Lurcott and Hadfield Accounted For b

2 Pilots Missing Since World War II Are Finally Accounted For

The DPAA has released that U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Howard T. Lurcott and 2nd Lt. Lynn W. Hadfield, both missing since World War II, have finally been accounted for. B-24J Pilot Lurcott went missing at Tarawa Lagoon and A-26 pilot Hadfield went missing in Germany.

1st Lt. Howard T. Lurcott was accounted for on January 21, 2019 after being missing since January 1944 at Tarawa Lagoon.

On January 21, 1944, 1st Lt. Howard T. Lurcott was a member of the 38th Bombardment Squadron, 30th Bombardment Group, stationed at Hawkins Field, Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, when the B-24J bomber aircraft he was piloting crashed into Tarawa lagoon shortly after takeoff. Lurcott and the nine other servicemen aboard the aircraft were killed.

The entire crew of B-24D "Galloping Gus", this entire crew later went missing with B-24J 42-72999 on January 21, 1944. (Credits: PacificWrecks)
The entire crew of B-24D “Galloping Gus”, this entire crew later went missing with B-24J 42-72999 on January 21, 1944. (Credits: PacificWrecks)

PacificWrecks lists the circumstances around the crash of the B-24J:

On January 21, 1944 took off from Tarawa Airfield (Hawkins Field) on Tarawa (Betio) at 12:21am on a bombing mission against Roi Island at Kwajalein Atoll. After taking off to the east, the engines did not sound as though they were developing power. After reaching an altitude of roughly 250′ to 300′, the bomber started to settle slowly. At 12:38am crashed into the seas roughly 3 miles to the east outside Tarawa Lagoon.

The entire crew was presumed to be killed in the crash and were all listed as Missing In Action (MIA). The crash was believed to have been caused by water in the gas.

Lurcott’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl and will now receive a rosette next to his name indicating he was found.

Just a month earlier, another pilot was accounted for by the DPAA. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Lynn W. Hadfield, who was 26 when he went missing with his A-26B.

2nd Lt. Lynn W. Hadfield
2nd Lt. Lynn W. Hadfield

On March 21, 1945, Hadfield was a member of the 642nd Bombardment Squadron, 409th Bombardment Group, 9th Bombardment Division, 9th Air Force, piloting an A-26B, when his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and went missing during a combat mission from Couvron, France to Dülmen, Germany. Hadfield, and his two crewmen, Sgt. Vernon Hamilton and Sgt. John Kalausich, had been participating in the interdiction campaign to obstruct German troop movements in preparation for the Allied crossing of the Rhine River on March 23, 1945.

In June 2016, his crash site was located and his remains were finally identified in 2018. As well as the remains of Sgt. Hamilton and Kalausich.

At this moment there are still more than 72,500 service members still unaccounted for from World War II.

2 thoughts on “2 Pilots Missing Since World War II Are Finally Accounted For”

  1. Did they recover All of the 11 Soldiers that were buried on Tarawa ?
    Amazing after 75 yrs. to be able to return soldiers to their home to be buried.
    Thanks to all who worked on the recovery process, it couldn’t have been done without you.

    Tom Denall Bend, Ore.

  2. “His Lord said to him, Well done, you good and faithful servant…” Matthew 25:21.
    1st LT Howard Thomas Lurcott, U.S. Army Air Corps, was the pilot on a B-24 Liberator bomber, nicknamed “Gallopin’ Gus”, which crashed on take off from Tarawa on 21 January 1944. While at the Department of Defense (DoD) in 2011/2012, Chief Rick Stone prepared reports which noted that 1st LT Lurcott was one of eleven known recovered casualties from two crashes on that date. Chief Stone’s reports noted that four were buried as “Unknowns” in the Punchbowl and seven remained buried in an undiscovered cemetery on Tarawa. The Chief Rick Stone and Family Charitable Foundation researchers, using advanced investigative techniques and technologies not available at DoD or to the government contractors paid to recover remains, continued to research 1st LT Lurcott’s case. In 2016, the U.S. Congress requested a report from the Foundation on the case of the eleven missing fliers. The Congressional Report identified the location of the aircrew casualties who were still buried on Tarawa. 1st LT Lurcott was recovered from a grave on Tarawa at the site indicated by Foundation research and his identification was officially announced on 31 January 2019. Welcome home Airman! We share the joy of your family in your return! God Bless you and thanks to ALL who never forgot you and your service to our country!

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