Pvt. Fred G. Fagan

May 29, 2014 by Dr. Mark Fagan

I am Department Head Emeritus for Sociology and Social Work at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama. I compiled this summary from two reports issued to me by the U.S. Department of Defense and from sources I researched on my own. It summarizes the mission involving my uncle, Pvt. Fred G. Fagan, who was one of 7 service men on a plane that went missing during World War II in 1944 and was found, excavated and analyzed from 2002-2005. He was part of a group burial of these men (Olbinski Group) in Arlington National Cemetery on July 15, 2010. There was a Commemorative Ceremony held at McChord AFB, WA for this crew on May 23, 2011 (67th Anniversary of the crash).  There was a Memorial Service for the Olbinski Crew at Arlington National Cemetery on May 23, 2012 (68th Anniversary of the crash) where the group headstone was dedicated.  Finally, there was a service held at Arlington on the 70th Anniversary of the flight going down.

The following information about the China-Burma-India Theater and the airlift missions, as well as the flight of the (Captain) Olbinski Group, was taken from Steeljaw Scribe. The China-Burma-India Theater covered the terrain of the jungles of the Mandalay peninsula to the Himalayan Mountains. "The first Americans began flying there as part of Claire Chenault's American Volunteer Group (AVG), better known as the Flying Tigers. As the war progressed and America entered following Pearl Harbor, one of the challenges to be faced was how to provide supplies to Chinese forces fighting the Japanese in the interior of China. The main road from Burma to China had been cut when Burma fell to the Japanese Army in the spring of 1942. The only way to get supplies to Chiang Kai-shek's forces was to fly them in while plans were drawn up to recapture northern Burma and build a new road."

"Building on the experience of the China National Aviation Corp (CNAC) and Pan American Airways which had been operating in the area since the late 1930s, the Army's Air Transport Command, using elements of the 10th Air Force, began flying cargo "over the Hump" in late 1942. By the spring of 1944, the lift effort had substantially grown and was beginning to look to supply the first B-29 missions operating from China to try and attack the Japanese homeland. Initially, C-47 Skytrains and C-46 Commandos were used to fly the routes with the nod going to the Commando for its higher service ceiling than the C-47 and its pressurized cabin.

According to the CNAC, a new supply line was needed into China by late 1940. There were four fundamental requirements for a new air base: near a seaport, riverport or railhead; the distance into China would have to be within range of the aircraft and short enough for economic operations; be comparatively secure from Japanese attack; and in a country which would allow the CNAC to operate. The best choice was in Upper Assam, India. This meant the planes would have to fly over the Himalayas without weather forecasting yet exposures to polar air masses, violent blizzards and 125 mph crosswinds. The other option that was considered was a 4,000-mile leapfrog operation from New Delhi and then parallel to the main Himalayan ranges on the Chinese side. Had this route been used, there could have been only minimum pay loads and could have forced China to drop out of the war.
Fred Fagan
Flying the Hump in a DC-3 in 1941 (Photo from Audrene and Bob Sherwood)

The following was presented by the China-Burma-India Hump Pilots Association, Poplar Bluff, Missouri, August 24, 2001

The "Hump" operation in China-Burma-India Theater of Operations (CBI) during World War II was the first sustained, long range, 24 hour around the clock, all-weather, aerial supply route in history. It lasted approximately 3½ years, from April 1942 until November 1945. This mission was made necessary in early 1942 when the Imperial Japanese armed forces captured Burma and cut off all supply routes to China except by air, and a pledge made by the United States that it would continue to support China's ongoing war efforts.

The only aerial route available was across a mostly uncivilized jungle and extremely mountainous region of far north Burma and western China, from the Assam Valley in far northeastern India to various airports in the Yunnan province of southwest China. The length of the route was approximately 525 miles. The mountains over which it crossed was a north-south spur of the main Himalaya Mountain chain to the north. The original route varied in height from approximately 16,000MSL on the north to approximately 12,000 to the south.

Development of the route was a start-from-scratch operation, without precedence. Initially there were few air bases, no established routes, very little weather reporting, no enroute navigational aids, and no aircraft truly suited for this type flying. It was an area of extremely hazardous weather, with almost continuous rain and thunderstorms during the summer monsoon season, and winter weather consisting of violent thunderstorms and turbulence, extremely high winds aloft, severe icing, and early morning ground fogs. Instrument approaches were all nonprecision, made on nondirectional low frequency radio beacons with no real weather minimums. And, during the first two years Japanese fighter aircraft presented a hazard to operations.

The first operation, conducted jointly by the U.S. Army 10th Air Force and the China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC), was to fly fuel and supplies to China in support of the Doolittle B-25 air raid on Tokyo. Initial sustained operations began from far-western India in May 1942, with 27 converted Douglas DC-3 airliners, and approximately 1,100 pilots and support personnel of the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) 1st Ferry Group. They were attached to the 10th Air Force for support. Douglas C-47 aircraft were later added. During the first two months 96 tons of supplies were flown to China. CNAC, jointly owned by Pan American Airways and the Chinese government, flying DC-3s and C-47s, operated over the Hump throughout the war.

In summer 1942 operations moved to new U.S. bases in the Assam Valley. On December 1, 1942, primary military responsibility for the supply operation was assigned to the USAAF Air Transport Command (ATC). Consolidated C-87s (converted four engine B-24s) and twin engine Curtis C-46s began to arrive in the spring of 1943, aircraft better suited for high altitude flying. Douglas C-54 four engine aircraft began operations in the fall of 1944. All aircraft were nonpressurized and crews were required to wear oxygen masks at high altitudes.

Living conditions in the humid jungle-like atmosphere of the Assam Valley were very primitive. Most personnel lived in tents and bamboo bashas. Food was military C-rations as no eating off base was permitted for health reasons. Dysentery and malaria were always health threats. Entertainment was very limited.

