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abe07.jpg (9246 bytes)

"Abe" Soffer

abe09.jpg (16495 bytes)

"Abe" in his plane


leevanatta01.jpg (42550 bytes) Photograph of General Kenney signed by Kenny for War Correspondent Lee Van Atta.

Photograph via Randy Graham

leevanatta02.jpg (42654 bytes) General Kenny's autograph on his photograph for War Correspondent Lee Van Atta.

Photograph via Randy Graham


Subject:    1st Lieutenant Abraham Soffer 0-791005
Date:             Thu, 1 Jun 2000 19:01:55 -0400
From:           "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

Requesting any & all information you may have on 1st Lieutenant Abraham Soffer 0-791005. Stationed in New Guinea 1943 with the 90th Bombardment Squadron/3rd Bombardment Group APO 503. His plane was the "Notre Dame de Victore" he was chief Navigator on the raid of Rabaul in mid October 1943-please help-sincerely




Subject:    1st Lieutenant Abraham Soffer 0-791005
Date:            Fri, 2 Jun 2000 09:42:01 -0400
From:           "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

Yes I can give you as much information as I know. It is sketchy, he was my Uncle. His CO was Major John (Jock) Henebry of Plainfield Hills, Illinois.

Lieutenant Edward Murphy, Oak Park Illinois was the Co-Pilot on the flight for the "Rabaul Blitz". Other people mentioned in the raid were Lt. Col. Don Hall of Corpis Christi, Texas, & Capt. Richard Ellis of Laureldel Louisiana.

Another mention is made of Lieutenant Charles Howe of Ventura California-pilot of "Here's How", & Lieutenant Richard Davis of Meedford Oregon. All these men were in on the "Rabaul Blitz" . My Uncle was Chief Navigator on the "Notre Dame de Victore" for Major Henebry.

Other mentioned names were his room mate - 1st Lieutenant William F. Rickord 90th Squadron, 3rd Bombardment Group AP0 503. Captain Richard Ellis was the "Squadron Commander".

The loss was so devastating to my family that they tried to bury the memories. I on the contrary am proud of my Uncles accomplishments & wish all his heirs & successors to be abreast of the price paid for the freedom we all enjoy.

Any pictures or help would be greatly appreciated as I plan on building a memorial site in honor of my Uncle the Late Great 1st Lieutenant Abraham Soffer.

Thank you




Subject:    1st Lieutenant Abraham Soffer 0-791005
Date:             Sat, 3 Jun 2000 13:38:46 -0400
From:           "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

To:                < jonjac2@msn.com>

Gd'evening Jack;

wrt: Photography in it's infancy, I agree with you. The Civil War was far from WWII, & there were marked improvements, & Yes WWII is far from digital imaging of today. But yes the photos you boys shot during WWII are priceless in my book. What you witnessed can not be described in words. Some of the pictures that I saw on the web are breath taking. I am going to try & purchase some surrounding the time my Uncle was in New Guinea.----got any recommendations?

wrt: Arrival Time of First Lieutenant A. Soffer. You are quite a guy Jack. I must admit ...nothin but nothin gets by you. Since I am getting no help back here in CT., & you are really the only person to date that has supplied any factual material at all...& with an old box of "Air Mail" letters & a couple of snap shots with no dates on them being my entire reference source....I went back to the letters & carefully went threw them. I can offer you this:----My Uncle arrived in New Guinea sometime between the end of February'43 (where I trace him to "Hamilton Field"-San Francisco CA) From there the next correspondence is New Guinea mid-April approximately April 17th 1943.

Wrt: status of First Lieutenant- Abe writes that he received his promotion on June 26, 1943 to First Lieutenant. increased his pay $25 per month. He was very proud.

Wrt: Monday Sept. 27th, 1943-New Guinea..."I went on a big mission today & were quite successful. When we returned General Kenney was there waiting for us as we came in & each of us met him personally, shook hands with him & congratulated us on our success. I wished that he was going to say "O.K. boys, you can go home now", no such luck, I was really very optimistic thinking this....."

Wrt: "Air Medal"-My Uncle writes on Oct. 10, 1943..."Yesterday I was given the orders for a citation I was awarded the air medal for a combat mission in which I participated quite early in my operations"

Wrt: Rabaul Raid...My uncle writes on Oct.13,1943..."In the last couple of days we pulled some pretty damn big raids & believe me, did we make the Nips holler ouch!! We caught them with there pants down. I imagine it will get quite a write-up in the papers, & made heard through many radio stations. If you look hard you may find me mentioned in it .The war corespondent rode along with us & wrote the story on our way home. He actually got out his typewriter & ticked away...(I have this copied in the "Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph" paper & the corespondents name was Lee Van Atta story was "Eyewitness Story of Rabaul Smash"-published Oct.14,1943

I spoke with my father re: this stuff & his recollection was that my Uncle had 47 missions in & only 3 more to go.

