Lieut John Barr Willcoxon

Lieut John Barr Willcoxon

Oberlin, Decatur County, Kansas, USA
Death 20 Jul 1943 (aged 28)
Papua New Guinea
Burial Oberlin, Decatur County, Kansas, USA
Memorial ID 111294385 · View Source
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John Barr Willcoxon was born in Oberlin, Decatur County, Kansas, and attended Decatur Community High School. He went on to graduate from Fort Hays State College with a degree in business.

After graduating college, John went into business in Topeka and at the same time continued his significant community involvement. He also earned his private pilot's license during his time in Topeka.

Early in 1941, he enlisted in the Army Air Corp and was eventually assigned to flight training at Kelly Field in San Antonio, TX. His B-24 Liberator unit was deployed to Hickam Army Airfield in HI and soon after forward deployed to Iron Range, Australia where he was made Group Operations Officer under Col Rogers.

According to Wiley O. Woods' book The Legacy of the 90th BG, Howard was on a 320th Squadron aircraft flown by the Group Operations Officer 1st Lt John B. Willcoxon. They were to cover the Madang area and give a continuous weather report along the route and upon the last report were to bomb the Gori River Bridge.

The last weather report was received at 1001 and 5 minutes later, they were fighting for their lives. Lt E.P. Dunshea of the Australian Army witnessed the fight and said that they initially had nine-later sixteen-Zeros pursuing them as they zigzagged down the Ramu Valley. They shot down three of the attackers, which crashed near Lihona in the Finnisterre Mountains and may have shot down another.

Fifteen minutes later the [Japanese] had started a fire in the bomb bay and at 1020, the ship blew up.

Japanese sources say that five of the attackers were Tony's from the 2nd Chutai of the 68th Sentai flying out of Wewak. Credit for shooting down the plane was given to the Chutai Commander, Capt Shogo Takeuchi.

This was the first American plane to be destroyed in combat by a pilot of a Tony. Takeuchi was to die in a landing accident on Dec 21, 1943.

McCalmont was buried at the Taru Mission. (Text extracted from:

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  • Created by: Michael E Conner
  • Added: 27 May 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 111294385
  • Michael E Conner
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Lieut John Barr Willcoxon (15 Jul 1915–20 Jul 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 111294385, citing Oberlin Cemetery, Oberlin, Decatur County, Kansas, USA ; Maintained by Michael E Conner (contributor 48138491) .