In July 1945, the last full month of operations, approximately 71,000 tons of supplies, primarily aviation fuel, bombs and ammunition and other miscellaneous supplies, were flown over the Hump. In August 1945, the operation consisted of approximately 622 aircraft, 34,000 military personnel, and 47,000 civilian personnel. Final 1945 official causality figures show 509 downed aircraft identified and 81 listed as missing. In addition 1,314 crewmembers were reported killed, 1,171 survived bailouts, and 345 were listed as missing.

Other operations conducted in the Hump area were aerial supply missions by 10th Air Force Troop Carrier and Combat Cargo Commands and 20th Air Force Air Transport Squadrons, and combat mission by the 10th, 14th and 20th Air Forces. These operations were conducted in support of their Command objectives.


Myitkyina, in Burma, was located on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River. Literally meaning "near the big river," Myitkyina was the northern most terminus for rails and river traffic anything going north would have to be brought in by portage, mule or small boat around the lower elevations, the terrain is just too rugged for anything else. As such, Myitkyina was by default, a strategically important position and one that in the spring of 1944 was still being contested for between the 33rd Imperial Japanese Army and Allied ground forces under General Vinegar Joe Stillwell.

Fred Fagan
Mountains and River in Burma, 1944 (Photo by 164th Signal Photo Co. US ARMY)

In the spring of 1944, American forces (Merrill's Marauders) launched a major ground offensive to wrest control of Myitkyina, Burma from the Japanese. The airfield at Myitkyina was very important in supplying troops in Burma and China and for recapturing Burma from the Japanese. However, by the beginning of May, the Allied troops laying siege to the city faced critical supply shortages. Due to the unforgiving terrain and crude roads, U.S. Army Air Force cargo planes based in India became a lifeline to the soldiers fighting across northern Burma.

Fred Fagan
Merrill's Marauders on the Trail in Burma, 1944 (Photo by 164th Signal Photo Co. US ARMY)

Fred Fagan
Walking Wounded in Burma, 1944 (Photo by 164th Signal Photo Co. US ARMY)

Fred served as a member of Merrill's Marauders, named after their leader, General Frank Merrill, but officially named the 5307th Composite Unit. They were a U.S. long range penetration special forces unit in the South-East Asian Theater of World War II which fought in the Burma Campaign. The unit was famed for deep movements behind Japanese rear defenses and thrusts toward superior forces. They were composed of U.S. Army Rangers and were an all-volunteer unit that was first sent to India for training in 1943.

Fred Fagan
Merrill's Marauders in Burma, 1944 (Photo by 164th Signal Photo Co. US ARMY)

According to SFC. Robert E. Passanisi, who was a member of Merrill's Marauders and currently, the Historian for their web site, "the British were not involved in the Myitkyina campaign in any way." He was one of the Marauders that had marched 65 miles with mules over rugged mountainous terrain and fought the Japanese and re-captured the airfield at Myitkyina from the Japanese on May 17, 1944. "We probably were less than 500 Marauders that took the airstrip, the Chinese were behind us and came in for the mop up," he said. These men were weakened by hunger and disease from malaria, bloody dysentery, and/or scrub typhus from sleeping on infected areas in the mud. He also said, "The C-47 (C-47-A #42-23510) was on a drop mission to supply some of our troops still engaged, North of Myitkyina. Planes headed to the airfield were able to land and didn't need drop crews. The Marauders the drop was intended for, didn't have three days of food, they probably had gone three or more days without food. The only time we would have three days of food would be right after a drop."

Fred Fagan
General Merrill at Myitkyina Airfield in Burma, 1944 (Photo by 164th Signal Photo Co. US ARMY)

Fred Fagan

Plane Departed from Dinjan, India

On the morning of May 23, 1944, C-47-A #42-23510, 4th Troop Carrier Squadron (Olbinski Group), lifted off from the airfield in Dinjan, India with the mission of delivering desperately needed mortar shells and supplies to Myitkyina. Ground crews from the 10th Air Force started working before dawn to load the twin-engine cargo aircraft with supplies. The flight plan listed Myitkyina (Union of Burma, now Myanmar; Kachin State, Myitkyina District) as the intended drop zone. The Missing Air Crew Report described unfavorable weather conditions: "ceiling 100 feet, visibility 1/4 mile and rain." The Missing Air Crew Report on May 25, 1944 indicated that the plane was flying by instruments due to the conditions. The crew made a routine radio contact but the aircraft failed to reach Myitkyina. AAF officials subsequently reported the crew as missing and classified the cause of the aircraft loss as "unknown."

Fred Fagan

The Olbinski unit supported air resupply operations as part of the Air Transportation Command (ATC) in the China-Burma-India campaign from India. This was the only C-47 Skytrain cargo plane from either the 62nd or 64th Troop Carrier Groups supporting that mission that failed to return from a mission during that time. One of the ATC's Commander Colonel Hardin's first orders more that a year previously decreed, "Effective immediately, there will be no more weather over the Hump." The movement of tonnage of war supplies was more important than all other considerations, even the safety of the aircraft and crew.
Fred Fagan C-47 Cockpit

Dinjan Airfield, where the flight departed, was located 7 miles northeast of Chabua in the state of Assam, India. It was built on a tea plantation beginning in March 1942, as a result of the Japanese invasion of Burma in December 1941. Its mission was the protection of cargo aircraft flying over "The Hump" (Himalayan Mountains). Flying over the Himalayas was extremely dangerous and made more difficult by a lack of reliable charts, an absence of radio navigation aids, and a dearth of information about the weather. Fog and updrafts were also present in those areas that made flying difficult. However, the re-capture in May 1944 of Myitkyina airfield by American and Chinese troops deprived the Japanese of their principal fighter airfield threatening aircraft flying the Hump. Its capture also opened regular use of a second, more direct airlift route dubbed the "Low Hump." Fred Fagan
Burma Air Drop

The Olbinski Group belonged to the 4th Troop Carrier Squadron of the 62nd Troop Carrier Group and were recent arrivals in theater from operations in the Mediterranean. The war was definitely heating up in the Imphal Valley and around Myitkyina. Their mission would bring desperately needed supplies to the troops engaged around Myitkyina. Captain Joseph M. Olbinski, already a decorated airman (DFC and Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster for operations in the Mediterranean Theater) and a native of Chicago, Illinois was the mission pilot. Accompanying him were the rest of his crew and three members of Merrill's Marauders. The flight departed to the southeast, climbing over the Singpho and Namkiu mountain ridges enroute. The terrain varied wildly from the flat flood plains in India to mountain peaks over 20,000 feet tall, challenging the C-47 and its limited service ceiling.

Fred Fagan
Air Drop Crew (Pvt. Crane is the Kicker) (Photo by 164th Signal Photo Co. US ARMY)

The 64th Troop Carrier Group and the 4th Troop Carrier Squadron of the 62nd Troop Carrier Group were awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations during the period of April 7 to June 15, 1944. The following information was excerpted from the wording for that citation. On April 1, 1944, the 64th Carrier Group and the 4th Troop Carrier Squadron were ordered from their stations in the Mediterranean Theater to India to give desperately needed support to isolated Allied units fighting in the Imphal Valley and Myitkyina areas. Realizing that a defeat in this sector would imperil the entire Allied effort in India and China, air and ground personnel of the troop carrier squadrons valiantly and perseveringly struggled against the most disheartening odds throughout the emergency to accomplish their mission. Flights were made in the unarmed and unarmored aircraft during daylight and darkness, often in adverse weather over strange jungle and mountainous terrain, where enemy ground fire and aerial attack were continually encountered. Eleven airplanes were lost because of enemy action, inclement weather, and the necessity of operating from inadequately prepared landing strips. Frequently, the aircraft and crews were subjected to hostile fire while landing and unloading on improvised airstrips which were completely surrounded by the enemy. As the crisis intensified, safety precautions were relaxed and Pararacks and parachutes removed to permit the carrying of increased cargo loads. Flying more than 6,000 sorties, aircraft of these units transported 35,000 troops, 13,000 tons of food and equipment, medical supplies, arms, ammunitions, and 390 mules, evacuating on return flights more than 3,500 Allied casualties. Through the proficiency and heroic self-sacrifice on the part of each member of the expedition in accomplishing almost impossible feats, the reinforced Allied army was enabled to resume the offensive and drive the enemy from this area.

Fred Fagan
Landscape in Burma, 1944 (Photo by 164th Signal Photo Co. US ARMY)

In October 1945, the acting director of intelligence for the 1352nd AAF Base Unit, reported that the area of probable crash of this aircraft had been thoroughly covered by 12 search missions consisting of 66 hours flown by rescue organizations operating out of Burma and China. He surmised the C-47-A "either exploded in the area scattering parts for miles or crashed into the jungle and is not visible from the air. The War Department issued a finding of death for each man aboard this plane on April 3, 1946. The finding of death listed the "circumstances of disappearance" as an aircraft "which failed to return from an air supply mission to Burma." area.

In October 1947, a board of officers from the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) met in Calcutta "to review and determine if further search is warranted in the case of certain missing and deceased personnel for which little or no likelihood of the success of such searching appears." The board summarized the facts related to the case for C-47-A #42-23510, including the last known contact. The aircrew, on "an air supply mission from Dinjan, India to a drop target (25 degrees 22' - 97 degrees 21'), made their last radio contact "at 0819 hours at which time the aircraft was reported at coordinates 25 degrees 40' - 97 degrees 05', heading towards the drop zone." One source indicated that the radio transmission reached the aircraft as it flew "approximately 27 miles northwest of Myitkyina." The AGRS board alluded to "possible enemy action along the line of flight" and recommended terminating any future search efforts since "the probable area in which the plane crashed encompasses many hundreds of square miles of mountainous jungle terrain," rendering any ground-based searches impossible without further evidence. The AGRS also cited "profuse jungle growth," the probable dispersal of remains due to any ill-fated parachute drops that may have occurred, and possible contact with the enemy as additional compelling reasons to declare the remains "non-recoverable." The board concluded that the remains of the crew would "never be found except through chance."

In February 1948, the Office of the Quartermaster General in Washington, D.C. approved the findings reached by the AGRS board in India. The American Battle Monuments Commission subsequently memorialized the 7 airmen aboard C-47-A #42-23510; their names appear on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, the Republic of the Philippines.


In March 2001, Central Identification Laboratory-Hawaii received an email from the Air Attache' attached to the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Burma. This email stated that they received a call from a priest in Kachin State, Myanmar (Burma)" regarding possible "wreckage of a C-47 about 15 miles west of Myitkyina." On February 22, 2002, the JPAC historian received an envelope containing two photographs of the possible wreckage and a small data plate from one of the engine parts. In May 2003, JPAC received an email from the Kachin Veterans Committee which stated a man had the dogtags of some of the crewmembers on the plane.

Fred Fagan

In January 2003, JPAC investigators deployed to Burma in order to survey the site and conduct interviews. This resulted in finding the dogtags and bracelets from some of the crew. From 27 February through 18 March 2004, a JPAC recovery team from the Central Identification Laboratory deployed to Burma to excavate the site of the crash. The recovery team unearthed a "few osseous human remains" including "six teeth and three small hand/foot bones." On October 19, 2005, two bone samples were submitted to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory for mitochondrial DNA testing. On September 6, 2007 four dental samples were submitted for mtDNA testing. Shortly after that the human remains were confirmed to be for Robert Anderson and Joseph Auld. The remainder of the human remains could not be designated for any other single man on this plane, but with the laboratory analysis and the totality of the circumstantial evidence, it was established that these were the Group Remains from this incident.

