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Historic Chaplain’s kit fresh out of the woodwork. KIA 1943 while conducting services in the PTO


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Great, unique item Troy. Its even better there is a photo of him with showing the contents of the case.

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This crowd has gone deadly silent, a Cinderella story outta nowhere. Former greenskeeper and now about to become the masters champion....Carl Spackler

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A sobering story to go along with a very unique and special item, he may be gone, but he is clearly not forgotten. I'm glad to see that you rescued his kit from the uncertain fate of Goodwill.

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INTERESTED IN WWII ITEMS RELATED TO THE

CORPS OF ENGINEERS

 

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He graduated from the chaplain school in 1942.

His service number is O-340867

 

The kit currently is missing the cross, the box the cross stands on and two candlesticks.

The chalice is not the standard for that type of kit. Still, the chalice does look WWII era.

Very nice find.

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Very nice. There is a Chaplain Museum at Fort Jackson. Have you contacted them to try to find out any more information?

 

...Kat

 

Kat,

 

No, but that is a good idea. Thanks

Troy

USMC 2/2 Fox Co 0311 & 1st Recon Bn Delta Co. 0321. 1986 - 1995 (Desert Storm 90/91)

US Army Long Range Surveillance Co F 425th INF ABN LRS Team 1-6 2003 - 2005 (Iraqi Freedom 03/04)

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It is amazing how these family items just end up in a goodwill store. Amazing find and sad story

 

Yes, but it seems to happen more than people think.

 

I know Chaplain Munro was from Berkley Ca. But he Enlisted at Fort Lewis, Washington, so I'm thinking he must have some family connection in the State of Washington and the Kit made its way there over time and eventually ended up being donated to goodwill? Not sure if his original church is still around, but I'm surprised it didn't get donated there for display, (or maybe that history has been lost with the extended family over time.)

 

Troy

USMC 2/2 Fox Co 0311 & 1st Recon Bn Delta Co. 0321. 1986 - 1995 (Desert Storm 90/91)

US Army Long Range Surveillance Co F 425th INF ABN LRS Team 1-6 2003 - 2005 (Iraqi Freedom 03/04)

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Thanks for all the Great comments.

 

One thing I would like to find out (If possible) is: Who were the AAF fighters in the dog fight above that day over New Guinea? The story given from the General in the news article posted above describes it as a sizable air battle against Japanese Bombers and fighters?

 

Troy

USMC 2/2 Fox Co 0311 & 1st Recon Bn Delta Co. 0321. 1986 - 1995 (Desert Storm 90/91)

US Army Long Range Surveillance Co F 425th INF ABN LRS Team 1-6 2003 - 2005 (Iraqi Freedom 03/04)

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He graduated from the chaplain school in 1942.

His service number is O-340867

 

The kit currently is missing the cross, the box the cross stands on and two candlesticks.

The chalice is not the standard for that type of kit. Still, the chalice does look WWII era.

Very nice find.

 

Chap,

 

Thank you for the information. This is obviously your area of expertise and I appreciate any help. I was very excited this much research was available so far and I'm hoping to have success getting his records.

 

Yes, I did comment with the pictures posted above about the 2 candlesticks, Cross and Cross stand missing from the kit. (you can see there empty slots inside the case. You can also see in the first picture of post #15 where the outline of a box (Cross stand) is showing in the velvet, but missing from the kit. My best guess and maybe you could give me your opinion is that the cross, cross stand and candle sticks were out of the case being used for his Sunday services when he was killed and either never located or put back in the case when his items were sent home?

 

The Chalice Pictured in post #19, (Thanks for giving me the correct terminology) I didn't think was original to this set because it doesn't have a custom slot made for it, but was in place of one of the candle stick slots that's missing. Can you tell me any more about the chalice or that style of cross? Here is a couple of additional pictures.

