44th FS commander accompanies predecessor on final journey
(Then U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. Peyton S. Mathis, Jr.) U.S. Army Air Forces Maj. Payton S. Mathis, Jr., was determined killed in action June 5, 1944, after engine failure on his P-38 Lightning just before landing at Kukum Air Field on Guadalcanal Island rolled the aircraft and led it to crash into a swamp nearby. Though rescue teams attempted immediate recovery of the former 44th Fighter Squadron commander, seven feet of water concealed the cockpit and prevented access. Due to the crash location, his body remained unrecovered for 70 years until JPAC's Central Identification Laboratory officially identified his remains Oct. 16, 2014.

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