Fred Fagan
Route of the Plane

Fred Fagan

Fred Fagan
The Crash Site

The recovery scene (470 square meters) was located in the far northern portion of Burma, 27 miles northwest of the city of Myitkyina. The excavation team accessed the site by flying on a helicopter for 22 minutes from Myitkyina. The nearest habitation is the small village of Auche, Myitkyina District, several hours away by foot. The altitude was 2,940 feet above mean sea level. The recovery scene is in rugged forested foothills and is tropical dry forest, interspersed with large clumps of bamboo and clinging vines. None of the trees in the scene predate the time of the loss incident. This region underwent logging multiple decades ago, possibly at which time this wreckage was found initially by Burmese locals. The central crash area is located in a small perennial stream and up either bank.

Fred Fagan

The visible wreckage at the outset of excavation included large intact pieces: the main portion of both wings, the tail section, both engines, both landing gear, one propeller, and large pieces of fuselage. These had undergone some scattering upon impact and through subsequent stream/scavenging action, but remained in the approximate relative positions. Other objects were also visible on the surface, including: multiple parachute harness and cargo harness elements, detached control surfaces, leather fragments, and multiple 81 mm mortar rounds. The burning of the aircraft after crashing (as indicated by the presence of melted metal fragments) caused multiple 81 mm mortar rounds to explode, further dispersing the wreckage. The findings from the excavation included few human remains due to the factors present from the impact of the aircraft and the large number of years of harsh climate and subsequent stream action. Multiple items of material evidence were recovered, including major aircraft components and aircrew-related items.

Fred Fagan

There is an explanation of what happened to the plane that is based on the examination of the crash site including the remains of the plane. It appears that the plane exploded in air before hitting the ground. This was probably the result of enemy fire which pierced the skin of the plane and hit in the cargo area which had many rounds of mortar shells. This cargo ignited and caused the plane to explode sending parts of the plane to the ground (engines, propellers, wings and tail piece). The plane was probably flying low to the ground at the time of the fire, which could have been rifle fire (there were reports of hostile fire from enemy troops at that time). There was no hole in the ground from the impact of the unexploded plane. There was evidence of burning of the plane in that the metal pieces to the seats, seat belts, parachutes, etc. were melted due to exposure to extremely high temperatures (the explosion of the plane and resulting fire ball). The middle of the plane was destroyed from the explosion.

The conclusion from the human remains and the crewmember-related items found were that there was an ID Tag for Olbinski and Dawson, human remains for Auld and Anderson, and ID Bracelets for Anderson and Frantz. Seven data plates from aircraft parts were recovered with two specific to a C-47 aircraft and five generic to several different types of WWII aircraft. The crew-related items that were recovered included: 1 slide rule (used for load analysis on C-47s); 3 watch backs with serial numbers; 36 foreign coins (mostly from India); 2 officer's metal insignia, lieutenant's grades; 2 shield-shaped insignia; 1 aircrew wings insignia; 1 aviator's sunglasses; Fountain pen parts, 1 camera piece; two small and two large knives; and one small compass. Other items were found and photographed but not retained: parachute parts; seat belt components; aircraft tools; zipper components; boot components; leather components; and multiple 81 mm mortar rounds.

The available historical evidence associated with the case file, along with the material evidence, indicates that the aircraft wreckage in Myitkyina district, Kachin State, Burma, correlates with the circumstances of the loss of C-47-A #42-23510. Identification media and several pieces of wreckage demonstrate an association with this particular aircraft. From 2001 to 2004, JPAC recovered ID tags, identification bracelets, and other personal items that correlate with several of the crew. JPAC teams also located aircraft data plates that confirm that the wreckage belonged to the C-47 cargo aircraft. The reported crash site also correlates with the flight path of the C-47-A #42-23510.

JULY 14, 2010

The Army planned a visitation where the remains of the 7 service men were on display along with memorabilia from their families. This allowed sharing of pictures and stories about their soldier. The Army presented each family with a Gold Star, flag case, and the awards for each soldier. Fred received the following awards: Star, Service, Bronze, 2; Army Good Conduct Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Combat Infantryman Badge; Ranger Tab; Honorable Service Lapel Button- World War II; the Purple Heart; and the Presidential Unit Citation (formerly referred to as Distinguished Unit Citation). Also, there was a guest registry for each of the 7 families that were signed by the visitors.

There were representatives from the 4th Airlift Squadron, the successor squadron for the 4th Troop Squadron (the squadron of the crashed plane), that made presentations. Brigadier General William Bender and LTC. Rod Lewis, the current commander, addressed the families. The 4th Airlift Squadron flies the C-17 Globemaster III and recently celebrated their 75th Anniversary. They are based at McChord Air Force Base in Seattle, Washington. They are engaged in operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Antarctica. They are the only airlift squadron in the DOD that is permitted to transport nuclear weapons. This squadron represents the legacy of the squadron for which these 7 men were attached.

Family members of the dead soldiers were asked to speak for the soldiers and tell of their lives. Captain Jacob Hina, who accompanied the remains from Hawaii to Washington, DC, also spoke about the trip home for these men. He reported that these men were honored at every stop along the way. He said that when the plane arrived, it was announced that the remains of the 7 service men lost since 1944 were on board the plane, and all passengers clapped and gave a standing ovation which moved him to tears.

There were also two original members of the 2,700 member Merrill's Marauders that spoke of their experience in India and Burma during WW II. One was involved in the recapturing of the airfield at Myitkyina, SFC. Robert Passanissi, and was one of the men that the C-47 was flying to resupply. He explained how the 4 air crew (pilot, co-pilot, navigator and radio man) were actually in the Army Air Force and the 3 drop crew members were actually members of Merrill's Marauders. However, this was a joint mission and these three men were men were under the command of the pilot (Captain Olbinski) and therefore attached to the 4th Troop Carrier Squadron for this mission. The Merrill's Marauders left men behind to fly in the planes and make sure that their men on the ground got what they needed.