Wrt: The crash ....1st Lieutenant William F. Rickord writes "The 90th is an Ace Bomber squadron, & Abe did more than his share to make it so as Chief Navigator. We flew together often, & there was never a doubt as to where we were at any time. He was on a routine flight when the crash occurred, & never suffered an instant. It was as clean as can be. The funeral was during the afternoon on the same day, & he was interred in a simple little cemetery ......" That was written Oct. 30th, 1943.

So Jack if you would...or if you could....

1. You tell me Notre Dame de Victore was ditched On Nov.2,1943 with Major Henebry as the pilot. Got any idea what plane my Uncle was in when he crashed?

2. Where would I go about locating a picture of the Notre dame de Victore?

3. Are you aware of any photographs that might show the raids my Uncle was on revealing what his eyes saw? If you are...how can I obtain copies?

4. Where would I look in order to try & find photographs of my Uncle in New Guinea?

As you can see, my thirst for knowledge is a killer. I love photography, & truly believe that 1 picture, is worth more than a whole books worth of words. Any information you can supply me with would be a great deal of help. In order for me to post a commemorative site to the Late Great Abraham Soffer...I would need some pictures. In closing I wish to thank you for your sincere efforts in helping me. as my Uncle wrote the Air Force is a fraternity of brotherly love. One would have to experience it to understand it. I enclose a few pictures that I am using to build the file....

sincerely & always - Stu


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The Branford Review
Branford, Connecticut, Thursday, November 4, 1943

Word Received Of Lieutenant Soffer's Death

Local Boy Dies October 29th In New Guinea - Was 25 Years Old.

Local Youth Dies in South Pacific

abe05.jpg (26085 bytes)


Mr. and Mrs. Louis Soffer of Stony Creek Road have received a telegram from the War Department, stating their son, Lt. Abraham Soffer, had died in New Guinea on October 29. A letter will follow.

Lt. Soffer was born in Waterbury but was a graduate of Branford High School. He had just passed his 25th birthday.

He was a former employee of Wm. Van Wilgen and Rockbestos Co.

Lt. Soffer, was an honor graduate of the Branford High School with the class of 1938. Enlisting in the U.S. Air Force on December 18, 1941, he advanced rapidly, soon receiving his commission as second, and then as first lieutenant. In February of this year, he telephoned his family from Sacramento, Calif., saying that he had just completed a cross-country flight in a B-25 on which he was a navigator. Shortly after that he was sent overseas and letters arrived from New Guinea, saying that he was well and enjoying his work, and a few weeks ago he wrote of spending a 15-day leave in Australia.

Besides his parents, he leaves two brothers, Jacob and Joseph, and two sisters, Jean and Harriet.

He was a navigator on a bomber and was awarded the air medal for meritorious action under heavy fire somewhere near the Solomons.

He attended a navigator school in Georgia.

The medal was awarded for meritorious achievement while participating in an aerial flight over Madang, New Guinea, on May 8, 1943.

This aircraft was one of a flight of B-25 bombers engaged on a mission to search for and destroy two enemy vessels in the vicinity of Madang. In the face of intense anti-aircraft fire and opposition from ten enemy fighters, bombs were dropped from low-level on an enemy vessel scoring direct hits and causing it to list badly. The enemy vessel was left in a burning condition and a reconnaissance plane later reported that it was beached, broken up and still smoking and burning. The courage, skill and devotion to duty displayed by these crew members on this occasion are worthy of commendation.



Subject:    Thank you & hope this helps to jog Henebry's mind a little.
Date:             Sun, 4 Jun 2000 15:18:35 -0400
From:           "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

To:                < jonjac2@msn.com>


Hello Guys:

To both Peter & Jack,

I want to thank both of you for your assistance in my efforts to honor my Uncle. I can-not do this alone, & yes both of you are a 'godsent' to me.

Wrt:- the pictures that Jack e-mailed me yesterday, they flew in perfect form. One I had already seen as it's posted on the web in your collection, the others are wonderful. Saw a film last night Jack....my Uncle was always writing home about films he saw while in the service....any way made me think about you. It was called " From the Heart", & there is a young girl who takes on the profession of photography for a living. She has the old "Box" style camera, with the wind up crank on the side, with manual F-stops etc. You are so---right re: the sending of images via the net. I'm with you...got no idea how it works, but I sure am gonna take advantage of it.

Back when you were taking pictures in the service, you were limited to the abilities of your camera. It's clear to me that you used your lenses to the max. Imagine if you would have had the equipment of today, back then.

Wrt: Peters addition to the site

thank you sooo much. You can add whatever you feel it deserves. I just hope that somebody...some where...will come up with some picture of my Uncle with his crew, or the plane he flew in as 'Chief Navigator'

Wrt: the material I attached yesterday...did you guys receive it O.K.?

