Robert Cooke “Bobby” McGee was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee to George Earnest McGee and Adelaide “Addie” Divine.

Private First Class Robert C. (Bobby) McGee, ID 34141064, was killed in action in 1943. He enlisted on 13 June 1941 at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia. He was a crewmember on B-17E “R.F.D. Tojo” Serial Number 41-2627 and this bomber crashed off the northwest end of the runway near the Laloki River in the Pacific in 1943.

Pilot  Colonel David W. Hutchison
Co-Pilot  1st Lt William H. Fairbank Jr.
Crew  TSgt Nicholas C. Laboda
  Cpl Philip J. Lynch
Crew  TSgt George E. Manley
 Pfc Robert C. McGee
 SSgt Thomas A Lane
 Pvt Ernest E. Young Jr.
 Cpl Hector E. Rodgers
 Pvt Alex Black
Cameramen  Captain Ellis W. Carter
Cameramen  SSgt Joseph E. Hartman
Correspondent  Pendil A. Rayner
Correspondent  Ian Morrison
Correspondent  W. Hayden Lennard
Correspondent  Brydon Taves

On December 26, 1943 at 5:50am took off from 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer) near Port Moresby on a flight to observe the amphibious landing activities at Cape Gloucester on West New Britain. That morning the weather had a zero ceiling with a thick ground fog.

Before take off, reporter Pendil A. Rayner attended the briefing and wrote an account of the planned mission that ended with “lead to follow…”, then handed the copy to a fellow reporter.

Aboard were two cameramen from the 5th Combat Camera Unit (5th CCU) Carter and Hartman. Also, four correspondents: Pendil A. Rayner from the Brisbane Telegraph, W. Hayden Lennard from the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), Brydon Taves who was the Australian manager of United Press (UP) and Ian Morrison from the London Times.

Shortly after take off at roughly 5:53am, this bomber crashed off the northwest end of the runway near the Laloki River. On impact, two were killed Lynch and McGee. Rayner and Taves were severely injured and both died the next day.

After the crash, the bodies of Lynch and McGee wee recovered and buried at Bomana War Cemeter. Postwar, their remains were transported to Hawaii and the United States for permanent burial. Also, Taves and Rayner who died the next day were also buried at Bomana War Cemetery.

Information from

  • Rank: Private First Class
  • Date of birth:
  • 29 March 1913
  • Date of death: 26 December 1943
  • County: Hamilton
  • Hometown: Lookout Mountain
  • Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
  • Theater: Pacific
  • Conflict: World War II
  • Awards: Purple Heart
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Forest Hills Cemetery, Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar XI, Bottom Panel
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