JULY 15, 2010

The 7 men on the plane were: Army Capt. Joseph M. Olbinski (Pilot), Chicago, IL; 1st Lt. Joseph J. Auld (Co-Pilot), Floral Park, NY; 1st Lt. Robert M. Anderson (Navigator), Millen, GA; Tech. Sgt. Clarence E. Frantz (Radio Operator), Tyrone, PA.; Pfc. Richard M. Dawson (Drop Crew), Haynesville, VA; Pvt. Robert L. Crane (Drop Crew), Sacramento, CA and Pvt. Fred G. Fagan (Drop Crew), Piedmont, AL. There was an individual casket (left at the grave site) for Auld and a group casket (transported from the chapel) for the 6 others.

The service began at 9:00 am with the Army's "Pershing's Own" band played as the remains were brought to the Old Post Chapel and carried inside the chapel. Organs played inside as the casket was brought to the front of the chapel. The hymn, "God of Our Fathers," was followed by a scripture reading and an invocation by Chaplain Hernandez. He then gave the eulogy and read the names of the service men. Chaplain Gabriel then gave a sermonette and a prayer which was followed by the hymn, "America the Beautiful." The remains were then taken outside the chapel and placed on the 7-horse caisson (two horses were without riders).

The band led the procession from the chapel down an avenue of oaks to the grave site, where "The Old Guard" from the 3rd Infantry Regiment provided the military honors. The caisson took the casket through Arlington Cemetery for the one-mile journey to the grave site, which is in Section 60 and in view of the Washington Monument and Air Force Memorial. Some family members walked behind the caisson, the band, and the 20-unit marching party.

The families gathered at the grave site as an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, flown by the 4th Airlift Squadron, flew over to honor the return of the heroes from 66 years ago. A squad of seven riflemen fired three shots for the 21-gun salute. A trumpeter played taps and then the band played "America." A folded American Flag was presented to each family. This was followed by a sympathy card presentation for each family by an Arlington Lady and one card for each family from the Secretary of Defense (presented by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Missing Personnel Affairs). Final honors were presented by Chaplains Hernandez and Gabriel.


A presentation (click here to see the slide show) was given by LTC. Lewis, Commander of the 4th Airlift Squadron based at McChord Air Force Base in Seattle, Washington. This squadron is the direct descendent of the 4th Troop Carrier Squadron. He discussed the history of the current squadron and how the legacy has been carried on through the current squadron. It was reported that the names of the 7 service men are found on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines. Families were then given mementos of the current squadron and welcomed as family members.

By Mark Fagan (2010)

Fred Fagan
Pvt. Fred G. Fagan, 1944

Fred Fagan

Fred G. Fagan, 1942

Fred G. Fagan was born on October 21, 1918 on a farm in the country outside Piedmont, Alabama which is in the Appalachian foothills of Northeastern Alabama. He was number 6 of 10 children and he had 4 brothers that also fought overseas in U.S. military. He was a teen during the Great Depression and had difficulty getting his education because he had to work hard on the farm to help his family survive those tough economic times. His major form of transportation was walking in those days. He never married and had no children. He lived in Piedmont until 1943 when he was drafted into the Army.

He was a brave, loving, humorous and hard-working man with integrity. He loved his parents, brothers and sisters very much. They loved him very much as well. This love kept him alive in their collective memory for many years after he was reported missing and eventually declared dead. This love for him was shown in his family's hope that somehow he might have survived and might still return home to be with them once again. Family discussions for many years would include stories about how maybe he parachuted out of the plane and was taken in by the natives or captured by the Japanese and that he might someday find his way home again.

He served as a member of Merrill's Marauders, officially named the 5307th Composite Unit that was a U.S. long range penetration special forces unit in the South-East Asian Theater of World War II which fought in the Burma Campaign. The unit was famed for deep movements behind Japanese rear defenses and thrusts toward superior forces. They were composed of U.S. Army Rangers and were an all-volunteer unit that was first sent to India for training in 1943. Fred fought in 6 major battles according to Brigadier General Frank Merrill in a letter to Fred's mother. One week before he went missing, 500 of his fellow rangers marched 65 miles with mules to help take the strategically important airfield at Myitkyina from the Japanese. These men were weakened by hunger and sick from the extreme conditions in the area.

Fred's final mission was to help deliver desperately needed supplies and mortar shells to his fellow soldiers who were fending off the Japanese. The plane he was on never returned. He bravely gave his life for his country in a valiant effort to serve his comrades.

Fred Fagan

Fred's Four Brothers that also fought overseas in WW II

Fred Fagan

General Merrill in Burma, 1944 (Photo by 164th Signal Photo Co. US ARMY)

Fred Fagan

Fred Fagan
Letter from General Merrill to Annie Fagan


Click on the links below to view videos on the topics shown. These videos are on You Tube and can be downloaded from there.

1 . Mark Fagan Speaks for Fred Fagan at Visitation

2. Captain Jacob S. Hina Speaks about Accompanying Remains from Hawaii to Washington

3. Mark Fagan Receives Medals for Fred G. Fagan

4a. Casket with Group Remains are Brought into the Chapel at Arlington (side view)

4b. Group Remains are Brought into the Chapel at Arlington (front view)

5. Part of the Chapel Service at Arlington

6a. Group Remains are Taken from the Chapel at Arlington (front view)

6b. Group Remains are Taken from the Chapel at Arlington (side view)

7. Casket is taken from the Chapel by Caisson

8. Marching Through Arlington to Grave Site

9a. Arrival of Casket at Grave Site

9b. Arrival of Casket at Grave Site (close up)

10. C-17 Globemaster Flyover by the 4 th Airlift Squadron

11. Graveside service at Arlington

12. 21-Gun Salute at Arlington

13. Bugler Plays Taps for the 7 service men

14. Flag from the Casket with the Group Remains is Folded

15. Mark Fagan Receives Flag

16. Presentation by the 4 th Airlift Squadron to the Families

17. Military Personnel Marching in the Group Burial Ceremony

18. Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Arlington

Follow the links below to see the web sites of news stories and videos about the finding and burial of these 7 men.