 

Thanks again

Troy

 

post-33000-0-15565100-1437573333.jpg post-33000-0-85685600-1437573339.jpg

 

post-33000-0-01963700-1437573344.jpg post-33000-0-53291300-1437573351.jpg

 

post-33000-0-51000900-1437573355.jpg

USMC 2/2 Fox Co 0311 & 1st Recon Bn Delta Co. 0321. 1986 - 1995 (Desert Storm 90/91)

US Army Long Range Surveillance Co F 425th INF ABN LRS Team 1-6 2003 - 2005 (Iraqi Freedom 03/04)

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Excellent research and documentation. In the 30's, his home was in a very nice neighborhood. I lived one street over when I went to school there.

 

Interesting. It can be a small world sometimes.

Thanks

USMC 2/2 Fox Co 0311 & 1st Recon Bn Delta Co. 0321. 1986 - 1995 (Desert Storm 90/91)

US Army Long Range Surveillance Co F 425th INF ABN LRS Team 1-6 2003 - 2005 (Iraqi Freedom 03/04)

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My best guess and maybe you could give me your opinion is that the cross, cross stand and candle sticks were out of the case being used for his Sunday services when he was killed and either never located or put back in the case when his items were sent home?

 

The Chalice Pictured in post #19, (Thanks for giving me the correct terminology) I didn't think was original to this set because it doesn't have a custom slot made for it, but was in place of one of the candle stick slots that's missing. Can you tell me any more about the chalice or that style of cross?

Troy,

He died on August 15th which is a third Sunday. Communion which would require the communion tray and chalice would have been used the first Sunday in the Presbyterian tradition (some Presbyterians would be less, some would be more).

 

Still, it is unusual that the cross, candlesticks and box were so far separated from the case when the bombing took place.

It could be that while the service took place the bombings started to happen and they left the area as is and then went for cover and that is where he died. Therefore the location of the service was not a impact area. The picture of the chaplain with his kit could have been a early picture. As time went on, he could have customized the kit. Also, I have found many kits without the cross and candlesticks. Perhaps these were taken out of the kit and setup as a display, remembrance in the family home and the kit itself left in the basement.

 

The fact that only two of the communion glasses are broken and the outside of the kit looks "clean" tells me that the kit was well taken care of and did not go through much stress. Still, if you get a detector for explosive residue and conduct a swipe of the kit, that would be interesting.

 

Regarding the chalice. It certainly is WWII period. It looks like part of a smaller civilian style kit that contained a chalice and paten.

 

All the above my humble opinion,

Bob

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Troy,

He died on August 15th which is a third Sunday. Communion which would require the communion tray and chalice would have been used the first Sunday in the Presbyterian tradition (some Presbyterians would be less, some would be more).

 

Still, it is unusual that the cross, candlesticks and box were so far separated from the case when the bombing took place.

It could be that while the service took place the bombings started to happen and they left the area as is and then went for cover and that is where he died. Therefore the location of the service was not a impact area. The picture of the chaplain with his kit could have been a early picture. As time went on, he could have customized the kit. Also, I have found many kits without the cross and candlesticks. Perhaps these were taken out of the kit and setup as a display, remembrance in the family home and the kit itself left in the basement.

 

The fact that only two of the communion glasses are broken and the outside of the kit looks "clean" tells me that the kit was well taken care of and did not go through much stress. Still, if you get a detector for explosive residue and conduct a swipe of the kit, that would be interesting.

 

Regarding the chalice. It certainly is WWII period. It looks like part of a smaller civilian style kit that contained a chalice and paten.

 

All the above my humble opinion,

Bob

 

Bob,

 

Thank you for the information provided. Yes, the kit is in very nice condition and doesn't appear to have any damage to it other than wear from use and age. The two broken glasses I assume were just from rough handling (I did find some of the broken glass pieces inside the communion tray). I would agree the kit must have been a safe distance away or protected in some way (maybe under something or stowed away) from the bombing raid explosion(s) that Killed Chaplain Munro. Of the 4 different news reports I found about the incident, they all differ slightly, some saying he died while providing services and others saying he died right after his services? Or as you suggested maybe when the raid started above in the sky, they all ran for cover and he was killed then. To me, that scenario makes the most sense, that everyone would be running for cover once the attack was known. Sadly, the details of exactly when (before, during or after services) and where (in relation to the kit) he died may be a mystery forever lost to time now. As far as the missing pieces, you bring up an excellent point, that they could've been removed by a family member for a display and separated from the kit forever. Candle sticks would be plenty useful still and may have ended up on the family dinner table and the cross on the Mantle for display. Sounds like you have found that common practice in many kits before?