Wrt: "Nose Art".....O.K. boy's, I'm not gonna rest till I get a picture of the nose of the "Notre Dame de Victore" I have looked at lots of nose art, & nothing yet. This was the plane that Henebry flew. Henebry & my Uncle were buddies. Jock Henebry(later a major general & President of AFA) could open some doors for me. According to what you have told me, the Notre Dame de Victore was ditched on Nov. 2nd.1943. I am certain Jock has pictures, or some member of his family. Anybody have any idea on how to reach him?

Wrt: The Rabaul Raid, according to the account by Lee Van Atta, the author of the article I have, "he" said that the plane to his right was "Here's How", flown by Lt. Charles Howe,...the plane to his left was flown by Ellis, the squadron commander, Henebry, & my Uncle were in the center behind Hall's lead ship. Jack you said Van Atta was in Chicago you thought, any idea were.

I know 57 years is a long time, but I can't remember that far back, I'm only 45 years young. Also Jack I do believe that's "Your" photo of "Here's How" on the web collection. Are you certain not to have a shot of the Notre dame?-I always pray a little.

Wrt: correspondence from my Uncle

May 10th 1943:

......"We did something good for the war the other day, I wish I could tell you about it but I can't, it was exceptionally good and you may sometime see a newsreel of our planes coming "home"..Man'O'Man!!!, will I have stories for you when I get home."

Anybody know what mission Abe was referring to?

Tuesday June 29th 1943:

"Had a little party last night amongst the officers of this squadron. The occasion-Our C.O. was promoted from Captain to Major. Had a hell of a good time. The drinks?..well we got a shipment from down south(Australia). Got some beer & whiskey & Coca Colas. I couldn't speak much for the whiskey but as I hadn't had any in a long time, it tasted fairly well. But the beer is much better than our beer in the states-no kiddin-it really is wonderful beer-it contains 26% per cent in the first place. Everybody was happy & it was a swell party. I'm not foolin' you one bit when I say I'm proud to be in this squadron. I hope to stay with it. It's the best dam outfit in the whole Air Force as far as I'm concerned & everybody here feels the same way about it. A better bunch of guys you can't find anywhere in the world. The brotherly feeling in the squadron is wonderful"......

How 'bout that Pete!!

Mon. August 23rd 1943:

My leave is well over now & I'm back in the old routine again. I certainly had a wonderful time & it will have to last me until I get another leave. It's kind of a custom amongst the fellows here that everyone who goes on leave brings back something special to drink & cigars if they are available. I brought back two bottles of scotch whiskey & cigars, & of course I was welcomed with open arms. I hadn't been back hardly ten minutes when my C.O.(Major Henebry-one of the best guys you can ever meet) came over to me & in sort of a whisper said,"hey Sof"(they all call me "Soff"), "ya got anything-did you bring anything back", in a way that too many shouldn't hear. And I said, "Jock, come in-I got just what you need to give you a good appetite." And he said, "don't mind if I do, Don't mind if I do." Then I told him all about my leave & after we had a couple of drinks, we kind of forgot about eating. Outside of business or socially we call him. 'Jock'-his nickname, otherwise we call him by his rank, Major. He's strictly a swell guy...."

Somebody within the Henebry family has the scrapbook I'm searching for.


O.K. guys, got the picture. I need some help with either contacts or photographs of the "Notre Dame de Victore" They are out there, somebody has them. All I need is a copy. I know you will do your best, & I will help if you forward me some names. I have an appointment tomorrow to re-store the newspaper account by Lee Van Atta. Once I get it in a scanable form I'll send it along. I found a picture of my Uncle in a Plane on my Dad's wall of his house. I have no idea if he is in New Guinea or Stateside. Don't even know what kind of plane he's in, but it is Abe for sure.

My best to you both,

Always stu

I play with 35 mm prints in my spare time.


Abe and his plane



Subject:     Eyewitness Story-Rabaul Smash
Date:              Mon, 5 Jun 2000 10:31:31 -0400
From:           "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

To:                 < jonjac2@msn.com>

Eyewitness Story-Rabaul Smash-

Not for nothing gentlemen, but I am still in Branford CT. Abe's hometown. Just exactly were are you guys?

wrt: your request on the newspaper clipping, I have no idea if that's my Uncles grave or not. It was included in the box of old letters I found. Somebody must have sent it to my grandparents, especially when they saw New Guinea, & a Star of David. I am in agreement with you, doubtful it was his funeral. One thing is for certain, it's old & was saved for 57 years without I.D.

wrt: the photographs of the crash site:-Yup, I agree..probably was my Uncle out there in pieces. Don't have to worry about closure from the remaining members of Abe's family. This issue died when they buried his Mom some 25 years ago. As long as Abe's mom was alive..there would be no closure. Once my grandmother passed on there was a sigh of relief. A mother never gives up the loss of her first-born, & she carried it with her to her grave.

wrt; attachment #2-Letter from Chaplin. Jack, this is even more sketchy. The chaplin said that my Uncle was buried in San Francisco, the letter was dated in Dec.1943. Also states that he died at 8:40 a.m. on a routine flight on the take-off. This brings me to attachment #3

wrt:attachment #3-This is a V-gram that was buried in all the letters. Dated 1944, it clearly states that my Uncle was buried in New Guinea, not San-Francisco as the Chaplin stated in attachment #2.

