COLGAN, ROBERT PHILIP, First Lieutenant, # 0-690370, USAAF


Robert P. Colgan was born on 31 May 1920 in Pennsylvania to Francis Xavier Colgan (1881-1940) and Edith Mary (Lawrence) Colgan (1888-1981). Siblings included Hugh Francis Colgan (1911-1996), Helen Elizabeth Colgan (1912-1996), Frances M. (Colgan) Kress (1913-2018), Edith Mary Colgan (1915-2003), Kathleen M. Colgan (1916-2007), Donald Joseph Colgan (1918-1945), Jean C. Colgan (1922-    ), Elizabeth M. (Colgan) Wibb nee Hahn (1923-2006), Louise M. Colgan (1926-    ), Mary R. (Colgan) Smith (1927-2015), Daniel J. Colgan (1930-    ), Carol A. Colgan (1933-    ), and Patrice Marie Colgan (1934-1935). Living with them in 1940 was a paternal aunt, Helen A. Colgan (1878-    ).


He registered for the WW II draft on 1 July 1941, resided at 355 North St., McSherrystown, Adams Co., PA, employed by the American Chain Co., and described himself as 5’7”, 160 lbs, with brown hair and hazel eyes. He was inducted 25 June 1942 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He completed instruction as a navigator through advanced schools on the B-24. He earned his commission and wings. He was sent overseas to India. On 22 October 1944, a flight of B-24Js, including # 44-40588, # 44-40992, and # 44-70414, assigned to 10th Air Force, 7th Bomb Group, 493rd Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Pandaveswar, India, on a bombing mission over Moulmein, Burma. The bombers were hit by anti-aircraft fire, collided, and crashed, exploding. Five minutes after bombing the target at about 1202 hours, the formation was attacked by eight to twelve enemy fighters. He saw Oscars. Lt. Blair was in the # 2 position on the wing of Lt. Young. Maj. Jack Bradford, 0-424404 (OK), was in the # 4 position behind Lt. Young. 1stLt. Bodmer was in the # 3 position and Lt. Hill was in the # 5 position. When the enemy fighters were sighted, the formation closed. On the 3rd or 4th pass by the enemy, Lt. Blair’s # 2 engine caught on fire. He pulled out slightly left and feathered the engine. The fire went out and Lt. Blair made a diving left turn into clouds. He was not seen afterwards. Five minutes later, Maj. Bradford appeared to be looking back to see what happened to the other bombers. He was flying a rough formation but none of his bomber’s movements were violent. His bomber descended slightly to the left. He pulled up just under Lt. Bodmer, who was flying to the front and left of him. As he pulled up, Lt. Bodmer climbed up and out. After Maj. Bradford moved back into position, Lt. Bodmer took his own position. Almost immediately, Maj. Bradford climbed under Lt. Bodmer, his left vertical stabilizer went into Lt. Bodmer’s bomb bay doors. It seemed the # 3 and # 4 propellars of Lt. Bodmer’s B-24 cut off the tail of Maj. Bradford’s B-24 at a point just behind the waist windows. Maj. Bradford’s B-24 climbed violently and fell into a spin. Lt. Bodmer’s B-24 lost a bomb bay door and fell off onto the right wing, did a half-turn-spin, then spiraled down. Both B-24s hit the water about 200 yards apart and exploded. No parachutes were seen. It was near Bilugynn Island, Bay of Martaban. He is remembered on the memorial wall of the missing in the Manila Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.


His brother, Donald J. Colgan, born 15 June 1918, served in the USAAF, 331st Bomb Group, 447th Bomb Squadron, bombardier-navigator, First Lieutenant, # 0-765618, in WW II from 25 November 1940 until he was killed in action in Italy 8 February 1945. He was buried in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery & Memorial in Nettuno, Italy (Block B, Row 7, Grave 30). He was awarded the Silver Star, the Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster.