My father received the following request from Kevin Reeder looking for any information regarding his Uncle Henry Lee Gurley. Henry was a pilot and 2nd lieutenant in the 418th NFS. We have received one response to Kevin’s request (also posted below), but would welcome any other information that other’s might have.
“This coming Monday, August 4th, 1945 will mark the anniversary of the date my mother’s brother, Henry Lee Gurley (Pilot & 2nd Lieutenant – 418th Night Fighter Squadraon – USAAC) took off from Kadena airstrip B at 9:15pm (Okinawa time) on his mission to Kanoya airdrome, Kyushu Japan.
Stanley E Logan (pilot and 2nd Lieutenant 418th Night Fighter Squadron – USAAC) was on the exact same mission on the night of August 5, 1945. We are grateful that he return safely.
This (past) Monday morning at 7:15am CDT will coincide with the time that he took off in Okinawa. Right now, just after midnight on August 4th, 2014 in Okinawa.
I do pray that someday we will find him and his other two crew members and return them home.
Henry Lee took off in a P61B-15 NO, plane number 4239591. He has never been heard from since.”
As mentioned, Kevin receive the following response from Stanley Logan:
“We have conversed a number of times in the past about the loss of your uncle, Henry Lee Gurley on this day (night) 69 years ago in World War II. Our 418th Squadron History reports his mission being on August 5, but you have researched the dates involved, and sometimes there is confusion at the time with missions straddling midnight as to whether to list the date of takeoff or date of landing. It was only a few nights later that we lost another crew on August 10 near Kyushu target (Lt. Raymond Cozza and his RO, Robert Odell), both losses being tragic so close to the end of the war on August 14 (again, confusion in recorded dates 14 or 15 due to the International Date Line). Once again, you and your family have our sincere condolences.
The first mission over Japan (also Kanoya Airdrome, Kyushu) for my RO, George Kamajian and me as, as you mention, the night of August 5, 1945. Take-off at 2230 and landing back in Okinawa at 0400. Our second Japan mission was Aug. 8 on the west coast of Kyushu and the third was also Kanoya. On Aug. 11 on one or both Kanoya missions we encountered about a dozen searchlights with two sweeps thru the cockpit on one occasion, illuminating momentarily like daylight, but fortunately, we were not spotted. On Aug. 14, I was about to start the engines for our fourth Japan mission, to a different target across Kagoshima Bay from Kanoya, when the war was ended and mission canceled!
The reason for Henry Lee’s loss, as you know, has not been answered and you have suggested extreme weather in the vicinity around that time, but other possibilities I put on the table concerning those few hundred miles of open ocean en route are: heavy antiaircraft defense in Kanoya, an aircraft failure, a mistake in fuel management (internal tank and two external drop tanks to balance out), navigation problem, including jet stream diversion (on one of our missions we were deflected to about 50 miles east of Okinawa, heading south – radio direction finding call was resorted to for our correction).
We will be thinking of you and yours tomorrow.”
If you have any additional information about Henry Lee Gurley – please contact us thru this website.