Last Known Activity|
Service Number: O-010242
Birth and Early Life:
Charles McAllister was born December 4, 1917, in Olean, New York. His family was compelled to move to Hornell in 1923 following a strike at the Pennsylvania Railroad Car shops that put Patrick, the head of the family, out of work. Fortunately, the Eire Railroad had a position in their roundhouse. Patrick eventually became foreman of the shop, and in 1940 was joined by his son Charles, who had completed three years of college before returning to Hornell to work as a laborer.
Charles McAllister, around 1936.
McAllister may have planned to eventually complete his education ‚?? his older sisters, both graduates, taught high-school English and his younger brother Robert was also enrolled ‚?? but in the summer of 1940, he left Hornell to travel to Buffalo, New York, where he enlisted in the United States Navy.
Enlistment and Boot Camp:
McAllister joined the Navy on June 25, 1940. He was initially interested in medicine and spent his first year in the service learning the trade of a pharmacist, attaining the rate of Hospital Apprentice 1st Class at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital before deciding to apply for flight school at NRAB Squantum, Massachusetts. McAllister was an unusual case; the shift from corpsman to aviator was extremely rare, and many of his classmates had been accepted either through college programs or through the Navy‚??s V-5 program designed for aviation cadets. However, he completed his elimination trials and on August 28, 1941, was sent to Jacksonville, Florida as a student pilot.
After completing his training as a dive-bomber pilot and accepting a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, McAllister was posted to VMSB-234 in San Diego. However, in mid-July, he was transferred to VMSB-232, the ‚??Red Devils,‚?? who were then in the final phases of training before being deployed to the South Pacific. In addition to his duties as a pilot, McAllister served as the squadron‚??s propeller officer, and assistant engineering officer. Lieutenant McAllister made his first flight into dangerous territory on August 20, 1942, when he piloted a Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless from the deck of the¬†USS Long Island¬† to Henderson Field, Guadalcanal. He was slated to fly his first combat patrol the following day, but got off to an unlucky start.
MAG-23 War Diary, August 21 1942
Although McAllister and his gunner were uninjured, it was hardly an auspicious start to lose the squadron‚??s first bomber on Guadalcanal. Four days later, McAllister got his first taste of serious combat as part of a flight that attacked a sizable Japanese fleet. Although his bomb barely missed the target, McAllister‚??s rear gunner, PFC Lewis Macias, shot down an enemy floatplane. McAllister participated in regular patrols and searches for the rest of August and the beginning of September, but most were uneventful. On September 1, he gained a new gunner ‚?? Corporal William Proffitt of Dallas, Texas.
Date Of Loss:
Charles McAllister and Bill Proffitt were flying¬†SBD-3 #03342 on September 6, 1942. They departed Henderson Field at 1050, on a mission to bomb and strafe Japanese forces at Gizo Harbor. However, on the return flight, the formation ran into awful weather which quickly developed into a devastating storm. The Dauntless carrying McAllister and Proffitt disappeared in the driving rain, and was never seen again. Charles McAllister was declared dead on September 7, 1943. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of Captain.
Next Of Kin:
Wife, Mrs. Charles B. McAllister
(The McAllisters were married in San Diego on June 25, 1942, less than two months before Charles departed for Guadalcanal.)
Status Of Remains:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.