Nov. 1, 1942, Papua New Guinea

Death Notice - Tulsa World (4/22/05, A14) - McAlester, OK
Age: 22, WWII Army Pilot; Funeral Services: Brumley-Mills Funeral Home.

Obituary - McAlester News Capital, Apr. 22, 2005
1st Lt. John Strother Hancock A memorial service with full military honors will be held for First Lieutenant John Strother Hancock at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, April 23, 2005 at Memory Gardens Cemetery. Rev. Clint Pope, Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Hartshorne will officiate. Family visitation will be Friday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Brumley-Mills Funeral Home, McAlester. John was born April 23, 1920 in Lehigh, Oklahoma to John Strother and Rhobena (Winn) Hancock. He died November 1, 1942 in Milau Bay, Papua New Guinea in a bombing raid. At a young age, John's parents died leaving him and his siblings to be raised by their aunt Lillian Larmour and grandmother Elizabeth Winn in Haileyville, Oklahoma. Growing up they lived in a two story house located on the old 270 Highway in Haileyville. The house still stands today. He was a member of First Baptist Church, Haileyville. He attended school at Haileyville and graduated in 1937. He went on to college and graduated in 1939 from Eastern Oklahoma A&M College in Wilburton, Oklahoma. Upon graduating from college, John enlisted in the United States Army Air Corp. He received his flight training at Kelly Field in Texas and on May 29, 1941 graduated with a pilot's diploma. He then went on to obtain additional flight training from Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas, known at that time as "The West Point of the Air." November 1, 1941 he was presented a gold I.D. bracelet engraved with his name on the back and pilots wings on the front. He always wore the bracelet. John was a decorated pilot who flew B-17 Bombers and a soldier who proudly served his country during World War II. He held the rank of First Lieutenant of the 30th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Corp. On December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, John had been given orders to return to the States to escort a group of planes back to Hickam Field. When hearing the news, he returned to his home base of Hickam Field ready to do what was needed of him. On October 5, 1942 his squadron was assigned to protect New Guinea from Japanese invasion. While flying over Rabul that day, one of the planes in his group was damaged and he helped to safely maneuver the damaged plane and crew back to their home base. For this, Hancock was awarded the Oak Leaf Cluster for his heroism. On November 1, 1942 pilot First Lieutenant John S. Hancock, co-pilot Second Lieutenant James Carver and crewman Robert H. Burns, Edward R. Cipriani, Raymond Maxwewll, Curtis T. Longenberger and Hiram D. Wilkinson were on a night bombing raid over the area of Faisi in the Soloman Islands, when their plane was caught in enemy search lights and began receiving heavy anti-aircraft fire. That night the plane disappeared. Several attempts were made by the Army to locate the plane. No wreckage or evidence of the plane were ever found. In December 1942 his family was notified that he was missing in action. In the late 1940's, after talking with the Army, John's aunt Lillian Larmour declared him dead. In the mid sixties attempts were made again to try to locate the plane and crew, but still nothing was found. The Army closed the case. In April 2001, the Mortuary and Casualty Department of the United States Army notified John's brother, Walter R. Hancock that the B-17 wreckage had been located near the village of Milau Bay, Papua New Guinea along with bone fragments, personal effects and a gold I.D. bracelet. DNA was obtained from Walter to help in the identification of the remains. Walter passed away on October 18, 2001 having the peace in knowing his brother had been found and would soon be returning home. Confirmation of the identification was given to his sister-in-law Marian Hancock, niece Debbie Fuller and nephew John Hancock on December 21, 2004. They received the gold I.D. bracelet and a full report as to what happened some 62 years earlier. Johnnie, as his family knew him, is now home and will be laid to rest in Memory Gardens Cemetery near his brother Walter. Please come and be a part of the celebration of his life and to honor the laying to rest of our brother, uncle, cousin, friend and World War II veteran, First Lieutenant John Strother Hancock. A reception is being held in his honor at Emmanuel Baptist Church located at 2625 N. Hickory in McAlester following the services. He is survived by his sister-in-law, Marian Hancock, a niece and her husband, Debbie & David Fuller, a nephew and wife, John & Brenda Hancock. Also great-nephews, Bryan and Thomas Fuller and Jared Hancock, great niece, Kari Hancock, all of McAlester as well as several cousins. He is preceded in death by his parents, grandparents, Green Rice Hancock and grandmother Hancock, grandfather, William Marion and Elizabeth E. Medlin Winn, aunt Lillian Winn Larmour, sister, Blanche Winn Hancock Montgomery, brothers, Marion Hancock and Walter Rice Hancock, cousins, Jack, Donald, Joe and Paul Larmour.