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  TBM-1C Avenger Bureau Number 16923  
USN
USS Intrepid (CV-11)
VT-18

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

Crashed  September 8, 1945

Aircraft History
Built by General Motors, Eastern Aircraft Division. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as TBM-1C Avenger Bureau Number 16923. Assigned to the USS Intrepid (CV-11), Air Group 18 to squadron VT-18. No known nickname or nose art.

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, after dive bombing an ammunition dump on Bokerugeru Point, the explosion tore off the tail causing it to crash into the sea off Babelthuap Island. During the crash, the gunner and radio operator were both killed. When this aircraft failed to return, it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Search
Other aircraft in the formation witnessed the crash and circled the area but only saw hydraulic fluid and a deflated life raft floating on the surface.

Fates of the Crew
Pilot Savage survived the crash and swam ashore but was captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW) and later executed.

Wreckage
On March 5, 2005, Patrick Scannon / Bent Prop located the wing of a TBM Avenger in a mangrove sawmp but were unable to locate the rest of the aircraft, but continued to search over the next nine year.

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.

Memorials
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.

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

Relatives
Mary Ann Rybarczyk (sister of Rybarczyk)

References
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 / Bent Prop for additional information

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Tech Info
Avenger

POW
POW/MIA
1 Prisoners
2 Missing

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