STARLING, JOHN POAGE, Second Lieutenant, # 0-672701, USAAF


He was born on 17 October 1922 in Hanford, Kings Co., California, to Neville Earl Starling (1890-1943) (MO) and Rachel Marie Ann (Poage) Starling (1893-1994) (MO) (married 27 October 1912, Jackson Co., MO). Siblings were Nevillene Marie (Starling) Parker (1915-    ), William Wesley Starling (1917-1989), Betty Marie (Starling)  (1919-2016), Barbara Ann Starling (1922-    ) and Dr. Kenneth Earl Starling (1935-    ). Living with them in 1920 was a paternal uncle, Ray Smiley Starling (1893-1953).


After enlisting in the USAAF, he completed flight instruction through advanced schools and was multi-engine rated. He earned his commission and pilot wings and was sent overseas through India to China. On 11 February 1944 a Curtiss C-46A Commando, # 41-24634, assigned to 1st Transport Group, 3rd Transport Squadron (Station 6), departed the airfield at Chabau, India, at 1027 Zulu for Kunming, China, on a cargo mission (Wolmite & 4 mail pouches) on its return flight to Chabau, India, flying through the Himalayan mountain range (the Hump). It crashed enroute. It was about 2 hours out of Kunming, China, in the vicinity of Pimau, Burma, when it was caught in a downdraft (windshear) between mountain ridges, it rapidly lost altitude from 23,000’ to the height of the mountains it was flying through (13,000’). Airspeed was between 105-115 MPH. 2ndLt Starling was the co-pilot. The aircraft functioned properly but, the pilot was unable to climb and fearing a crash, the crew was ordered to throw out the cargo and bail out. When 2ndLt Starling reached the open cargo door, he found MSgt Houghton and Pvt Wyatt hesitating to jump. Lt Starling ordered the men to jump and set an example by jumping. The altitude was about 12,000’. Six days later, he reached British Intelligence quarters and found that Wyatt received medical aid and was being brought there. Five days later they were reunited at a cave. A Japanese 5 man search party were within 50’ of the cave.


Pvt Wyatt reported that he followed Lt Starling out of the C-46. He was not sure but instantly after jumping, the C-46 crashed into a mountain and exploded. Wyatt was so near that his left leg was burned. Both Starling and Wyatt made it to Fort Hertz. Natives at the crash site there were scattered portions of human remains of two bodies which indicated the pilot and MSgt Houghton were in the C-46 when it crashed. They were taken to U.S. Navy doctor, Commander Luce. He survived and was honorably separated on 27 September 1953. He died on 25 August 2006 and is interred in the Seaside Memorial Park, Corpus Christi, Nueces Co., Texas.


His brother, William W. Starling, born 7 January 1917, served in the U.S. Army from 2 February 1943 to 27 August 1943. He died 30 January 1989.

Barbara A. Starling

Dr. Kenneth E. Starling