LAWLER, HORACE ALLAN, First Lieutenant, # 0-24711, USAAF
On 19 June 1944, a P-40N11, Curtiss Aircraft Warhawk, # 42-105946, assigned to 10th Air Force, 8th Reconnaisance Group, 20th Tactical Reconnaisance Squadron, at an airfield at Kissel Bari, Assam Pradesh, India, provided escort for a B-25 Mitchell on a photo reconnaissance mission in rough weather (monsoon season). It was last sighted in the vicinity of 26º 27’ North 96º 15’ East at about 1055 hours India Standard Time. The fighter became separated from the B-25 while passing through clouds at 11,500 feet altitude. It was last seen by Capt. Angus Ferguson Lytch, Jr., # 0-659386.
Capt. Lytch reported that 1stLt Lawler was leader of a two-ship escort for the B-25 phto mission in the Mogaung Valley, Burma. The flight departed the Dinjan Airfield at 1020 IST and crossed a pass (into the Hukong Valley) at 11,000 feet altitude. Upon entry, the cloud bottom was at about 10,000 feet. A large thunderstorm blocked the valley, centered around Warazup, so the escorted flight flew a heading of 270º, intending to go around the thunderstorm, to the west, which appeared open. Skirting the northern face of the storm, they encountered spotty rain from high stratus clouds, which girdled the thunderstorm. While in rain, they entered a small cloud, and Baker, co-pilot of the B-25, looked out and saw 1stLt Lawler at the right wing (1055 IST), drifting away. They cleared the cloud within a minte and climbed to 12,000 feet and circled. The Chindwin River was visible below so they estimated their position at about 20 miles SW of Shimbruyang. There was no response on the radio from 1stLt Lawler. They contacted KC-1 (local military radio station) and asked they contact 1stLt Lawler and provide him with a heading. They called for 20-30 minutes with no response. After circing for about 10 minutes, the B-25 and one P-40 returned to Dinjan Airfields.
Search: Capt. Lytch reported that with 1stLt Baker, co-pilot, they flew the B-25 on 19 June 1944, at 1445 hours IST and searched the Hukong Valley from Mainkwan North and the Chindwin (River) valley from the northern foothills to about 10 miles south of the Taro airstrip. Clouds topping the hills prevented a further search. At about 1715 hours IST, part of a parachute was seen spread on the ground beside a stream at the above cited coordinates. After flying low over the location several times, no smoke or other sign of life was seen. He thought the parachute may have been there fore some time. He searched the vicinity again on 20 June 1944 in a P-40, with no results.
Horace A. Lawler was born on 1 June 1919 in Paris, Illinois, to Horace Joseph “Curley” Lawler (1892-1962) (IL) and Bess A. (Mopps) Lawler (1891-1976) (IN). A brother was Jack Dudley Lawler (1917-1945). He graduated from the University of Illinois with an M.A. He earned a B.S. from the U.S. Military Academy in 1942. On 5 June 1917, his father was a machine operator for Piper & Sons, Paris, IL. In 1926 the family resided at 517 Union St., Paris, IL. In 1930 his father was a harness maker (stock); in 1940 a retail merchant (partner of Piper Hardware & Harness Co., Paris, IL. A paternal uncle in 1940 – Ella Lawler, Sheriff, Paris, IL.
He entered the U.S. Army as an officer cadet on 1 July 1938 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, Field Artillery, on 29 May 1942. He was selected for the USAAF on 10 February 1943 and was trained as a fighter pilot.