Best of luck, good health & hang tight...We'll come up with a photo of the Notre Dame de Victore yet,


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Attachment #1

Warning this file is 387Kbytes

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Attachment #2

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Attachment #3



Subject:   Eyewitness Story-Rabaul Smash
Date:           Thu, 8 Jun 2000 20:56:33 -0400
From:           "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

To:               "Peter Dunn"

Hello Peter:

Jack was right, as usual. You are an amazing guy. Are you hangin' this stuff out there cause you feel it's impt.? Or are you hanging this stuff out there just because my Uncle was in the 90th? Doesn't matter to me why, it's an honor for sure.

As you are aware I contacted Henebry, that is Maj. Gen.(Ret) John P. Henebry aka Jock. Spoke with him earlier in the week. He says he remembers the name Soffer. He is currently living with his daughter Patricia Callahan, in Wineptka Ill. Pat told me to foward her my request in writing, & she will see to it that the photos get into my hands.

Once I get the pictures, and depending on the quality, I am going to get copies & send them to Jack, & you. Do you prefer scan copies, or do you want mailings. From what I see, the scan copies are doing just fine.

You have posted a number of additions to the site that I have enclosed as attachments. I have lot's more, I just don't know how much of it is actually worthy of a military site? I'll send more stuff as I get it. I downloaded a shot of Henebry from a 90th website. I can-not I.D. the plane---maybe you can do a better job than me.

Hang tight Pete...The Notre Dame de Victore is comin in for a landing. Additionally, I have the actual newspaper "Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph" paper in the hands of a "Copy re-storer". I should be able to send you a copy in about a week.

Thank you for your consideration to me & my family,


Enclosed is a Picture of Ellis, Abe's squadron Commander/Henebry & Crew In New Guinea..Plane??? Dice-downloaded from the 90th website/Picture from Jack Heyn's scrap-book. We think it's the crash. Jack says they didn't loose many planes on the take-off. He had this marked between Oct. 20th & Nov.1-must have been the plane. Lt. Lockart was the pilot...do you have anything on him??//Lastly is a picture I found that Abe sent home from New Guinea. On the back of the picture he wrote "Natives help build hut"....

easy Pete-stu

Jack...you must have "egged" him on a little. I also sent an e-mail to Andy as you suggested, haven't heard anything yet.

Thanks-easy, stu

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Captain Richard Ellis,
Abe's Squadron Commander, later a 4 Star General

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Henebry and crew in New Guinea

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Pair - O - Dice
90th Fighter Squadron


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On this page we have shots of the 90th Sq. B-25 that cracked up on a take-off. Lt. Lockhart was pilot and when he took off the ship made a complete slow-roll and then nosed into the ground, just short of the 13th dispersal area. The 3 members were killed and as you can plainly see there wasn't much left of the airplane and it tore the ground up pretty much."
abe17.jpg (141737 bytes) See above
abe18.jpg (69269 bytes) New Guinea natives prepare to build a hut



Subject:     90th Fighter Squadron Dicemen
Date:              Sat, 10 Jun 2000 10:52:56 -0400
From:            "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

Hello Brisbane:

Stu talkin' Pete...

Wrt: yesterdays addition to the page

I noticed that you ID'ed the emblem of "The Dice Men" as the 80th & not the 90th (now fixed - Peter). This is a 90th emblem I believe. I am including the URL for the site, as it may contain information that you may find relevant.

Thank's Pete, stu



Subject:     Valor-1987
Date:             Tue, 13 Jun 2000 18:39:13 -0400
From:           "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

To:                "Jack Heyn" < jonjac2@msn.com>

Good Evening Boys:

In my search for material surrounding my Uncle 1st Lieutenant Abraham Soffer 0-791005, I came across the following article. I thought you might find the content of interest. One thing is confirmed in this article is the "Ditching" of the Notre Dame de Victore on Nov. 2nd. According to the article, Raymond Wilkins lost his life on the same day that Henebry's plane went down.

Question:-Jack -did you know Major Raymond Wilkins?

Are there any photographs of Wilkins?

Is there a particular plane that is affiliated with Wilkins?

If this article is correct..Wilkins was in on the Oct. 12th 'Raid On Rabaul'.

Additionally the article depicts & I quote - "On Nov. 2, nine squadrons of B-25's, all at about half strength, and their escorts of P-38's...."

Does anyone know how many planes are in a squadron? Is there the same amount of planes in a squadron that's at half strength? How many P-38's generally escort a squadron?

