42-67286 P38 P-38J-5-LO
On 2 July 1944, a P-38J-5-LO, # 42-67286, assigned to 10th Air Force, 311th Fighter Group, 459th Fighter Squadron, departed the airfield at Chittagong, India, on a bombing mission of the railroad at Mawla, Burma. It was last sighted at about 1045 hours near 92º 10’ North, 22º 10’ East. The pilot was 2ndLt Rosecoe E. Fertig, # 0-753638. It was last seen by 1stLt James G. Harris, 0-748976, 2ndLt Paul A. Jarvis, 0-753671, and 2ndLt James L. King, 0-686955.
1stLt Harris reported. He led the 3rd flight in a 12 aircraft formation which bombed the railway running northeast from Alon, Burma. His flight dropped its bombs after the other two flights. They were immediately north of a small town. He turned left after dropping bombs and flew behind the other flights. Lt. King called and said Lt. Fertig had an engine on fire. Lt. Harris circled and saw that the engine was still burning and the propeller was feathered. His transmitter was out. The engine fire appeared to die with a thin trail of smoke. In began burning again and Lt. Fertig turned towards the Chindwin River area. The fire grew and the P-38 turned on a wing and he thought he saw something leave the aircraft with a parachute trailing. He passed over a cloud. He circled the spot a few times but could not see a parachute on the ground. He thought the parachute he saw opened before Lt. Fertig would have landed.
Lt Jarvis reported: He saw Lt. Fertig’s engine burning and Lt. Fertig dove and the flames almost subsided. Lt. Fertig turned north for a dry river bed. The engine burst into flames again then exploded. The P-38 dove, enveloped in flames. Somethig went to the left of the plane but he could not see what. He flew over a cloud. Afterwards, he saw only the crashed burning plane.
Lt. King reported: Lt. Fertig was in front of him. Lt. Fertig made a strafing run on a village. He pulled up and joined formation. He saw black smoke and flames coming from Lt. Fertig’s right engine. He called Lt. Harris and reported. Lt. Fertig feathered the engine. Capt. Campbell called Lt. Fertig and told him to turn easterly toward a dry river bed. Lt. Ferttig said his compass was inoperative. Lt King told him to turn right. Lt. Fertig said the engine was still on fire. Capt. Campbell told him to belly land in the dry river bed. Someone called out, “Zeroes.” Lt. King turned to join the flight. H saw the fire flare up on Lt. Fertig’s right engine. He called and told Lt. Fertig to bail out. There was no reply. He saw the P-38 explode in mid-air.
FERTIG, ROSCOE EDWARD, Second Lieutenant, # 0-753638, USAAF
Roscoe E. Fertig was born on 19 October 1919 in Los Angeles, California, to Isaac Fertig (1879-1966) and Bertha (Ehret) Fertig (1886-1973). Siblings included Arminta I. “Meta” (Fertig) Allen (1907-1967), Geraldine (Fertig) Snider (1908-2000), Charles Frederick Fertig (1910-1990), and Jewell (Fertig) Gillett (1912-1997). He was posthumously registered as a missing Jewish serviceman.
He enlisted in the USAAF on 7 January 1942 in Los Angeles, California. He completed flight instruction and advance flight school for the P-38 fighter. He earned his commission and pilot wings. He was sent overseas to 10th Air Force in India. On 2 July 1944, a P-38J-5-LO, # 42-67286, assigned to 10th Air Force, 311th Fighter Group, 459th Fighter Squadron, departed the airfield at Chittagong, Burma, on a bombing mission of the railroad at Mawla, Burma.