USAAF WORLD WAR II
Engineer T/Sgt. Neil J. Gaudet MIA/KIA
Squadron: 321st 90th Bomb Group
Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart
Pilot 1st/Lt. Walter E. Higgins RTD
Target: Bombing mission against a Japanese convoy
Mission Date: 6-Jan-43
Serial Number: # 41-23750
Aircraft Model B-24D-1-CO
Aircraft Name: "Cowtown's Revenge"
Location: ditched off Litisa island
Cause: Unknown Crew of 11 MIA/KIA
Wartime HistoryAssigned to the 5th Air Force, 90th Bombardment Group, 321st Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Cowtown's Revenge" with the nose art of a bull's head with horns on the left side of the nose.
Mission History On January 6, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome (Jackson) near Port Moresby on a bombing mission against a Japanese convoy off New Britain. Damaged during the attack, this B-24 ditched off Litisa island (Islet Island) and Lifaba Island (Lebata Island) roughly fifteen miles west of Kawa Island. Gaudet died in the ditching and went down with the bomber and was never seen again. The rest of the crew survived and swamp ashore. Satterfield was severely injured.
Fates of the Crew The surviving seven crew members swam to nearby Lifaba Island (Lebata). Satterfield died from his injuries and was buried by his crew on the island.
Rescue Afterwards, crew was spotted by a B-24D Liberator piloted by McMurria which observed them on the beach and dropped them supplies. Afterwards, he landed at Milne Bay to alert authorities and return with a flying boat to rescue the crew.
James McMurria recalls in Fight For Survival page 20: Higgins had sent in a report of his approximate position just before he crashed so I got busy on it and searched the area north of Goodenough Island. It was the greatest mission I ever been on - we found them on Islet Island. Eight of the ten survived. We dropped them water, food, blankets and mosquito nets then went back to Milne Bay and got the Catalina out there in a hurry. It was a magnificent feeling to save someone's life and it makes a lot more sense than the work I'm doing most of the time."
On January 7, 1943 B-24D Liberator piloted by McMurria led Catalina A24-2 to rescue the surviving crew.
Edward Rogers adds: "I found a description of the rescue by the RAAF co-pilot P/O Albert Minty. The name of the B-24 pilot was 1st Lt. Walter E. Higgins while the RAAF pilot who flew the Catalina which rescued them was Fl/Lt Brian H. "Tubby" Higgins. Four months later Fl/Lt Higgins died in a rough water landing on 24 May 1943."
T/Sgt. Gaudet is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
"Cowtown's Revenge" Crew
1st/Lt. Walter E. Higgins Pilot RTD
2nd/Lt. Lyle Schoenaue Co Pilot RTD
Lt. George Sellma Navigator RTD
2nd/Lt. Robert Paviour Bombardier RTD
T/Sgt Neil J. Gaudet Engineer MIA/KIA
Cpl. Ralph Wolf Radio Op RTD
S/Sgt. Henry W. Satterfield Gunner KIA
Sgt Leonard Gunner RTD
T/SGT ARMY AIR FORCES
WORLD WAR II
Gravesite Details Cenotaph
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