43-15783         C47

 

On 22 June 1944, a C-47A, # 43-15783, assigned to 10th Air Force, Air Transport Command, 3rd Combat Cargo Group, 11th Combat Cargo Squadron, departed an airfield in India on a supply drop mission and was last located at 25º 21’ North & 90º 0’ 30” East. The C-47A crashed but some crewmen survived. The crew were:

 

                                             Pilot                             1stLt Ralph E. Knudtsen                      0-746373

                                             Co-Pilot                       2ndLt Glen G. Wiltbank                       0-680135

                                             Radio Operator            Cpl Ray O. McNeill                             18120972

                                             Cargo Dropper             Tech5thGrade John D. Emmeluth       32433520

                                             “                                   “ James F. Shea                                    31152968

                                             “                                   “ Eli N. Fredette                                  31156476

 

1stLt Knudtsen, 2ndLt Wiltbank and Cpl. Ray O. McNeill survived the crash and were rescued by American forces. 2ndLt Wiltbank later died in a hospital from his wounds. His remains were buried in the airfield cemetery at Kalaikunda, India (Plot 4, Row 1, Grave 879). A search and rescue team investigated the crash. The C-47A was identified by the serial number on its rudder. The remains of the other three servicemen (T5s Emmeluth, Shea, and Fredette) were found at the crash site. The remains of all three were buried in the airfield cemetery at Barrackpore, India (X-393 at 3-T-14, X-394 at 3-T-34, and X-395 at 3-U-28). Dental charts were made for future identifications.

KNUDTSEN, RALPH EMIL, First Lieutenant, # 0-746373, USAAF

 

Ralph E. Knudtsen was born on 7 January 1923 in California to Christian “Chris” Conrad Knudtsen (1894-1978) and Emma H. (Lau) Knudtsen (1897-1965) (both born in Germany). Siblings included William Christian Knudtsen (1921-2009) and Gladys Marion (Knudtsen) Frye (1926-1982). His father was a stockman at a stock yard. Before enlisting, hompleted one year of college. He first married Hazelle M. Knudtsen. He married Nancy C. O’Connor on 8 October 1978 in Alameda Co., CA.

 

He enlisted in the USAAF (Enlisted # 19069454) in Sacramento, California, while resident in Sonoma Co., California, on 10 April 1942. He completed flight instruction, earned his commission and wings, and was multi-engine rated. He was sent overseas to India. On 22 June 1944, a C-47A, # 43-15783, assigned to 10th Air Force, Air Transport Command, 3rd Combat Cargo Group, 11th Combat Cargo Squadron, departed an airfield in India on a supply drop mission and was last at 25º 21’ North & 90º 0’ 30” East, in Burma. The C-47A crashed but some crewmen survived. 1stLt Knudtsen, 2ndLt Wiltbank and Cpl. Ray O. McNeill survived the crash and were rescued by Australian Army forces. 2ndLt Wiltbank later died in a hospital from his wounds. His remains were buried in the airfield cemetery at Kalaikunda, India (Plot 4, Row 1, Grave 879). A search and rescue team investigated the crash. The C-47A was identified by the serial number on its rudder. The remains of the other three servicemen (T5s Emmeluth, Shea, and Fredette) were found at the crash site. He was separated from the USAAF 17 October 1945. He died 29 March 1999 and is buried in the Liberty Cemetery, Petaluma, Sonoma Co., CA.