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First Lieutenant Edward J. Czarnecki

First Lieutenant Edward J. Czarnecki

First Lieutenant Edward J. CzarneckiEdward John Czarnecki, born in 1922 in Wilmington, Delaware, joined the Army Air Forces for pilot training in early 1942, graduating on 30 October. On 12 March 1943 he was assigned to the 80th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group, based at Mareeba, Australia. On 1 July he was transferred as one of the initial pilots assigned to the newly-organized 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group. Equipped with the P-38 Lightning, the group moved to Port Moresby, New Guinea on 14 August 1943.

Four days later, as part of a 75 plane escort protecting Fifth Air Force medium and heavy bombers in route to Japanese held Wewak, Lieutenant Czarnecki scored his first victory, flaming two Zekes near Wewak. On 21 August another heavy engagement took place in the same area. Flying high cover, Czarnecki dove to the defense of B-25s being attacked by Japanese fighters and shot down a fixed-gear Nate.

By the end of August, Fifth Air Force had succeeded in neutralizing the Wewak airdromes. During September the Group supported MacArthur's invasion of Lae and Finschafen. Moving across the Owen Stanley Mountains to Dobodura, the 475th began attacks on Japanese shipping at Rabaul. The Japanese retaliated with an attack on the American Fleet at Oro Bay on the 15th. The 431st intercepted 40 Japanese fighters and Czarnecki knocked down a Zeke and received credit for another as a probable. He became an ace two days later when he downed two more Zekes near Buna Bay.

On 23 October, on a fighter sweep near Lakunai, Czarnecki was shot down in Simpson Harbor. He managed to wade ashore, however, evading Japanese patrols and returning to Brisbane, Australia, in a submarine four months later.

Edward Czarnecki died of stomach cancer in the Fort Howard, Maryland VA hospital on July 27, 1955.

Tally Record:
6 Confirmed
1 Probable 

Decorations:
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross
Purple Heart

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