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NEW DEVELOPMENTS AS OF NOVEMBER 6, 2010

Dan King spoke with the pilot's son and sent him a small piece of the P-51 plane wreckage that Dan brought back from Chichi Jima 18 years ago. "For the last 18 years I have been looking for someone to return this piece of wreckage to. I was happy to be able to send it to pilot's son," King said.


While visiting the island of Chichi jima in 1992 I was escorted to a P-51 crash site by a local who kindly took the time and effort to guide me through the thick brush to the crash site. I could tell it was a P-51 and although badly smashed could make out the US star on the wing and yellow & black paint on what appeared to be remains of the tail. The cockpit and the remaining wing were not to be found. The local guide informed that they had searched but never found the other half of the plane.

It has been 18 years since I visited the island, and now through the efforts of many dedicated people, the pilot who last flew that P-51 has been identified as 2nd Lt. Arthur Zellweger, 72nd Fighter Squadron (21st Fighter Group) based on Iwo Jima. He is one of 3 MIAs from the Chichi Jima area but his squadron was the only one that had yellow and black paint on their tails.

On June 2 1945, 2nd Lt. Zellweger and others from his squadron were tasked with strafing targets on the nearby island of Chichi jima. It seems that Japanese anti-aircraft fire from closeby Haha Jima hit Zellweger's plane and blew it apart mid-air. Part of the plane landed in the bay and part landed in the jungle, though no remains have been found to date. Fellow P-51 pilot Lt.Clyde Decker witnessed the incident and made note of it in his report (PDF), but passed away several years ago.

2nd Lt. Zellweger was born in Argile Wisconsin the son of Swiss immigrants. As a child he spent time in Stephanson Illinois and in 1944 was married to a "Mae Elizabeth Kent" in Sarasota Florida. They had a son together, named him Richard Arthur Zellweger, who was born two months after he was shot down over Chichi Jima. The pilot's wife later remarried but let her son keep his last name.

Dan King spoke with the pilot's son and sent him a small piece of the P-51 plane wreckage that Dan brought back from Chichi Jima 18 years ago. "For the last 18 years I have been looking for someone to return this piece of wreckage to. I was happy to be able to send it to pilot's son," King said.

The Zellweger family has no photos of 2nd Lt. Arthur Zellweger but Mark Stevens is searching for a photo in the Air Force archives. I will post it as soon as he locates it.

I'd like to thank the following for their research efforts:

  • LtCol. Gary Meyers (USMC-Ret)
  • Henry Sakaida (WWII historian, author)
  • Mark Stevens (President of 7th Fighter Command Association, and historian for 20th Air Force Association.)
  • Justin Taylan (Pacificwrecks.org)
  • Jerry Yellin (WWII era P-51 Pilot and author)