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

Douglas, Georgia

Joseph A. Garbarino


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Joseph A. Garbarino

Theater: China-Burma-India

S/N: O-795587

Highest rank: 1st Lieutenant.

MACRs (Missing Air Crew Reports): #9928 and 9929

He was with the 10th Air Force, 33rd Fighter Group, 58th Fighter Sqdn. On Nov. 15, 1944, he flew a P-47D-21E (S/N: 42-25383) departing from Moraw, Assam on a mission to Kale-Zigon Road in Male, Burma. He was flight leader. His plane and the plane of Billy T. Davis collided.

According to Irwin D. Westerberg, 2nd Lt., witness:

At 16,000 feet the flight dropped their wing tanks, and then we started a dive to the right toward the town of Male. I was on Lt. Garbarino's right wing. I heard Lt. Johnston tell his wing man, Lt. Davis, to roll over to the right of element number 1. I was still on Lt. Garbarino's right wing and a little above his ship. As I glanced at Lt. Garbarino's ship during the dive at approximately 7,000 feet, I noticed a ship at about 7 o'clock from me with its tail disintegrating. It was the only ship I saw on the left side of me. I didn't see the two ships collide. As soon as I saw the other ship, I pulled out of my dive and continued ahead at about 5,000 feet until I saw Lt. Johnston's ship making a sharp turn to the left. I then heard some one say to rejoin at 4,000 feet, so I pulled into a left turn behind Lt. Johnston. I was watching the ground and also trying to pick up Lt. Johnston. I didn't actually see the first plane, nor the second hit the ground, but I noticed both of them when they started to burn. I would place their position at Number 1, just south of Male and Number 2, just North of Male close to the river.

I could hear Lt. Johnston calling me, but he couldn't hear me. I tried all channels a number of times, while trying to pick up Lt. Johnston I noticed a parachute drifting and it apparently was going to hit on the West side of the river. I didn't actually see it hit the ground. I continued to circle the river for about ten to fifteen minutes, but could not contact Lt. Johnston, although I could hear him plainly. I then picked up a North North West heading and started back as I wasn't sure of my position. I contacted Stoker and asked him if he could contact Lt. Johnston. He couldn't, so I continued on home to Meatball and landed.

According to Wesley U. Johnston, 1st Lt., witness:

As we approached target area, Lt. Garbarino called to switch to main and drop wing tanks, which the flight proceeded to do. A right diving turn was started, Lt. Garbarino leading, Lt. Westerberg on right wing and Lt. Johnston leading the element on the left with Lt. Davis number four man. After diving from 16,000 feet to approximately 7,000 feet, a turn to the left was started. I had throttled back to 20 inches, airspeed was 380 H.P.H. As the lead element turned left to avoid over running, I lead the element under and behind, and to the right of the lead element, at the same time telling Lt. Davis to cross to the right as our pass was to be to the left. His ship overan me and went above me. From my position to the right of number 2 ship, I saw number 4 man had collided with number 1 man. Number 1 ship started spinning and crashed. At this point I called the flight and said to circle and hold altitude. Number one ship crashed South of Male, number four crashed about a mile North. I did not see either pilot bail out, that is, leave the aircraft. One parachute was seen, and I saw it hit South of Male also. I circled the scene of the crash several times calling the number 2 ship, Lt. Westerberg. I could not contact him. I headed North and called intermittently, Lt. Westerberg, Stoker, Barnum and Hardtack, but failed to receive an answer on any channel. Finally I made contact with Hardtack, then Seaboard. I gave location of crash and number of ships, and where the one parachute landed. I also asked them to try to contact number two man. Upon reaching Lodo, I called Klondike but could not reach them. LX tower came in loud and clear on "C" channel and I landed at Meatball.

As far as this editor knows, Lt. Garbarino was never found and was declared M.I.A., then Killed In Action.

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