Thanks for your assistance, & I enclose a copy of my Uncle & his buddies in training before departing for New Guinea.

Best to all, Stu


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Abraham Soffer and his buddies


Published by the Air Force Association
November 1987, Vol 70. No. 11

By John L. Frisbee, Contributing Editor

Raid on Rabaul

Maj. Raymond Wilkins led his squadron on the difficult missions - and this was to be the toughest of them all.

At the end of October 1941, 2nd Lt. Raymond Wilkins pinned on his wings and gold bars and departed San Antonio for San Francisco, where he boarded a transport bound for the Philippines. In mid-passage, the Japanese attacked Manila. The transport was diverted to Australia, and there Wilkins joined the 3rd Bombardment Group late in December. The group was equipped with obsolete A-24 dive bombers, A-20s, and B-25s.

It was two months before the 3rd could move its squadrons to New Guinea and enter combat. Wilkins flew his first mission in an A-24. The slow, vulnerable dive bomber couldn't survive in a land war and soon was abandoned. Of seven A-24s sent on one mission, Wilkins's was the only one to come back. At the end of a year, he had logged more than 50 combat missions (most of them in B-25 Mitchells), been promoted to captain, and earned the Silver Star. He was eligible for rotation, but elected to stay with the group and was given command of the 8th Bombardment Squadron.

After Wilkins became a squadron commander, he continued to lead all the tough missions. Among the most dangerous were attacks on enemy ships. B-25 tactics were to go in at masthead height, strafing all the way, and skip their bombs into the target. Wilkins led many of these missions during the summer of 1943.

The toughest target in the Fifth Air Force area was Rabaul, on the northeast tip of New Britain Island. With its great harbor, docks and wharehouses, it was the anchor of the Japanese position in the Southwest Pacific, defended by more than 300 antiaircraft guns and fighters on five airfields.

In the fall of 1943, Fifth Air Force commander Gen. George Kenney planned to take out Rabaul with a sustained campaign. Beginning on Oct. 12, his bombers, escorted by P-38's, hit Rabaul every day the weather was right. By Oct. 29, there were believed to be no more than 50 or 60 defending fighters left, but on Oct. 30, unknown to the Americans, the Japanese had moved in more than 100 fighters. Kenney's force, on the other hand, had been whittled down considerably by combat attrition and battle damage.

On Nov. 2, nine squadrons of B-25s, all at about half strength, and their escort of P-38s went against the strengthened defenses of Rabaul. Four squadrons of Mitchells hit AA positions on shore and laid a smokescreen to protect the other B-25s, led by Lt. Col. Jock Henebry (later Major General and President of AFA), in their attack on ships in the harbour.

The 8th squadron was led by Major Wilkins, who deployed his bombers, the last to enter the harbor, so that his was in the position of greatest danger. Smoke from earlier strikes forced him to change his approach at the last minute, which meant going through the heaviest fire from enemy fighters and more than 30 ships ranging from heavy cruisers and destroyers to armed transports, all concentrated in a radius of less than a mile.

Wilkins was hit almost immediately, with damage to the B-25's controls. He opened up with his guns on a group of small vessels and then, attacking a destroyer, put a 1,000-pound bomb squarely into it side. Fire from the destroyer demolished part of his left vertical stabilizer, increasing the difficulty of controlling the B-25. Under the circumstances, Wilkins would have been justified in pulling out of the fight and, with luck, limping back to New Guinea. But he had one bomb left. Skimming the water, he sent it into a large transport that erupted in flames.

Now Wilkins signaled his B-25s to withdraw. To protect them, he attacked a heavy cruiser that lay in their path, sweeping its decks with machine-gun fire. Shells from the cruiser took off the remainder of his damaged stabilizer. To avoid crashing into the other bombers, Wilkins rolled his B-25 over, exposing its belly and wing surfaces to a stream of fire that tore off the left wing and sent the plane plunging into the sea. The remaining Mitchells of his squadron made it safely out of the harbor.

Initially (enemy shipping losses later were revised) it was believed that 30 of 38 ships had been sunk or damaged, 85 Japanese planes destroyed , and many tons of supplies sent up in flames at a cost of eight B-25s and nine P-38s. Some of the crews that crashed or ditched on the way home - Henebry's among them -- were recovered. It was the most bitter fight of the war up to that point - a a day filled with valor.

For his series of heroic acts on this, his 78th combat mission, Wilkins was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. He was the last member of the original 3rd Bombardment Group that had formed in Australia almost two years earlier.



Subject:    Thank you
Date:             Sun, 18 Jun 2000 13:05:11 -0400
From:           "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

To:                "carlaswain" <carlaswain@email.msn.com>
CC:               "Jack Heyn" < jonjac2@msn.com>


I'm Stu Soffer, & yes that was my uncle in the plane that went down in New Guinea Oct 29 1943.