1. National Public Radio (July 14, 2010)

Channel 33/40 in Birmingham, Alabama (July 18, 2010 )

3. Channel 24 in Jacksonville, Anniston, and Gadsden, Alabama (July 20, 2010)

4. The Air Force Times (July 14, 2010)

5. The Anniston (Alabama) Star (July 4, 2010)

6. The Piedmont (Alabama) Journal (The Mission) (July 7, 2010)

7. The Piedmont (Alabama) Journal (The Burial) (July 21, 2010)

8. Jacksonville State University web site (July 5, 2010)

9. The Knoxville Tennessee News Sentinel (July 4, 2010)

10. The Gadsden (Alabama) Times (July 22, 2010)

11. Fredericksburg (Virginia) News (July 16, 2010)

12. Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) Inquirer (June 21, 2010)

13. The Intelligencer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) (August 2, 2010)

14. WTAJ Television (Central Pennsylvania) (July 15, 2010)

15. Steeljaw Scribe.com (Military History) (July 17, 2010)

16. The Honolulu Advertiser (March 26, 2004)

17. Department of Defense News

18. WJAC Television (Johnstown, Pennsylvania) (July 14, 2010)

19. The Chicago Sun Times (July 15, 2010)

20. The Air Force Times (July 24, 2010)

21. The Calhoun County (Alabama) Community Press (August 2010)

22. The Anniston Star (article by Mark Fagan) (September 26, 2010)

23. The Northern Neck (Virginia) Electric Cooperative Newsletter (November-December, 2010)

24. The Mobile (Alabama) Press Register (November 7, 2010)

25. The Tuscaloosa (Alabama) News (November 11, 2010)

26. The Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser (November 11, 2010)

27. GEM of the Hills (The Jacksonville State University Alumni Magazine) (Spring 2011)

28. Outreach; University of Alabama; School of Social Work Alumni Magazine (Spring 2011)

29. "When Soldiers Don't Come Home," Andrew Packet, Northern Neck Electric, Cooperative Living, May 2011

30. 4Th AS Pays Tribute to Lost Aircrew, Tyler Hemstreet, Northwest Military.com, June 3, 2011

31. Stars and Stripes (for US Armed Forces); originated from Yangon, Myanmar but circulated around the world in editions for US, Europe, Middle East, Far East; "Search for Missing Revived by Warming Relations," May 20, 2013

PICTURES (some pictures have links to a larger version, click on those with hand hovering)
The pictures below were taken by Rachel Fagan, Chris Betzler, and Mark Fagan.

Fred Fagan Fred Fagan Fred Fagan

Fred Fagan Fred Fagan Fred Fagan

Fred Fagan Fred Fagan Fred Fagan

Fred Fagan Fred Fagan Fred Fagan

Fred Fagan Fred Fagan Fred Fagan

Fred Fagan Fred Fagan Fred Fagan

Fred Fagan Fred Fagan Fred Fagan

Fred Fagan Fred Fagan Fred Fagan

Fred Fagan Fred Fagan Fred Fagan

Fred Fagan Fred Fagan Fred Fagan

Fred Fagan Fred Fagan Fred Fagan

The pictures below were taken by the DOD and the AP

Fred Fagan Fred Fagan
Fred Fagan Fred Fagan
Fred Fagan Fred Fagan AP AP
McChord AFB in Tacoma, Washington
Commemoration Ceremony for the Olbinski Crew
May 23, 2011 (67 th Anniversary of the flight)

Lieutenant Colonel Rodney D. Lewis, Commander of the 4 th Airlift Squadron, authorized a ceremony to honor the members of the Olbinski Crew. Captain Leroy Cohen of the 4 th Airlift Squadron was in charge of planning and administering the event. Those family members in attendance were: SSgt. (Ret.) Robert and Carole Frantz; Dr. Mark Fagan; Dr. Gini and Fred Doolittle; Mrs. Donna and Wes Peterson; Ms. Christine King and Ms. Jane Harcum. Also in attendance was Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Aycock, Secretary to the General Staff, 3 rd Battle Command Training Brigade, 75 th Battle Command Training Division. The sequence of events is found below.

0830-Guests arrive at 4 th Airlift Squadron Headquarters
0900-Commander's Welcome Brief ( click here for slide show)
0930-Squadron Tour
1015-Travel to Heritage Hill
Fred Fagan
Overview of Heritage Hill

1030-Heritage Hill Tour (C-47 Static Tour)
Fred Fagan
C-47 at Heritage Hill

1110-Brick Dedication Ceremony at Heritage Hill; Smgt. Schnug, Narrator
1115-Posting of the Colors/National Anthem
1120-Invocation by Chaplain LoPresto
1125-Remarks by Commander Lewis
1135-Reading of Presidential Citation for the Unit (see below); Issued on September 11, 1944

Fred Fagan

1145-Travel to Memorial Grove
1200-Brick Laying Ceremony
1230-Lunch at Co-Located Club for guests and Squadron Leaders
1400-C-17 Static Tour
Fred Fagan
C-17 Globemaster III

1500-Wrap-up at Squadron

4 th Troop Carrier Squadron Flying C-47s 4 th Airlift Squadron Flying C-17s
Crew 4 (P, CP, Nav, Radio) 3 (P, CP, LM)
Capacity 28 Troops 102 Troops
Payload 6,000 lbs 170,900 lbs
Cruise Speed160 mph 515 mph at 28,000 ft.
Range 1,600 miles 2,400 nm
Service Ceiling 26,000 ft. 45,000 ft.

