THE last surviving crew of the Swamp Ghost, navigator George B. Munroe has died in America as Papua New Guinea’s best known war relic is prepared to be shipped out of Lae today for the United States to be restored by a private collector.
A US-based war relics lobby group, Pacific Wrecks, which is against the removal of the B17 bomber from its crash site in Oro province, announced First Lt Munroe’s death yesterday.
Pacific Wrecks’ Justin Taylan, a vocal critic of Swamp Ghost’s “illegal export”, said in a media statement from New York: “As if tied to its imminent export, the last living Swamp Ghost veteran, George Munroe, died last week in the US.”
Born on March 21, 1918, in Moline, Illinois, Munroe graduated as an engineer, joined the US Army Air Corps and completed flight training but, due to a shortage of navigators, was assigned to that role.
After the Feb 23, 1942, ill-fated Swamp Ghost mission, Munroe went on to fly more missions as a navigator for more than a dozen more missions. Then, he became a command pilot of his own B-17 for an additional 14 missions in the New Guinea theatre with the 19th Bombardment Group’s “Kangaroo Squadron”.
After the war, Monroe stayed in the military in various capacities and postings around the world.
He lived in retirement in northern Virginia and passed away peacefully on Jan 17, prior to his 92nd birthday.
According to the Pacific Wrecks website, Munroe will be buried at Arlington Cemetery with his wife Emily Sue.
On the imminent export of the Swamp Ghost, Mr Taylan said the airplane wreck was on the Lae dock awaiting export aboard the Pacific Pathfinder, most probably today.