I appreciate you getting to Jack with the info. Any additional info you can dig up is much appreciated. Currently my ISP is failing me. I should be in better shape by the 5th of July.

I asked Jack to try & get a name/nose art/& or picture of the plane involved in the fatality that killed my Uncle. I am hoping that Peter Dunn will post this information on the soffer page on his site.

Once again, thank you & please bear with me 'till my new ISP service arrives first week in July.

Happy fathers day to all-stu



Subject:     Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph-Oct. 14, 1943
Date:              Tue, 20 Jun 2000 17:46:07 -0400
From:           "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

To:                 "Jack Heyn" < jonjac2@msn.com>

Hello Boys,

Got the original Newspaper back from the printer today. The article is on two pages, I am sending along copies for your files. I can reduce or enlarge, or if you like...send full page via snail mail. Always better to see information in it's entirety in original format.

To the both of you Jack & Peter alike...I receive nothing but compliments from on-lookers re: the contributions you two have made to me, my family, & all the rest of the world that enjoy the peace & tranquility from those who laid down their lives.

I can-not begin to thank you enough for all you have done.

I am still waiting on pictorials & information from the Henebry family. Still waiting on photographs & information from Abe's brothers & sisters. For certain...one of those photos is going to reveal the current resting place of 1st Lieutenant Abraham Soffer(0-791005) somewhere in the Philippines.

Best regards to the both of you..keep in touch, & I will write again soon.

Easy guys-stu

Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph
Thursday 14 October 1943

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Subject:     Photos from Bill Swain
Date:              Wed, 21 Jun 2000 10:37:36 -0400
From:            "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>
To:                 "Jack Heyn" < jonjac2@msn.com>

Good morning Gentlemen:

At least it's morning on the right coast of the USA. Yesterday I forwarded you the original Lee Van Atta story from the Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph. Today......in my inbox....I receive a photo from one of Jak Heyn's buddies "Bill Swain" aka calaswain@email.msn.com. Open the photo & "Lord Have Mercy" - starring me straight in the face is none other than Lee Van Atta, Richard Ellis, & Jock Henebry. Truly a rare photo standing together in front of 'Seabiscuit'.

I thought it only appropriate to send this along to go in conjunction with the article I sent you yesterday.

I am going to send Bill Swain a copy of the original Lee Van Atta news account.

Hope you guys find this of interest....I most certainly did. Additionally, there seem to be some question as to the account of what took place on the morning of Oct. 29, 1943...the day my Uncle perished. I tend to agree with Jack's details of the events.....although he was not an eyewitness. Seems more credible to believe that plane was loaded with fuel, & not bombs...being a local run, seems more credible that one engine would fail....re-start & cause the plane to roll before the pilot could correct the error.

Really does not matter.......nothing is going to bring back the boys.....what is impt. is to document the events as they unfolded, & preserve the images that are stored in the minds of people such as Jack Heyn, so that the world will always be reminded of the sacrifice offered in return for life as we know it today.......which is all too often taken for granted.

Easy-boys, stu

abe32.jpg (44994 bytes)

"Hill's Angels" flown by Lieutenant Allen Hill on the mission to Rabaul on 2 November 1943

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Dick Ellis, Jock Henebry, and War Correspondent Lee Van Atta beside "Seabiscuit" on 2 November 1943



Subject:      Photos from Bill Swain
Date:               Thu, 22 Jun 2000 21:39:15 -0400
From:             "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

Hey Pete:

You are most welcome. Newspaper articles are always most impressive in original format. And the picture from Bill Swain..wow..what timing. Thanks for all your help...still waiting on photos from the Henebry family, & Abe's brothers & sisters.

Keep in touch-stu



Subject:    Checking In
Date:             Wed, 28 Jun 2000 19:08:05 -0400
From:           "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

Hello Peter Of Australia:

Stu talkin'. Not much happenin' on the right coast of the U.S. 4th of July comin' up & everyone wants to party. Still waiting on info from Henebry. Shot out a letter to Larry Hickey, got his address from Bill Swain. Not certain what the outcome is going to be, but one thing is for certain......I'm chasing the Notre Dame for all she's worth. I'm not going to let go till we have a photo. Bill Swain sent me a scan of a painting that is an artist's rendition of the Notre Dame, & said it was signed by Henebry. I can-not detect the signature or the Nose Art. I'm sending it along in case you don't have a copy.

Easy Pete, & keep in touch-stu

abe23.jpg (84456 bytes)

Notre Dame



Subject:    Info
Date:             Fri, 30 Jun 2000 11:11:07 -0400
From:           "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

Hey Pete:

Glad you liked the painting, I can't remember if you received a copy of this information from Bill Swain or not. I am sending it along for your records.

I know you have the picture...not certain about the letter. Certainly sums up Jack's findings on the crash that killed my Uncle. I did send an e-mail to Larry Hickey, he is very busy and everything he is doing is Hush-Hush 'till he publishes his book on the 3rd B.G. Larry did confirm that although he I.D.'ed the crash.....he can-not put a name to the plane, or find a photo of the plane. He said he can attest for 80% of the planes in the 3rd, this is one of those that remains a mystery to him.

