Lt. Lee Costly Haigler

A picture published in Time Magazine showing Lt Haigler sprinting for his P-38.
LEE COSTLY HAIGLER was the youngest of three children born to Dr Samuel H Haigler and Pearl Cummings Haigler, of Austin, Texas. He attended The University of Texas studying premedical work until the start of World War ll when he joined the United States Army and requested flight training. He was accepted and earned his wings.
He was sent to the Pacific theater and was assigned to the 5th Air Force, 39th Fighter Squadron, where he flew P-38 aircraft. In 1943 he was stationed at Port Moresby, New Guinea, flying almost daily missions.
On November 13, 1943, he was flying as part of a 2-aircraft mission escorting a photo reconnaissance aircraft to Rabaul. The three aircraft crossed the hump and entered the Huon Gulf, part of the Solomon Sea, just south of Salamaua. About 60 miles out to sea, on a line between Salamaua and Gasmata, they ran into severe weather. The recon aircraft disappeared into the storm, and Lt Haigler and his wingman, Lt Andrews, also attempted to fly through the weather. The recon aircraft broke out of the weather near the surface of the sea on his back, as did Lt Andrews. The violence inside the cloud made them lose control and sight of the horizon. lt is assumed Lt Haigler was thrown on his back and crashed into the sea. No trace of him or his aircraft was ever found.
Lt Haigler earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with oak leaves, the Purple Heart, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
39th Fighter Squadron Diary
Recorded by S-Sgt Donald Elmore Thomas
May 17, 1942 to Sept 6, 1944

The first mention of Lt. Lee Costly Haigler in the Squadron diary is on June 2, 1943. The entry is:
Gallup, Salmon, Randall, McGuire, Rogers, Urquhart, Baker, Forest, Lane, Mettler, Haigler, Paregoy, Flood, and Tansing were off at 0735 for an escort for the transports to Wau and Bulolo area. The area was patrolled at an altitude and returning with the second group of transports. Landing here at 1025. No enemy sightings on this mission and the operations officer was ordered to have the planes based up as soon as possible for another mission of the same kind. They were then called off on an interception mission one this area. They were recalled when at 14,000ft. No enemy sightings here but they bombed the Bulldog strip with minor damage. No more flying today.
Not mentioned on June 3, but was on June 4:
The only mission for the day was a weather hop over the entire area around Wau, Bulolo, Lae and etc. Captain Gallup and Lt Haigler were the pilots on this taking off at 0830 and landing at 1045. That was the only mission for today. Of course there was a regular volley ball game. No damage for this game.
Lt. Haigler is mentioned in 25 entries between June 8 and November 9, 1943. The following are the last three entries before Lt. Haigler loss starting with November 11:
Captains King, Denton, Lts. Cella, Lane, Flood, Prentice, Widman, Mettler, Andrews, Rothbeg, Randall, Walters and Haigler took off at 1010 from Dobodura and returned here at 1210. The other pilots and ground crew stayed over there because of bad weather.
No flights today although the rest of the pilots returned and ground crew returned from Dobodura.
Lt. Andrews and Haigler were escorting a F-5 to Rabaul this morning and ran into a terrible storm front, The mission was forced to cancel and became separated. Lt. Haigler has not been heard from since and is missing. Another good pilot lost.