|Pilot Captain William F. Spang (KIA, BR) NJ
Crashed December 1, 1942
Built by Douglas at El Segundo, California. Constructors Number 1399. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as SBD-3 Dauntless bureau number 06662.
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) to 1st Marine Air Wing (1MAW), Marine Air Group 11 (MAG-11) to Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 132 (VMSB-132) "Crying Red Asses". This aircraft had no known nickname or nose art.
On December 1, 1942 one of nine SBDs led by Major Sailer that took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by Captain William S. Spang armed with a single 1,000 pound bomb on a dive bombing mission against one light cruiser and two destroyers off Guadalcanal. Returning at night, Spang was killed in the landing but the gunner survived.
The engine is located nearby.
Since the 1990s, the wreckage of this SBD was recovered and transported to Betikama School (Betikama Adventist College). Until the early 1992s, the bureau number stencil "Navy
was visible on the tail.
Spang was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Afterwards, Spang was buried at the American Cemetery Guadalcanal (Guadalcanal Cemetery). Initially, his grave was a cross with "Capt. Spang" with a propeller blade with bullet holes and and spinner. Postwar, his remains were transported to the United States and permanently buried at
Cold Spring Presbyterian Cemetery in Cape May, NJ.
"Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 132 War Diary October 13, 1942 - April 30, 1943" - Page 13
(Page 13) On December first ... Major Sailer led an attack group on one light cruiser and two destroyers, but was unable to make contact. Other participants in the attack group were: Capt. Spang, Lieutenants Simpson, McEniry, Skinner, Kollmoan, Kellogg, Herrick and StfSgt. Wallof. Due to lack of experience in flying SBD's at night, and no flying with one thousand (1000) pound bombs, Capt. Spang was killed in this crash, but his gunner escaped without injury."
Navy Serial Number Search Results - SBD-3 Dauntless 06662
FindAGrave - William F Spang (grave photos)
Eyewitness account via Peter Flahavin:
"We rushed toward the
sound. He landed on the path between the tent area and the galley. About
100 yards separates the two. He had hit a big tree at almost ground level
and had spun around 180 The engine was laying to one side with just
a flicker of fire. Only the
fuselage remained in one piece. The pilot was a Marine Captain [Captain Bill Spang] alive, incoherent
and in bad shape. The next day airfield ordinance arrived to salvage the 1,000 lb bomb
that had jarred loose but didn't explode. I hadn't noticed the aerial
gunner but had heard he was O.K."
Thanks to Peter Flahavin for eyewitness account and historical details.
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June 29, 2019