Esay Pete-stu

----- Original Message -----
From: carlaswain
To: Jack Heyn
Sent: Sunday, June 18, 2000 12:44 AM
Subject: Info

Evening Jack......Hope this finds you and your family in good spirits and health.

Just sent Pete a photo of a wrecked A-24 that dad had. Larry Hickey id'ed it at the reunion, and since it was in Aussie land, I figured Pete might like it for the site.

a-24.jpg (40290 bytes)

Wreckage of an A-24 at Charters Towers

Collision of two A-24's at Charters Towers on 5 June 1942


While checking his site, I came across the e-mails of Stu Soffer. I get from the text that you were the usual helpful self in helping a family learn something of a lost one.

While at the reunion, along with a book,  Hickey gave me a rough copy of the incidents where the group suffered fatal losses.

It starts from March of 42' and goes to June of 45'. I looked up the incident and it goes into some detail....

Don't know the extent of the info you gave Stu, but this is what I have....see if it matches your info...

" B-25 #41-30320 crashed on take-off while doing a routine compass check...The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed that an engine cut out....Lt. Lockhart trimmed the a/c up without feathering the bad engine....the bad engine then caught (started) and turned (rolled) the a/c over before Lt. Lockhart could correct......Plane was fully loaded with fuel."

Aboard were:

Lockhart, 1/Lt. Robert V.....Pilot
Chapin, 2/Lt. Robert H. ?
Soffer, 1/Lt. Abraham ?

This list is made from both Group Records and verified (where possible) with Vets Notes.

If you ever need any of this info Jack, please drop me a line.

Give the family our regards, and have a pleasant Sunday and Happy Fathers Day!!




Subject:     Info
Date:              Sat, 1 Jul 2000 10:10:17 -0400
From:           "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

Gidday Pete:

> The painting is now on the home page.

Just exactly what home page are you referring to? I can't seem to locate it, or where you have placed it.

> I had the piccie but not the e-mail. Ta muchly.

You are most welcome, and I must say...Peter you are a man of few words, short e-mails, but you carry a "Big" stick. Most correspondence to me.......from you..... is only a couple of words. You digest all that's sent you, & transpose everything to a "web page" full of historical documents, posted for all to see. Those gidday, piccies, Ta etc...end up as history books for all who pass threw. What you started as e-mails from stu soffer is rapidly approaching 100 hits in less than a month. Very impressive Pete....I guess the U.S. should start taking lessons from Aussie Land. I am certain that it will be years before our paths cross, Australia is far from the right coast of the USA, but make no mistake about it..you are on my list, if & when I ever get off the farm my Uncle left some 60 years ago, I will look you up.

I attach a photo of myself, you now can attach a face to a name & properly ID me.

Easy Pete-& Thanks so much for all you have done.


stu01.jpg (27948 bytes)

Stu Soffer



Subject:      8-)
Date:               Tue, 4 Jul 2000 10:04:15 -0400
From:              "stu soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

Morning Pete:

And happy 4th of July. Not certain if you celebrate the 4th in Aussie land......but here in the USA it's a biggie. Damn few want to do anything at all, x-cept "Cocktail Hour".

Thanks for you consideration re: changing the e-mail addresses. I should be set after tomorrow.

All quiet at the farm here on the right coast. Just routine chores for today, I plan on knocking off early & catching up on some R&R for a couple of hours before the grind tomorrow morning.

I have heard nothing from Jack, Bill, Larry Hickey,or Henebry. I think everyone is on vacation this week. I did travel to Larry Hickey's web-site.  Have you been there? He has some interesting photos from a book he is about to publish under "Previews" - I think it's called Warpath. Here is the address in case you want to check it out.


I'm sending along my favorite picture from his site called preview7. Personally speaking, I can't wait 'till he publishes his book on the 3rd.

According to what he's told me...it's going to be awesome.

Easy pete-stu



Subject:     New Piccies
Date:              Fri, 7 Jul 2000 17:00:31 -0400
From:            "stu soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

CC:                "Jack Heyn" < jonjac2@msn.com>

Gidday Mates:

Here's wot's new! received a couple of new piccies from my Uncles Sisters. They need to get scanned in, & I'll send them along tomorrow. One is definitely a New Guinea "Hut" shot with my Uncle clear as a bell. Got to work tonight so I'm gonna run along now. I'll copy & scan Saturday 7/8 & send out the new photos. Still nothing on Henebry.......time to draft my second letter, & follow up with a phone call.

Later boy's- stu



Subject:     New piccies
Date:              Sat, 8 Jul 2000 16:51:17 -0400
From:            "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

Gidday Mate:

Been on any walkabout's lately? I hear there's a bloke name Mick Dundee out in the bush their matey? Catch site of him atoll? Wouldn't be a relative would he? The ladies over hear on the right coast just flip for guys like Crocodile Dundee?

