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  TBM-1C Avenger Bureau Number 16923  
USS Intrepid (CV-11)

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Bent Prop 2005

Pilot  Lt(jg) John J. Savage, 157494 USNR (POW, executed September 9, 1945, MIA)
Gunner  AOM2c Ora Sharninghouse, 7232273 USNR (MIA / KIA, BR) OH
Radio  ARM2c Albert "Bud" Rybarczyk, 6224029 USNR (MIA / KIA, BR) St. Joseph, MI
Crashed  September 8, 1944

Aircraft History
Built by General Motors, Eastern Aircraft Division. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as TBM-1C Avenger bureau number 16923.

Wartime History
Assigned to the USS Intrepid (CV-11) to Torpedo Squadron 18 (VT-18). No known nickname, nose art or squadron number.

Mission History
On September 8, 1944 took off from USS Intrepid (CV-11) piloted by Lt. John J. Savage armed with a single 2,000 pound bomb on bombing mission against against Japanese positions on Babelthuap Island in Palau.

Over the target, this Avenger bombed an ammunition dump at Bokerugeru Point. After releasing their bomb, the explosion that resulted tore off the aircraft's tail. Out of control, pilot Savage managed bail out before the aircraft crashed into the sea off Babelthuap Island. The other two crew members did not exit the aircraft and were killed in the crash. When this aircraft failed to return, it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Fates of the Crew
Pilot Savage parachuted successfully and landed in the sea then swam ashore. He was captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW) and immediately executed by beheading. He remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

The other two crew members: Sharninghouse and Rybarczyk went down with the aircraft and were officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Other aircraft in the formation witnessed this Avenger crash and circled the area where it impacted but only saw hydraulic fluid and a deflated life raft floating on the surface.

The outer wing of this Avenger landed in a mangrove swamp in Aimeliik State at the southwest corner of Babelthuap Island. The rest of the aircraft crashed into the sea offshore.

On March 5, 2005, Patrick Scannon / Bent Prop located the right outer wing with the U. S. star marking in the mangrove swamp but was unable to locate the rest of the aircraft. Later, a Palau resident remembered her father telling her about an airplane crashing into the sea and indicated the area to the team where the rest of the aircraft was later located.

On March 14, 2014 Bent Prop and Project Recover including Eric Terrill and Mark Moline used an ROV to locate the wreckage of the Avenger underwater roughly 100' offshore at a depth of 100'. On March 31, 2014 a flag ceremony was held for the three crew and the site was reported to Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC).

Recovery of Remains
After the discovery of the Avenger, the remains of Sharninghouse and Rybarczyk were recovered and identified by Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). On August 16, 2017 the Department of Defense (DoD) announce both were identified.

All three crew members were officially declared dead on September 9, 1945. All three earned the Purple Heart, posthumously and are memorialized at the Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Sharninghouse also has a memorial marker at Weaver Cemetery in Bairdstown, OH.
Rybarczyk also has a memorial marker at Resurrection Cemetery Saint Joseph, MI.

Mary Ann Rybarczyk (sister of Rybarczyk)

Navy Serial Number Search Results - TBM-1C Avenger 16923
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List September 1944 - TBM-1C Avenger 16923
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John J. Savage
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ora H. Sharninghouse Jr.
"The remains of Petty Officer Sharninghouse were accounted for in 2017"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Albert P. Rybarczyk
"The remains of Petty Officer Sharninghouse were accounted for in 2017"
FindAGrave - LtJG John J Savage (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - AOM2 Ora H Sharninghouse, Jr (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Ora H. Sharninghouse, Jr (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - ARM2 Albert P Rybarczyk (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Albert Peter Rybarczyk (memorial marker)
News-Palladium article from Oct. 14, 1944 reported that Rybarczyk was missing in action and noted that he had been hoping to come home on leave after his long absence.
DoD News Release "Navy Reserve Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Ora H. Sharninghouse, killed during World War II, has now been accounted for" August 16, 2017
The Herald Palladium "Out of the depths Remains of WWII MIA coming home to St. Joseph" November 11, 2017
Thanks to Patrick Scannon, Reid Joyce of Bent Prop for additional information

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Last Updated
March 24, 2019


Tech Info

1 Prisoners
2 Missing

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