 

Do you think the chalice may have been from his church where he was a Pastor prior to the war and he added it to his issued kit and took it with him to the war? (same as the marked linen?)

 

Thanks again

Troy

USMC 2/2 Fox Co 0311 & 1st Recon Bn Delta Co. 0321. 1986 - 1995 (Desert Storm 90/91)

US Army Long Range Surveillance Co F 425th INF ABN LRS Team 1-6 2003 - 2005 (Iraqi Freedom 03/04)

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Sounds like you have found that common practice in many kits before?

 

Do you think the chalice may have been from his church where he was a Pastor prior to the war and he added it to his issued kit and took it with him to the war? (same as the marked linen?)

 

 

 

Troy,

Yes, it is hard to find a complete kit. Many kits are missing one or both of the cruets (bottles). You also have the key and pourer. Two items that get lost or broken.

Good question about the chalice. These type of kits were supplied by the denomination. I have a kit from another Presbyterian chaplain and the kit has the chalice. Perhaps that type of kit was not available so the church provided the chalice. The "what if" of history.

But perhaps if you could get to the unit history. That might have more details.

Bob

 

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Thanks for all the Great comments.

 

One thing I would like to find out (If possible) is: Who were the AAF fighters in the dog fight above that day over New Guinea? The story given from the General in the news article posted above describes it as a sizable air battle against Japanese Bombers and fighters?

 

Troy

The 8th FG with the 35th, 36th, and 80th FS flew P-39s form New Guinea in 1943....Would like to do more research to support the claims of the newspaper article

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Troy,

Yes, it is hard to find a complete kit. Many kits are missing one or both of the cruets (bottles). You also have the key and pourer. Two items that get lost or broken.

Good question about the chalice. These type of kits were supplied by the denomination. I have a kit from another Presbyterian chaplain and the kit has the chalice. Perhaps that type of kit was not available so the church provided the chalice. The "what if" of history.

But perhaps if you could get to the unit history. That might have more details.

Bob

 

 

Bob,

 

A unit history might be difficult to find (If one een exist). I haven't been able to find a lot on his type of unit. This is what I can tell you so far; His unit was actually the 187th Airborne Engineer Aviation Battalion (Not the 87th as mentioned in some of the articles) I think it was just a misprint or mis-communication by reporters. They were a light Airborne engineer unit who were used to build quick landing strips or Airdomes? in the Island hopping campaign of the PTO. They only used light equipment and were sometimes brought in with small bulldozers on gliders. In New Guinea, they were tasked with building a fake airfield to throw off the Japanese attacks, While all along building the actual one under the canopy of jungle, ending with the last phase of removing the the canopy above.

 

Thanks again

Troy

USMC 2/2 Fox Co 0311 & 1st Recon Bn Delta Co. 0321. 1986 - 1995 (Desert Storm 90/91)

US Army Long Range Surveillance Co F 425th INF ABN LRS Team 1-6 2003 - 2005 (Iraqi Freedom 03/04)

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The 8th FG with the 35th, 36th, and 80th FS flew P-39s form New Guinea in 1943....Would like to do more research to support the claims of the newspaper article

 

That would be great if you could figure it out. I'm not sure if the U.S. Fighter planes involved in the air battle, were from New Guinea or from another supporting area (or ship) trying to protect the construction of the airfields being built at the time of Chaplain Munro's death?

 

Thanks for looking into it.

 

Troy

USMC 2/2 Fox Co 0311 & 1st Recon Bn Delta Co. 0321. 1986 - 1995 (Desert Storm 90/91)

US Army Long Range Surveillance Co F 425th INF ABN LRS Team 1-6 2003 - 2005 (Iraqi Freedom 03/04)

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Troy and I discussed this one via email for a few days before he won it. This one has so much provenance and history as well as sadness and sorrow that it is a museum piece all on it's own. I can't add much more to what we've already discussed and what you've already found along with what Bob provided except: Awesome!

