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Yap Island Mission Loss—9 August 1944

The following plane was lost on 9 August 1944 on a mission to Yap Island. I would greatly appreciate anyone's help to locate additional information regarding the information listed below.Submit additional information, updates, newpaper articles, pictures, and supporting documents to: pat@missingaircrew.com

Date: Plane Type: Unit: Crew Names: Supporting Documents:
9 August 1944 B-24 13th AF, 5th BG, & 394th BS
  1. Capt. James D. Robertson (0-747320)
  2. 1/Lt. William C. de Christofaro (0-679612)
  3. 1/Lt. Lewis J. Bailey (0-749182)
  4. 1/Lt. John D. Kluge (0-805297)
  5. T/Sgt. Martin A. Vedrody (16057555)
  6. T/Sgt. Cleo W. Knight (18194678)
  7. S/Sgt. Joseph P. McKinney (14022651)
  8. S/Sgt. Gordon E. McMillan (32473214)
  9. S/Sgt. Glenn L. McMillion (35302390)
  10. Cpl. Lewis M. Fiorito (31077154)
MACR 10023

MACR #7343
(pdf file 13 MB)

Description

Never made the squadron rendezvous over Sorol Island on mission to Yap. Unrecoverable.

About the Pilot: Capt James Donald Robertson

Capt James Donald Robertson was with the 13th Air Force, 5th Bombardment Group (H), 394th Bombardment Squadron (H). On August 9, 1944, he took off from Momote, Los Negros with the others from the squadron on the last combat mission to the island of Yap. Just across the equator, the squadron encountered a towering storm front. They were forced to split up and each find their own way through (as was common on the Yap raids). Ap #42-73268, a B-24J-30-CO, never made the squadron rendezvous over Sorol Island. No radio contact was ever made. The pilot flying Capt. Robertson's right wing reported seeing him in the formation at 0300 K.

On the return from Yap, an oblong yellow colored object was seen at 01degree 45' North - 143 degrees 45' East, and could possibly have been two or three life rafts roped together. No positive identification could be made, but the crew reported it to be about as wide and approximately as long as an airplane wing. (Emotions flow) The mission report for that day states that it is assumed that the aircraft went down due to weather conditions. On August 10, 1944, a search mission was flown by four B-24's. The results were negative, however at 06 degrees 11' North - 142 degrees 44' East, an oblong oil slick was sighted. this was at 1130K. At 01 degree 55' North - 143 degrees 45' East, an unopened, unoccupied, 5 man life raft was sighted. At 02 degrees 07' North - 143 degrees 40' East, what appeared to be a floating coconut tree was sighted. It is presumed that this is the object seen yesterday when returning from Yap. Once again, the report states that the weather was the presumable cause of the aircraft's failure to return.

That was the only search conducted for Ap 42-73268. Then, in the Squadron Diary, under the entry for August 9, 1944, it is stated that the aircraft presumably blew up in flight while transferring fuel.

Capt. Robertson had earned enough points for a trip home and this was to be his last mission. It was his last mission, however, he went to a far greater Home than he imagined.

His awards include the Air Medal with 7 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Purple Heart.

Don is listed as: Died: March 18, 1946 Missing in Action or Buried ar Sea.

A Memorial Service was held for Uncle Don at the Judith Gap Congregational Church, April 7, 1946, allowing family and friends to say a last farewell.

His name is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines.

His name is listed at the entry-way to Main Hall at the University of Montana, showing those graduates lost in World War II.

His name is listed at the Memorial Trophy Room in the Montana Historical Society & Museum Building in Helena, MT, showing those lost in World War II from Montana by counties.

On May 28, 1992, a Memorial Service honoring Uncle Don at the Judith Gap Cemetary, Judith Gap, MT. A bronze memorial marker (provided by the government for those military personnel MIA) was installed and a dedication ceremony held.

His name is listed on the Veteran's Memorial Wall on the lawn at the Wheatland County Courthouse in Harlowton, Montana.

His name is listed on the travelling Purple Heart Memorial honoring the military personnel from Montana who were awarded the Purple Heart.

In 1992, the family established a fund that provides an annual scholarship (The Robertson Family Memorial Scholarship In Honor Of Captain Robertson) of $500 to a graduate of Judith Gap High School wishing to further there education at any school of advanced learning in the state of Montana.

Don had a degree from the University of Montana (as an honor student) in Journalism.

While attending Primary Flight Training at Eagle Field, Dos Palos, CA, he was co-editor of their classbook, the Eagle's Log Class 43-E.

Please submit additional information.

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