The C-47 "Skytrain" or "Dakota" was built by Douglas Aircraft Co. Its first flight was 23 December 1941. Numerous variations have been built. The U.S. Navy designation was the "R4D." The USAAF then the USAF used the aircraft until 2008. Many are still flying today. It was vital for flying men and material to China over "the Hump." It was widely used by airlines and some still fly them today.

C-47B, Serial # 43-48308, has already been used for missions flying "the Hump" to supply bases in China. It and its crew were transferred to duty with the Headquarters 10th Air Force Graves Registration Service, Mortuary Affairs, office by Air Transport Command, (1) Order # 129, dated 10 May 1946, signed by 1stLt John R McDowell, USAAF, ATC. A second was issued: Order # 116, dated 14 May 1946, effective 15 May 1946, by order of USAAF Lt.Col. Boaz, signed by 1stLt John R McDowell. The aircrew and aircraft had previously been doing transportation duties. Its transfer came only 1 week before it crashed into the Bayof Bengal, never to be found.


The air crew operated out of 1304 AAF Base Unit, Barrackpore, India, and was on a Graves Registration mission to Rangoon (and other sites where Americans were buried). It department Rangoon, Burma, on 17 May 1946 to fly to Barrackpore, India, and it is believed a last radio contact when near Akyab, Burma,was at about 0530 hours Zulu on that date. Weather conditions were described in the MACR as "severe thunder storms and line squalls and heavy monsoon rain."


The crew was comprised of:


Pilot               1stLt Horace J Gabbart                        0-769790

Check Pilot    1stLt Melvin L Power                           0-933431

Radioman       PFC Eugene F Ryan                            17134187


It carried eight (8) passengers, including six team members of Graves Registration, an AAF Communications officer and a U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander. It departed Mingoladon Airport, Rangoon, Burma, at 0324 hours, 17 May, 1946. The distance its course followed was 640 miles and its estimated gross weight was 27,000 lbs.