"There is no such thing as an expert, only students with different levels of education."
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Thanks for all the Great comments.

 

One thing I would like to find out (If possible) is: Who were the AAF fighters in the dog fight above that day over New Guinea? The story given from the General in the news article posted above describes it as a sizable air battle against Japanese Bombers and fighters?

 

Troy

 

 

I found out that the 871st Airborne Engineer BN was at two airfields on New Guinee, Tsili Tsili Airfield and Marilinan Airfield. On Auguest 15th & 16th the Japanese attacked Tsili Tsili Airfield.

 

This website has the units, first hand accounts of the action. No mention of CH Munro.

https://www.pacificwrecks.com/airfields/png/tsili-tsli/missions-tsili-tsili.html

 

If you search PacificWrecks you will read about Walter Seale who was with the 871st. He mentions Chaplain Munro getting killed.

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I found out that the 871st Airborne Engineer BN was at two airfields on New Guinee, Tsili Tsili Airfield and Marilinan Airfield. On Auguest 15th & 16th the Japanese attacked Tsili Tsili Airfield.

 

This website has the units, first hand accounts of the action. No mention of CH Munro.

https://www.pacificwrecks.com/airfields/png/tsili-tsli/missions-tsili-tsili.html

 

If you search PacificWrecks you will read about Walter Seale who was with the 871st. He mentions Chaplain Munro getting killed.

 

 

Great detailed information from the Air side of this story.

 

The link wasn't working for me, so below is a cut and paste of the reports of Aug. 15th.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Location

Located at Tsili Tsili (pronounced Silly-Silly) roughly forty miles from Lae. Sometimes spelled Tsile-Tsile it was actually 5th Air Force General Kenney who wished that the field be renamed, as he thought the name demeaning, and of propaganda value if captured by the Japanese. Japanese called the area "Fabua".

Construction

The area was occupied in the middle of June 1943, as a forward airfield for operations against Lae. The field was hastily constructed by the 871st Airborne Engineers. All supplies, food, fuel and equipment had to be flown into the base via C-47's from Port Moresby.

Another runway, Marilinan Airfield was constructed to the south-east as an emergency strip and to confuse any Japanese aerial opposition.

World War II Pacific Theatre History

On July 26, 1943 the first fighters were based at Tsili-Tsili Airfield. A Japanese reconnaissance aircraft discovered the airfield on August 11, 1943.

Allied Units Based at Tsili Tsili

USAAF

2nd Air Task Force (formed at Tsili Tsili for Lae operations) August 5, 1943

54th TCW, 65th TCS (C-47s) Port Moresby Sept 18 - Oct 31, 1943 Nadzab

35th FG HQ Port Moresby August 15, 1943 - ?

35th FG 40th FS (P-39) 12 Mile Aug 14, 1943 - Oct 1943 Nadzab

35th FG, 41st FS (P-39) 7-Mile Aug 14, 1943 - Oct 22, 1943 Nadzab

49th FG, 8th FS (P-40) Dobodura August 30 - Oct 29 1943 Gusap

433rd TCG (C-47s) ? - June 2, 1944 Nadzab

RAAF

24 Squadron (Vengeance) Nov 43 - ?

4 Squadron (Boomerang) September 1943 - January 1944 Gusap

Walter Seale 871st Airborne Engineer Battalion adds:

"A lot of cripples landed at Tsilli-Tsilli, and later Gusap. They were either low on fuel or shot-up and couldn't be sure of getting home safely. We also mowed a fake runway nearby to confuse the Japanese to make them think the base was bigger than it actually was."

