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Fred Carter Crew —Shot Down on 12 February 1944 over Rabaul
Excerpt about the Rice Crew shoot down from "The Long Rangers" by Sam Britt:
On the February 12th mission to Vunakanau, Rabual, Lt. Fred C. Carter, Jr's (372nd) plane was hot by A/A fire in the vicinity of the flight deck. The shell seemed to burst inside the ship and soon afterwards the plane fell out of formation and crashed. Two men were observed bailing out and were fired upon by enemy A/A. The plane piloted by Lt. Leslie J. Carson, Jr. (372nd) was hot five times. Lt, Mather's (372nd) plane received three hits; lt. Homer Faucett's (372nd) plane was hit twice and Lt. Mark J. Rifkin's (372nd) plane was hit by a piece from Carter's plane. (page 84)
MSgt. Rick Lawrence, USMC/USAFR Overview:
The Fred Carter crew on plane 42-72818 (MACR 2292) was shot down on 2/12/1944 over Rabaul. The original commander of this crew had been Captain John Penington. Captain Penington had flown the Wicked Wench to Guadalcanal via Midway and some of the crew in the below photo had made that first trip with him, but he can't remember which ones. Carter was his co-pilot and when Penington moved on to S-2, Carter took over the crew. The original bombardier, Lt. Harold Mote or Motes, shown in the crew photo also left the crew in January 1944, shortly after the photograph was taken. He rotated back to the States for another training course. Lt. Jack Daniel, who was already in the 307th but with a different crew, transferred to Carter's team that same month.
The plane was shot down by anti-aircraft fire. Witnesses from other aircraft saw the plane get hit and noted that the aircraft seemed to right itself after being briefly out of control but then started its downward plunge to the ground. It was reported that one, possibly two parachutes were seen but this was not confirmed. Neither the plane nor the crew was heard from again until 1948 when, at the request of the mother of Lt. Daniel, the Army Grave Registration Team began an investigation and eventually located the crash site. Over the next three days, the team processed the site and found the remains or partial remains of at least five different crewmen. The first one found was Sgt. Charlie Carter Plott's. His was ID'ed by his dog tags, which I know have. Next was found an ID bracelet for TSgt. Russell Picard and then a bracelet for Leon Roberson. Villagers in the area stated that two parachutes did land in the area of the crash and reported seeing one of the chutes suspended in a tree with a body connected to it. They did not stay in the area very long as the Jap's ran them off. They stated the Japs carried the body away. It is unknown what happened to the second chutist but we probably have a pretty good idea what occurred if he lived from his jump. Jack Roberson, the brother of Leon Roberson, told me that he was told it was his brother whose body was hanging from the trees and that the ID bracelet found was actually being worn by a native boy & given to the site investigators. Jack now has that bracelet. The natives also stated that four bodies were buried next to the plane after the crash but at some point an Australian sergeant and a civilian came through the area and exhumed the bodies & took them away. It is unknown at this point whose bodies they were or what happened to them. This would make a total of eleven (5 sets of partial remains, 2 chutist, and 4 graves) which would account for the entire crew, even though not all bodies were recovered by the team. The recovered remains were buried together at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, MO in 1950.
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