A Moment at Port Moresby, 1942

pappy-in-cockpitIn the summer of ’42, Pappy Gunn flew up to Port Moresby in one of the light attack bombers he’d modified. While there, he made several bombing and strafing runs against Japanese troops advancing on Moresby through the Owen Stanley Mountain Range’s treacherous Kokoda Trail. In one of those attacks, he was wounded, and his pet lizard Sam was killed by anti-aircraft shrapnel.
Back at Moresby, Pappy endured several Japanese bombing raids. During one of those attacks, the Japanese planes destroyed Pappy’s living quarters–just a tent with a dirt floor– and blast to pieces several of the 3rd Attack Group’s precious B-25 Mitchell bombers.3rd Attack Group Wrecked B-25s at Port Moresby New Guinea 041243 I-1

The loss of those planes was critical, but Pappy suffered an equally serious personal loss that day. Inside his tent was a satchel full of receipts. He’d been using his own money to hire Aussie contractors and machine shops to build the parts he needed to modify the 3rd Attack Group’s aircraft. He intended to get the U.S. government to reimburse him later once the chaotic command and logistical situation in Australia was straightened out.3rd Attack Group Wrecked B-25s at Port Moresby New Guinea 041243 II-1

No luck. The Japanese bombs destroyed more than ten thousand dollars worth of receipts. Pappy was never repaid. In today’s dollars, Pappy contributed at least $155,000 to the creation of the first strafer gunships.

He flew back to Australia dispirited, wounded, lizardless and out enough cash to buy a good sized house.

 

For more Pappy stories….

B&N:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/indestructible-john-r-bruning/1123153862?ean=9780316339407

 

Amazon:

 

 

Categories: World War II in the Pacific | Tags: | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “A Moment at Port Moresby, 1942

  1. I read about him before, though never this story. The man was a true wizard with everything mechanical.

    • He sure was. He could listen to an engine and know exactly what was wrong with it. Me, I can’t even make the microwave work. 🙂

      Thanks for writing!

      John

  2. Pierre Lagacé

    Amazing story.

    • Thank you Pierre. Pappy was a special kind of mechanical and engineering genius–plus he had a huge heart.

      My best to you!

      John B

      • Pierre LagacĂ©

        Thanks for sharing all this. He needs to be remembered.

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