Japanese missions against Tsili Tsili

August 15 - September 13, 1943

 

 

 

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August 15, 1943

At 9:10AM, 12 x Ki-48 Lilys of the 208 Sentai took off from Alexishafen Airfield led by 1/Lt Imai, escorted by 22 Ki-43 Oscars of the 59th Sentai and 12 Ki-43 Oscars of the 24th Sentai. The formation attacks Tsili Tsili Airfield for the first time. Intercepting them near the airfield was the 40th FS and 41st FS (earned a presidental unit citation for this action) flying P-39 Airacobra occured over the Tsili-Tsili and Wau areas. None of the bombers were able to hit the airstrip, the closest being one bomber that crash landed at the edge of the strip. American pilots claim a total of 14 airplanes downed for the loss of 4 P-39s: P-39N piloted by Hilbert (survived) P-39N piloted by Bomar (survived), P-39N piloted by Bomar (survived) and P-39N piloted by Mikiska (survived) P-39N piloted by Topolcany(KIA). In addition, two Dakotas are lost while attempting to land: C-47 "Liliane" 41-18682 and C-47 41-18668.

American claims included 9 of 11 claims for Lilys. (Actually only 7 Ki-48s were in the raid). They also claimed 2 of the 3 OSCARS shot down.

 

Japanese loose 6 bombers, 3 fighters. Among the Ki-48 Lily losses were 1210, 1235, 1242, 1249 and 1250 (wrecks inspected at Tsili Tsili, Pesen, and Babauf).

The 40th FS pilots were credited with:

Lt. Dick Schmalz (1)

Lt. Robert Yaeger flying P-39N 42-19012 Aircraft Number 147 (1 Lily & 1 Oscar).

The 41st FS pilots were credited with:

Robert Alder (2 Lilys, have gun camera film)

Frank 'Duby' Dubisher P-39N 42-18802 (3 Lilys)

Carey Wooley (1 Oscar)

Richard Dunn adds:

"Souces are confused on Lilys versus Sallys. On 15 Aug there really is no dispute. Captured docs clearly establish them as Type 99 Light Bombers. In addition Impact magazine (Dec 43) has gun camera photos of several Lilys in the action. I also have the crash reports and s/ns from most of the losses. Escort of 22 from 59th and 12 from 24th.

41st Squadron Diary

On 15 August 1943, Beaver Red, White, Blue, and Yellow flights took off at 0756/K as close escort and cover for 12 transports to Marilinan and return. Out 12 P-39's arrived over the target area at 0900/K and at 0910/K, 9 medium bombers (Sally) were sighted at 10,000 feet about one mile northwest of target area, escorted by 15-20 Oscars, type 3, and twin engine fighters. Fighters were above and behind the bombers at about 15,000 feet, and some of them higher. Our flights engaged the bombers as they circled to make run on target. They were in vics of 3 and took no evasive action. Nine bombers and two fighters were definitely destroyed. Three of our aircraft failed to return and another crash-landed at Tsili Tsili. The three missing pilots are: Capt George A. Hilbert Jr., 2nd Lt Frank J. Topolcany, and 2nd Lt John E. Bomar. 2nd Lt Richard L. Mikiska crash-landed at Tsili Tsili; no injury sustained. Capt George A. Hilbert, Jr., and 2nd Lt. John E. Bomar bailed out from planes and returned to Tsili Tsili base uninjured. 2nd Lt. Frank J. Topolcany was found dead in his crashed plane.

Edward Rogers adds:

"I found the entry in the 41st Squadron diary for 15 August 1943. 2nd Lt. Frank J. Topolcany [not Fred A. Topolocany] was KIA. Bomar and Hilbert both bailed out and RTD while Mikiska force landed back at TsiliTsili. Twelve Airacobras of 41st and 40th Squadrons, 35th Fighter Group

Pilot Sqdn Claims

2nd Lt. Robert T. Alder 41st = 2

Captain John D. Bailey 41st = 2

2nd Lt. John E. Bomar 41st 0, bailed out RTD

Capt. Francis E. Dubisher 41st 3

Capt. George A. Hilbert Jr. 41st 0 bailed out RTD

2nd Lt. Richard L. Mikiska 41st 0 force landed at TsiliTsili

1st Lt. Harold L. Nus 41st 1

Capt. Tony Prince Jr. 41st 1

1st L.t Carey J. Wooley Jr. 41st 2

2nd Lt. Frank J. Topolcany 41st 0 KIA

1st Lt. Richard A. Schamlz 40th 1

1st Lt. Robert R. Yaeger Jr. 40th 2

2nd Lt. Frank J. Topolcany, O-667875: The Squadron was engaging an enemy formation over the Marilianan area. Lt. Topolcany was firing in an enemy bomber from the rear. The bomber caught fire and crashed. Lt. Topolcany evidently had been seriously wounded, for he followed the bomber into the ground, crashing about 200 ft. [from it?] Action took place on 15 August, 1943.

