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  TBF-1 Avenger Bureau Number 25316 Plane Number 111
1st MAW

Pilot  1st Lt. Alonzo N. Hathway, Jr., O-015355 (MIA / KIA) Webster City, IA
Gunner  Cpl John Joseph Edwards, 407068 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY

Radio  Pfc Willie C. Thompson, 812851 (MIA / KIA) Cub Run, KY

MIA  February 14, 1944

Aircraft History
Built by under license by Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors Corporation as a model G-40. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as TBF-1C Avenger Bureau Number 25316. Shipped overseas to the South Pacific.

Wartime History
Delivered to the United States Marine Corps (USMC). Assigned to 1st Marine Air Wing (1st MAW), Marine Air Group 11 (MAG-11) to squadron VMTB-233 "Bulldogs/Rainbow". Squadron number (plane number) 111. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On February 14, 1944 took off from Piva Uncle Airfield on Bougainville at 2:30am at one hour intervals as one of three groups of Avengers on a mission to drop aerial mines into the northern half of Simpson Harbor near Rabaul. Each Avenger was armed with one Mark 12-1 aerial parachute mine. This Avenger was part of "Group B".

This aircraft took off as one of eight Avengers in "Group B", the second to take off and the second over the target. The formation also included "Group A" with nine Avengers plus "Group B" with eight Avengers (one aborted the mission) plus "Group C" with eleven Avengers (two aborted the mission).

Over the target, each aircraft attacked from less than 600' altitude at a slow speed of less than 180 knots. During the attack, the Avengers were targeted by searchlights and intense anti-aircraft fire. One plane was lost from Group A (attacking east to west), two planes were lost from Group B (attacking west to east) and three were lost from Group C (attacking east to west).

When this Avenger failed to return from the mission, the crew were officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). A total of six Avengers were lost including this aircraft, TBF 47506 (POW/MIA), TBF 06311 (MIA), TBF 24264 (MIA), TBF 24340 (MIA), TBF 25327 (MIA).

The entire crew was officially declared dead on February 15, 1945. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Wil Groves (nephew of Alonzo N. Hathway)
"My uncle, Alonzo Hathway was pilot on one of the downed TBFs in Simpson Harbor."

Winston D. Wilson (nephew of Thompson)

Mason City Globe Gazette May 7, 1943

Osage - Wednesday Mr and Mrs Alonzo Hathway arrive at Mrs Hathway's grandmother's Mrs M H McGhan to spend a short visit. Mrs Hathway, the former Marilyn Jean Gilchrist of Osage was married in March. For three years prior to her marriage she had been employed at the Arthur Murray dancing academy at Washington DC and plans to return to former work later. Bombardier Alonzo Hathway had been in training in Florida, then at Great Lakes and is now enroute to San Diego, awaiting further orders.

Fold3 NARA USMC War Diary VMTB-233 1 February 1944 Through 29 February 1944 pages 53, 80-82
(Page 53) " 14 February 1944
1. Orders Received.
Mining operations in north half of Simpson Harbor. Diversion support will be provided by PV-1 aircraft on Vunakanau Airfield. Mines will be laid from the east to west.
2. Operations.
Three groups of planes each took off from Piva U strip at one hour intervals starting at 0030 carrying one Mk. 12-1 mine per plane. Group A and C made attack from East to West, retiring down St. Georges Channel. Group B made attack from West to East and retired across Talili Bay and neck of Crater Peninsula. All mines had to be dropped from less than 600' at a speed of less than 180 knots. One plane failed to catch up and returned to Piva U strip.
3. Special Action Report.
The planes were picked up by searchlights followed by intense AA fire throughout the attack. One plane was lost from the 1st. division, two from the second division and three from the last division ["Group C"]. As a result 16 miles were accounted for as dropped, one hung, six were unaccounted for and two were not dropped.
Lt. Bartholf and Cornelius and crews were believed shot down in flames. Lts. Boyden, Sherman, Fowler and Hathway failed to return."
(Page 80-81) COMAIRSOLS Strike Command TBF Intelligence Struck 14, February, 1944
(Page 82) "Plane No. 111, Pilot Hathway, Passengers Thompson, Edward [sic] (did not return)"
USMC Casualty Card - Alonzo N. Hathway, Jr.
USMC Casualty Card - John Joseph Edwards
USMC Casualty Card - Willie C. Thompson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Alonzo N. Hathway
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John Joseph Edwards
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Willie C. Thompson
FindAGrave - Capt Alonzo N Hathway, Jr (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - John Edwards (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Corp John Joseph Edwards (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - PFC Willie C Thompson (tablets of the missing)
Target Rabaul pages 311-312

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


Tech Info

3 Missing

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