM | Martha Holcomb Holley, wife of the late Dr. Howard L. Holley of the University of Alabama School of Medicine, died Saturday, July 26, 2003. Born December 12, 1921 in Savannah, Georgia, she was the daughter of the late Lillian Chambliss and John H. Holcomb, Sr. who moved to Birmingham when she was three months old. In the spring of 1941 Martha married John D. Gross, a U.S. Navy Pilot from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, who was killed during World War II in New Guinea. Their son, Daniel, was born shortly before his father was declared missing in action. In 1944 Martha enrolled at Duke University. There she met young Dr. Holley of Hamburg, Alabama, who was serving in the Coast Guard. They were married in the Holcomb home on Milner Crescent in Birmingham on September 7, 1946. Martha is survived by her sons, Daniel Howard Gross and his wife, Lois, of Anchorage, Alaska, Dr. Warren Holcomb Holley and his wife, Sonya, of Tuscaloosa, Dr. Howard Chambliss Holley and his wife, Robin, also of Tuscaloosa; daughters, Mrs. Nancy Holley Capicik and her husband, Lt. Col. (ret.) Paul Capicik of Montgomery, Mrs. Jane Holley Neal and her husband, Steve, of Tuscaloosa; one brother John H. Holcomb, Jr. of Birmingham, two sisters, Ruth and her husband, Dr. Thomas W. Mears, and Mrs. Nancy Wright; seven grandchildren, Lisa and Steffen Capicik, Holley Dunigan, Allison, William, Benjamin, and Samuel Holley, and Brittni Miles. She is also survived by three great-grandchildren, Meagan and Macie Capicik, Walker Dunigan, and several nieces and nephews."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John D. Gross
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George H. Beier Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank H. Dodge
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Dale E. Drake
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Clyde C. Edwards
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William H. Eldridge
FindAGrave - LTJG John Daniel Gross
FindAGrave - Lieut John Daniel Gross (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Ens Maurice Dale Linder (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Ens Maurice Dale Linder (grave photo)
FindAGrave - George Henry Beier, Jr (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Alva Lee Cloepfil (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Frank Harvey Dodge (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Dale Evans Drake (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Clyde Clinton Edwards (grave photo)
FindAGrave - CPO William Harvey Eldridge (grave photo)
FindAGrave - CPO Leroy Robert Hamilton (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Donald Edward Huddleston (grave photo)
FindAGrave - CPO Lee Roy Morris (grave photo)
FindAGrave - CPO Marlin Ray Myers (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Leo Suire (grave photo)
FindAGrave - CPO Charles Kasamei Zaremba (grave photo)
Oz@War - Crash of a R4D-5 Skytrain between Cairns and Port Moresby on 23 July 1944
Aviation Safety Network - Sunday 23 July 1944 Douglas R4D-5 (DC-3)
Thanks to Mark Dodge, Daniel Leahy and Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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R4D-5

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