C-47 Skytrain
The origin of the C-47 is closely and directly connected with the appearance of the Douglas DC-3 airliner, which is considered by some the most successful civil aircraft The DC-3 made its first flight on December 17, 1935, and first went into service with American Airways in June, 1936.

The military had acquired a few of the earlier plane, the DC-2, and proceeded to order the new plane the DC-3, as well, in a reinforced and higher-powered version adapted to military service, what was to become the C-47. The first orders were placed in 1940, and the first production models were delivered to units the following year.

The C-47 Skytrain, nicknamed the "Gooney Bird," first entered service in 1941 and became the backbone of the U.S. Army Air Forces airlift capability during World War II. In the war C-47�s helped the 62d and it�s squadrons make their mark on the front lines of North Africa and Europe theaters, transporting ammunition, food, clothing, medical supplies evacuated wounded personnel and flew missions behind enemy lines in Italy and the Balkans to haul guns and missions dropping propaganda leaflets. In conducting it main mission, the delivery of troops, the 62d also utilized the CG-4 Hadrian Gliders. At the conclusion of the war, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the Skytrain one of the four weapons, along with the bazooka, jeep and atomic bomb, that most helped to win World War II.

After the war, airlines converted many C-47s for commercial use while other Skytrains remained in active service. The U.S. Air Force used the C-47 during the Berlin Airlift and in the Korean War, C-47s hauled cargo, dropped paratroopers and evacuated wounded personnel.

Nearly 20 years later, the venerable aircraft participated in the Vietnam War where it served in transport, reconnaissance and psychological warfare mission roles. But, the aircraft gained its notoriety in Southeast Asia as the AC-47 gunship, better known as "Puff, the Magic Dragon," with its side-firing 7.62-mm mini-guns.

The Douglas Aircraft Corporation produced more than 10,000 Skytrains in 25 different variants. The models included an AC-47 gunship, HC-47 rescue aircraft, RC-47 reconnaissance plane and a TC-47 for training. The Air Force retired its last C-47 in June 1975, but many of the durable and reliable "Gooneys" continued to fly.

C-47 Skytrain

TYPE: Cargo and troop transport, and glider tug
POWER: Two Pratt & Whitney R-1830s with 1,200 hp. ea.
SPEED: Maximum: 232 mph, Cruising: 175 mph.
RANGE: 1,513 miles
WEIGHTS: Empty: 101,340 lbs, Combat: 123,100, Max T.O. / Landing: 185,000 lbs
MAXIMUM PAYLOAD: 10,000 lbs, or 28 troops, or 18 stretchers
DIMENSIONS: Span: 95 ft. 0 in. Length: 64 ft. 5 in. Height: 16 ft. 11 in
CREW: Pilot, Co-pilot, Radio operator, with provisions for additional crew members
PRODUCTION TOTALS: 9,348 ( all models AAF/USAF)
UNIT COST: $138,000
McCHORD BASED UNITS: Various units -WWII - 62d TCG (1942- 1945) - 4th TCS, 7th TCS,8thTCS, 51st TCS

C-17 Globemaster III ( click here for video)

The C-17 Globemaster III is the newest, most flexible cargo aircraft to enter the airlift force. The C-17 is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or directly to forward bases in the deployment area. The aircraft can perform tactical airlift and airdrop missions and can also transport litters and ambulatory patients during aeromedical evacuations when required. The inherent flexibility and performance of the C-17 force improve the ability of the total airlift system to fulfill the worldwide air mobility requirements of the United States.

The ultimate measure of airlift effectiveness is the ability to rapidly project and sustain an effective combat force close to a potential battle area. Threats to U.S. interests have changed in recent years, and the size and weight of U.S.-mechanized firepower and equipment have grown in response to improved capabilities of potential adversaries. This trend has significantly increased air mobility requirements, particularly in the area of large or heavy outsize cargo. As a result, newer and more flexible airlift aircraft are needed to meet potential armed contingencies, peacekeeping or humanitarian missions worldwide. The C-17 is capable of meeting today's demanding airlift missions.

Reliability and maintainability are two outstanding benefits of the C-17 system. Current operational requirements impose demanding reliability and maintainability. These requirements include an aircraft mission completion success probability rate of 92 percent, only 20 aircraft maintenance man-hours per flying hour, and full and partial mission availability rates of 74.7 and 82.5 percent, respectively. The Boeing warranty assures these figures will be met.

The C-17 measures 174 feet long (53 meters) with a wingspan of 169 feet, 10 inches (51.75 meters). The aircraft is powered by four, fully reversible, Federal Aviation Administration-certified F117-PW-100 engines (the military designation for the commercial Pratt & Whitney PW2040), currently used on the Boeing 757. Each engine is rated at 40,440 pounds of thrust. The thrust reversers direct the flow of air upward and forward to avoid ingestion of dust and debris. Maximum use has been made of off-the-shelf and commercial equipment, including Air Force-standardized avionics.

The aircraft is operated by a crew of three (pilot, copilot and loadmaster), reducing manpower requirements, risk exposure and long-term operating costs. Cargo is loaded onto the C-17 through a large aft door that accommodates military vehicles and palletized cargo. The C-17 can carry virtually all of the Army's air-transportable equipment.

Maximum payload capacity of the C-17 is 170,900 pounds (77,519 kilograms), and its maximum gross takeoff weight is 585,000 pounds (265,352 kilograms). With a payload of 169,000 pounds (76,657 kilograms) and an initial cruise altitude of 28,000 feet (8,534 meters), the C-17 has an unrefueled range of approximately 2,400 nautical miles. Its cruise speed is approximately 450 knots (.76 Mach). The C-17 is designed to airdrop 102 paratroopers and equipment.

The design of the aircraft allows it to operate through small, austere airfields. The C-17 can take off and land on runways as short as 3,500 feet (1,064 meters) and only 90 feet wide (27.4 meters). Even on such narrow runways, the C-17 can turn around using a three-point star turn and its backing capability.

