Bibliography Texts

Searching Expedition — Isla Pinzón

U. S. Army Air Force

NOTE: Re-typed copy of the original document, now declassified. Although Lieutenant John F. Mast also crashed on the same island, the report below makes no mention of this accident. Relevant dates are:

Ussery LB-30 illustration courtesy Hugo Idrovo

Crash Site Photos


Ground Defense Office
APO 662

                                                           3 November 1943.

SUBJECT:  Report of Searching Expedition on Pinzon Island, 30 October 1943.

TO     :  Commanding Officer, U.S. Army Air Base, APO 662.


    Search for wreckage of LB-30 which crashed on Pinzon
    Island on 30 July 1942.
    a. Burial of bodies and grave marking.
    b. Bomb demolition.
    c. Search for personal effects.
    d. Reclamation of salvagable equipment.
    e. Destruction of classified items and documents.

    Capt.   ERNEST G. ISRAEL     - 0436482  - CAC - 932d AAA AW BN
    1st Lt. SAM W. SMITH         - 0432607  - AC  - 6th Bomber Command
    1st Lt. MICHAEL A. MANESTAR  - 01550652 - CD  - Hq. Sqdn, 15th Serv.
    T/Sgt.  ALBERT A. GAUDREAULT - 13023585 - 29th Bomb Sqdn. Photo Sec.
    Sgt.    ROBERT A. MOORE      - 17042081 - 29th Bomb Sqdn. - Ord. Sec.
    Sgt.    EDWARD F. VIDIC      - 36306005 - 29th Bomb Sqdn. - Ord. Sec.
    Cpl.    ORLEN B. CARD        - 36152927 - 29th Bomb Sqdn. - Ord. Sec.
    S/Sgt.  VICTOR W. HALFORD    - 16040196 - Hq. Btry 932d AAA AW BN
    Sgt.    GLEN L. McCLUNG      - 15337466 - Hq. Btry 932d AAA AW BN
    T/4     GEORGE E. HAYES      - 31210550 - Hq. Btry 932d AAA AW BN
    Cpl.    CARL E. MELLIN       - 31207556 - Hq. Btry 932d AAA AW BN
    Cpl.    JOHN M. EADES        - 3556275  - Hq. Btry 932d AAA AW BN
    Pvt.    ROBERT B. MILLER     - 15042965 - Hq. Btry 932d AAA AW BN
    Cpl.    ROBERT PHILLIPS      - 32515834 - Hq. Sqdn., 15th Serv. Gp-Ord. Sec.
    Pvt.    CHARLES M. TRACY     - 37199418 - 926 QM Boat Co.

    One (1) Navigation Chart
    Modification Log
    Silhouettes of US Navy Ships ON154
    One (1) Officers Flight Cap
    Purse - Contents: Photos - No identification
    Personal Mail - Lt. WILLIAM R. USSERY, AC.
    Metal Navigation Chart - Lt. WILLIAM R. USSERY, AC.
    Purse - Lt. RICHARD E. A. REGULA, AC.
         Contents: Name Plate
         Identification Card - Personal Cards
         About $33.00 currency (Estimated because partially burned)
    Purse - Lt. ROBERT L. FORRESTER, AC.
         Contents: Cards and Personal Effects
         Short Snorter Bill
         No other currency


Saturday, 30 October 1943, 2:00 PM, entire party boarded Army Crash Boat P-94. Pinzon Island was reached about 4:00 PM. The entire island was circled in one (1) hour in order to spot plane wreckage and to locate possible approaches. No possible anchorage for the P-94 could be found because of the great depth of the water. The boat and party returned to the base about 10:00 PM.

Sunday, 31 October 1943, 5:00 AM, journey resumed. Arrived at Pinzon Island at 7:00 AM. Complete party landed on island and journey started at 7:30 AM. Chief obstacles were thorn bushes, rocks, and steep precipices. Last section of group arrived at wreckage at 11:30 AM. At noon the party ate lunch, rested and made final plans. Two (2) men were dispatched to return to crash boat and notify them to pick up remaining party on opposite side of island, assuming that better time could be made by party going down the steep, short side of island. This was decided upon due to work remaining at the wreckage: Demolition of unexploded bombs, search for personal and classified items, burial of bodies, and photographs to be taken. The bomb sight could not be located. From a view of the wreckage, it was evident that the entire nose of the plane was crushed on impact. Two (2) fairly intact bodies were located and buried about 100 feet from the main burial plot. The main burial plot was the crater formed from the demolition of a 500 lb. bomb. This was necesssary due to the fact that digging was impossible. A collection of all bones was made and they were laid in the crater. Grave markers were installed in a semi-circular fashion around the grave. A cross was made from a wrecked propeller and a steel bracing. A rosary and prayer book were placed at the cross. All the work at the wreckage was completed by 2:45 PM. The party started the return trip to the crash boat down the steep side of the island opposite the side of approach. Travel was very slow and arduous. The last fresh water was consumed at 4:00 PM. At 6:00 PM, the party had finally made its way to the shore. By 6:30 PM no further movement was possible due to darkness and fatigue, and an encampment was made for the night.

Monday, 1 November 1943, 5:30 AM, the journey started again, but fatigue and thirst prevented any real progress. It was decided to sit and wait at the site of the encampment for the return of the crash boat. At 7:30 AM, the boat was sighted and boarding preparations began. The surf was very rough and the only possible landing was on rocks, there being no beach on the island. Three (3) successful trips to the crash boat were made in a dory, but on the fourth trip to shore, the dory was shattered against the rocks by the breakers. The outboard motor was also wrecked, but the oars were salvaged. The three (3) remaining trips to the crash boat were made in a rubber life raft. The party arrived at the base at 12:30 PM.


Miscellaneous articles of clothing were lost by every member of the party due to the overturning of the dory and while attempts were being made to reach a landing point. Numerous instances of exceptional work on the part of individuals could be cited but the entire group reacted admirably to all the hardships, particularly thirst and fatigue. The P-94 boat crew under S/Sgt. EMILE A. CHRISTIAN, 6132601, 926th QM Boat Co., were of great assistance at all times. Exceptional work was performed by Pvt. MILLARD F. FUREY, 11069815, 926th QM Boat Co., Sgts. MOORE and HAYES, and Pvt. TRACY of the searching party, in shuttling men from the shore to the crash boat in the dory and rubber boat. T/Sgt. GAUDREAULT was burdend with a 20 lb. pack consisting of a camera and other photographic equipment during the entire trip. He was very instrumental in getting a complete photographic history of the mission. The camera was slightly damaged but extreme precaution was taken at all times to keep the camera and other equipment dry. The entire expedition was successful. All the stated objectives were achieved, and a complete coverage was made. As a training aid, the trip was invaluable showing the need for good physical conditioning, intensive Infantry training, and severe water discipline. The success of the trip was also due to the thorough preparation which was made by each member of the party, particularly the efforts put forth by Lt. MANESTAR in behalf of the entire group.

Capt., C.A.C.
Actg. Ground Defense Officer.



NOTE: Index to the Gorgas Hospital Mortuary Death Records show the remains of Lieutenants Ussery and Regula were received and buried on June 7, 1946. The two officers were presumably the “fairly intact bodies” noted above, and were buried under separate markers. The other remains received and buried on the same date were Ussery's crewmen, as indicated at the bottom of the Death Records page.