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Jose L. Holguin
Navigator B-17E "Naughty But Nice" 41-2430 and Prisoner Of War at Rabaul
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Port Moresby, 1943

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Holguin After the War

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Holguin at crash 1982
(Photos via Bruce Hoy)

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Curt Holguin & daughters

Holguin grew up in Los Angeles, California. He served as a bombardier in the 43rd Bomb Group. He was shot down on a night mission to Rabaul, June 26, 1943 while flying as bombardier in B-17E "Naughty But Nice" 41-2430.

Survival Story
Only Holguin was able to bail out, and was thrown clear of stricken aircraft, and parachuted into the jungle. The aircraft, and the rest of the crew crashed into the Bainings Mountains outside Rabaul. Severely wounded, in the jaw and back he survived without food or medical treatment for weeks until discovered by native people. Because of his severe injuries, the villagers later handed him over to the Japanese, as they could no longer care for him without proper medicine and knew he would die.

POW at Rabaul
He became a POW on July 17, 1943 until September 1945. During that period he received no medical attention and lived a brutal existence as a POW. His epic ordeal in a captivity is expressed in a letter he wrote as after the war to testify about his captivity. As the sole survivor of his crew, Holguin made it his personal quest to find his fellow comrades and their crashed airplane.

Post War Life
After the war, he remained in the military, serving in the Air Force into the February 1, 1964. 93rd Bomb Wing in England in 1950-1 and 1952. His crew won the Strategic Air Command 'best crew' at a competition at March AFB, an achievement reported in TIME Magazine, September 1955. After retirement, he then began working for the Los Angeles Unified School District, as a teacher. In the early 1970s got his master, and administrator positions, including assistant principal in school in Los Angles.

Trip To New Guinea
In the early 1980s he traveled at his own expense to Papua New Guinea, to search for the plane his comrades had died aboard. With the help of Brian Bennett and Bruce Hoy, he located the wreckage, and saw that the remains were recovered by US Army CILHI, and attended the memorials in the hometowns of several of the deceased crew members, including: Francis Peattie and Pace Payne. Afterwards, he continued to work in LA City Schools and had many meetings with Japanese veterans, including his former POW guard.

Holguin died on March 22, 1994. He is buried at Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana CA at lawn grave AH.

Legacy Continues
His son, Curt Holguin and his family maintain the friendships of his father with the other members of the crew. His son, wife and two daughters plan to visit Papua New Guinea and the "Naughty But Nice" crash site in August 2006.

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