The C-17 made its maiden flight on Sept. 15, 1991, and the first production model was delivered to Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., June 14, 1993. The first squadron of C-17s, the 17th Airlift Squadron, was declared operationally ready Jan. 17, 1995. The Air Force originally programmed to buy a total of 120 C-17s, with the last one being delivered in November 2004. Current budget plans involve purchasing 205 aircraft.

The original 120 C-17s were based at Charleston AFB; McChord AFB, Wash., (first aircraft arrived in July 1999); Altus AFB, Okla.; and at an Air National Guard unit in Jackson, Miss. In August 2005, March Air Reserve Base, Calif., began basing the first of eight aircraft. In February 2006, Hickam AFB, Hawaii, received its first C-17.

The C-17 is operated by the Air Mobility Command at the 60th Airlift Wing and the 349th Air Mobility Wing (Associate Reserve) at Travis AFB, Calif.; 436th AW and 512th AW (Associate Reserve) at Dover AFB, Del.; 62nd AW and 446th AW (Associate Reserve) at McChord AFB, Wash.; 437th Airlift Wing and 315th AW (Associate Reserve) at Charleston AFB, S.C.; the 305th AMW, McGuire AFB, N.J.; and the 172nd AW, Mississippi ANG. Additionally, Air Force Materiel Command operates two C-17s at Edwards AFB, Calif., and Pacific Air Forces operates eight aircraft each at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska and Hickam AFB, Hawaii (Associate Guard). The Air Force Reserve Command operates eight aircraft at March Air Reserve Base, Calif; and Air Education and Training Command has 12 aircraft at Altus AFB, Okla.

General Characteristics
Primary Function: Cargo and troop transport
Prime Contractor: Boeing Company
Power Plant: Four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines
Thrust: 40,440 pounds, each engine
Wingspan: 169 feet 10 inches (to winglet tips) (51.75 meters)
Length: 174 feet (53 meters)
Height: 55 feet 1 inch (16.79 meters)
Cargo Compartment: length, 88 feet (26.82 meters); width, 18 feet (5.48 meters); height, 12 feet 4 inches (3.76 meters)
Speed: 450 knots at 28,000 feet (8,534 meters) (Mach .76)
Service Ceiling: 45,000 feet at cruising speed (13,716 meters)
Range: Global with in-flight refueling
Crew: Three (two pilots and one loadmaster)
Aeromedical Evacuation Crew: A basic crew of five (two flight nurses and three medical technicians) is added for aeromedical evacuation missions. Medical crew may be altered as required by the needs of patients
Maximum Peacetime Takeoff Weight: 585,000 pounds (265,352 kilograms)
Load: 102 troops/paratroops; 36 litter and 54 ambulatory patients and attendants; 170,900 pounds (77,519 kilograms) of cargo (18 pallet positions)
Unit Cost: Unit Cost: $202.3 million (fiscal 1998 constant dollars)
Date Deployed: June 1993
Inventory: Active duty, 158; Air National Guard, 8; Air Force Reserve, 8

Videos of McChord Ceremony and Airfield *(click on link below to view video)
1. C-47 and Pre-Ceremony at Heritage Hill

2. Lt. Col. Rodney Lewis Speaking at Heritage Hill Ceremony

3. Memorial Brick Laying Ceremony at Memorial Grove

4. C-17 Takoff at McChord AFB

5. C-17 Landing with Narration by Lt. Col. Lewis

Pictures of McChord Ceremony and Airfield *(click on the picture for a large version of that picture)

Fred Fagan
Guests Gathering
Fred Fagan
Fred Fagan
Fred Fagan
Guests and Squadron
Fred Fagan
Guests and Squadron
Fred Fagan
Fagan and Frantz
Fred Fagan
Lt. Col. Lewis at Briefing
Fred Fagan
Fred Fagan
Lt. Col. Lewis at Ceremony
Fred Fagan
Fagan and Lt. Col. Aycock
Fred Fagan
Heritage Hill Ceremony
Fred Fagan
Commemorative Bricks
Fred Fagan
Brick for Fred Fagan
Fred Fagan
Heritage Hill Ceremony
Fred Fagan
Plaque about C-47
Fred Fagan
C-47 Skytrain
Fred Fagan
Fred Fagan
Fred Fagan
Inside C-47
Fred Fagan
Navigation Inside C-47
Fred Fagan
Radio Inside C-47
Fred Fagan
Fagan and C-47
Fred Fagan
Memorial Grove
Fred Fagan
Fagan laying Brick for Fred
Fred Fagan
Fred Fagan
Frantz Speaking at Luncheon
Fred Fagan
Fred Fagan
Inside C-17
Fred Fagan
Inside C-17
Fred Fagan
Inside C-17
Fred Fagan
Fagan in C-17 Cockpit
Fred Fagan
Fagan and Lt. Col. Lewis
Fred Fagan
Lt. Col. Lewis and Fagan

May 23, 2012 at Arlington National Cemetery where group headstone was dedicated.

The grave is Section 60, Grave 9558 at Arlington National Cemetery.  Below are some pictures of the Memorial Service on May 23, 2012 at Arlington.


Group Headstone   Fagan

Survivors   Obama Certificate

70th Anniversary Ceremony of the flight going down in Burma


Invitation to 70th Anniversary Ceremony


Fred Fagan

Fred Fagan

Videos of Ceremony (Click on Title Below for Video)

1. Main Ceremony 

2. Chaplain's Remarks  

Pictures at Ceremony

70th Anniversary Ceremony

Brig. Gen. Harris, Frantz, Doolittle, Maj. Gallagher, Fagan, Cpt. Scott

Headstone and Wreath

70th Anniversary Memorial Wreath

Mark Fagan and Chaplain Scott

Mark Fagan and Chaplain Scott

Fred Fagan

Pam Fagan and Chaplain Scott