Note: Despite this description there are no claims for Topolcany under the "Aerial Victory Credits".

2nd Lt. John E. Bomar, 0-386459: The Squadron was engaging an enemy formation over the Marilianan area. As a result of enemy action, Lt. Bomar was force[d] to abandon his airplane. He was seen parachuting safely to the ground. The action took place 15 August 1943. Lt. Bomar returned to duty 22 August 1944 [1943?]

41st Squadron casualty file: 24 July 1942 - 24 March 1944

Dan Dannacher adds:

"Then came the move to Tsili-Tsili, a higly-secret, landlocked strip 200 miles north of Port Moresby. The first escort of C-47s began on 14 August. On the 15th, Lts. Dick Schamlz and Bob Yaeger tacked onto a 41st flight which got to the Tsili-Tsili area just as the first Japanese raid came in. Lt. Schmalz got one victory and Lt. Yaeger got two. The 40th moved to Tsili-Tsili on 25 Aug 1943 for some of the most rugged and severe flying and living conditions. Fuel, food and munitions supply could only come in by C-47. Mud and heat prevailed in the extremes, and cloud build-up over the surrounding mountains made every flight hazardous."

Craven & Cate's account has four Airacobras being lost. It states that the second flight of C-47's returned to PM.

"By camouflage and clever flying of the troop carriers, the existence of the field at Tsili Tsili was hidden from the enemy for a time. The first attack on 15 August caught the troop carriers as they were flying in the ground echelons of the first fighter squadrons to be based at Tsili Tsili. One flight of the C-47's had just landed when twelve Sallys, escorted by an equal number of fighters and flying low enough to have avoided the Allied radar, roared in though mountain passes. Japanese shells riddled one airborne C-47 of the second flight and caused it to crash, killing all occupants; another transport vanished into the surrounding mountains and was never found. The remainder of the second flight turned back to Port Moresby, making their getaway by some skillful flying at treetop levels. Fortunately, the escorting P-39's engaged the attention of the Japanese fighters. When the fight was over, four P-39's had been lost, but three of the four pilots saved themselves and claims showed eleven Sallys and two or three of the fighter escort shot down.59 Damage on the ground had been slight.

The Japanese followed through with another raid on the 16th, but P-47's and P-38's, which had been sent up that day on escort, knocked down approximately fifteen of the strafing fighters. Thereafter, enemy planes kept away. In fact, it became evident that the Japanese had [p. 178] decided to conserve their strength. Except for the two attacks on Tsili Tsili, hostile raids during August were largely restricted to a few bombs dropped on Kiriwina and Woodlark Islands.60"

footnote 59. History, 35th Ftr. Gp.; CM-IN-11980 (8-16-43), Brisbane to WAR, C4827, 16 Aug. 1943; Form 34, 15-21 Aug. 1943, 40th and 41st Ftr. Sqs.

footnote 60. History, 475th Ftr. Gp.; Form 34, 12-21 Aug. 1943, 340th, 341st, and 431st Ftr. Sqs.; cable opns. rpts. for August; History, 67th Ftr. Sq. p. 177-78

Chapter VI: Huon Gulf and Peninsula - by Richard L. Watson, Duke University

"The Army Air Forces in World War II"

"Vol. IV The Pacific: Guadalcanal to Saipan August 1942 to July 1944"

Wesley F. Craven and James L. Cate, eds.

Thanks to Richard Dunn and Edward Rogers for additional information.

Japanese missions against Tsili Tsili

August 15 - September 13, 1943

USMC 2/2 Fox Co 0311 & 1st Recon Bn Delta Co. 0321. 1986 - 1995 (Desert Storm 90/91)

US Army Long Range Surveillance Co F 425th INF ABN LRS Team 1-6 2003 - 2005 (Iraqi Freedom 03/04)

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