World War II Flight Training Museum and
63rd AAF Flying Training Detachment

Douglas, Georgia

Robert L. Crosswait

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Robert L. Crosswait

Theater: Pacific

S/N: O-796783

Highest rank: 1st Lieutenant.

MACR (Missing Air Crew Report): #6576

He was with the 5th Fighter Command, 475th Fighter Group, 431st Fighter Sqdn. On June 30, 1944, he flew a P-38 J-10 (S/N: 42-67793) on a glide bomb mission on Noemfoor Island, Dutch New Guinea, S. Pacific.

On July 4, 1944, Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. reported:

"I was leading Hades squadron on 30 June 1944 to bomb installations on Noemfoor Island. When we approached Tanamerah Bay we let down to 1000 feet because of bad weather. When fully under the overcast I saw that we would not be able to get to Hollandia so we executed a one hundred and eighty degree turn. After this turn Lt. Crosswait was not seen.

Approximately five minutes later I had radio contact with Lt. Crosswait. I had called Hollandia Tower for weather conditions over the strip. Lt. Crosswait called me and said that he could not receive the tower in answer to my request for anyone to relay the tower's message. I could receive no one besides Lt. Crosswait. I then called all my squadron to go to Wakde. We were separated and no one heard me.

The weather to Wakde was good with scattered cumulus. The weather inland was very poor and heavily built up. The weather in Tanamerah Bay region was closed in right to the deck and built up to approximately 30,000 feet. All weather to the south and east was bad."

A statement by Capt. William S. O'Brien:

"As soon as it was ascertained that Lt. Crosswait was missing, we dispatched two P-38's on a search mission. The only crash that was found was one where an airplane had hit the ground in a vertical bank and had exploded. We then sent an L-5 with one of our pilots to try and identify the type of aircraft. He could not identify it. The following day three officers and three enlisted men of this squadron, with the aid of three natives and a Javanese interpreter, started into the jungle from Tanahmerah Bay. The party was to have been spotted by an L-5. After walking for about four hours, visual contact with the L-5 was lost. The searching party had to turn back. (On account of darkness.)

A native is being taken up in the L-5 to be shown the crash and he will be able to go to the scene without the aid of the L-5. The native aid was arranged through the Dutch Liason Officer at Tanahmerah Bay. More information will follow as the results of this search."

On July 8, a statement to the commanding general read:

"Crashed airplane near Tanahmerah Bay, believed to be that of 1st Lt. Robert L. Crosswait, reached by ground party and found to be Japanese. Further search is continuing. Will advise of developments."

As far as this editor knows, Lt. Crosswait and his plane were never found.

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