Received the following piccies from my Uncles 2 sisters. One is a shot of my Uncle wearing an Army Helmet, & a handgun. I believe that this is a shot taken in the U.S. probably in training...put it at 1942. There is another shot of him at training in Uniform, I put it at 1942 as well. The last shot I am sending today is a picture of 1st Lieutenant Abraham Soffer 0-791005 in new Guinea, sitting in a hut, along side a friend. No ID on anyone else in the photo, but my Aunt assures me New Guinea 1943.

Also for your records, & in addition to your site I forward 3 maps of the Pacific Theatre that I downloaded from a military site. the following are a listing of three addresses that you can explore in your spare time:

. I'll include the site address & you can visit it your self...go to http://www.army.mil you can run a search from there

These maps are in my opinion very important. It is most difficult to get a feel for what we are discussing, unless you can pinpoint exactly the area in question geographically. These maps spread a whole new insight to my appreciation of "Australia at War".

Let me know your thoughts Pete



abe24.jpg (43538 bytes)

Abe Soffer wearing an Army Helmet

abe25.jpg (43686 bytes)

Abe Soffer in training camp

abe26.jpg (43205 bytes)

Abe Soffer in a hut in New Guinea

abe27.jpg (106885 bytes)

Fight for the Owen Stanley Range

abe28.jpg (133072 bytes)

Allied advances in New Guinea

abe29.jpg (272366 bytes)

Pacific Theatre of War



Subject:    New piccies
Date:             Sun, 9 Jul 2000 06:19:50 -0400
From:           "Stuart Soffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

Evening Mate:

Just came in from work. Ever check out the website? During tonight's events, I sat in on the film  "Frequency".......Jolly Good Show, if I don't say so myself. If you get the time I highly recommend it. Also exhibiting the film "Keeping The Faith", very good film. Hoyt's is Australian based, & huge in America....so I  imagine release dates for films are about the same in Hollywood as they are in Brisbane. I give Keeping the Faith 3 & 3/4 stars. One of the best I've seen in the year 2000. If you ever get to the theatre let me know what you think?

Wrt: The maps--------I went to your page on the Southwest Pacific Area - Very nice map/ I am not partial here, I just like the maps I sent you a little better. Just my opinion, but I feel they give a better description, & more detail re: the areas being discussed.

Nothing wrong with your map...I believe if I found it first, I probably never would have been searching elsewhere. I asked Jack if he had any maps, & he sent me pictures from the museum he visited in Hawaii. Now that's a map. If there is a copy of that map...I would love to have one. I'll see if I can dig up the photo's Jack sent me & send them along for the fun of it.

Gonna run along here--------I will keep in touch as usual. Both Jack, & Bill are away on vacation.....so Tag you're it!

Always Pete:-stu


abe30.jpg (150892 bytes)

Jack and Jonnie Heyn in Hawaii

Warning: This file is 148 kbytes

abe31.jpg (192406 bytes)

Map of New Guinea

Warning: This file is 188 kbytes



Subject:    William Rickord
Date:            Tue, 21 Aug 2001 12:33:12 -0700
From:          "stusoffer" <stusoffer@snet.net>

Hi Pete:

Stu talking------I think your website yielded a response form my Uncle's tent mate in New Guinea. 1st Lieutenant William Rickord e-mail's me & says "I was Abe's tent mate, we lived together in New Guinea, we pitched our tent on a bamboo platform to keep the snakes out." He was a pall bearer at my Uncle's funeral, & wrote a letter to my family expressing his deepest sympathy's some 57 years ago. Now he contacts me, & sends on some info--which I forward to you.


abe34.jpg (343988 bytes) American and Australian crews in the 90th at Dobadura, New Guinea in the 90th Bomb Squadron


Front Row:- L to R. McGuire (Flight Surgeon), Ken Rosebush (pilot), ?, ?, McClellan (pilot), Phil Hawkins (pilot), ?, ?, "Runt" Helbert (pilot), Birge Newman (pilot - sitting behind Helbert), Vanusek (in charge of all maintenance), Head Adjutant in charge of Intelligence, ? (with dog), Gofort (pilot), ?

Back row:- ?, ?, ?, Jock Henebry, ?, ?, Lee Jones (pilot), ?, ?, ?, ?, Abe Soffer, ?, ?, Bill Rickord, ?, Saunders?, ?, ?, ?

Can anyone identify
the other men in the photo?

abe35.jpg (80050 bytes) The Commanding Officer, Major Ed Larner who piloted the aircraft when Abe Soffer was killed
abe36.jpg (14593 bytes) William F. Rickord formerly of Minneapolis
abe37.jpg (73516 bytes) William Rickord (far right) and his crew


Any help would be greatly appreciated-



Can anyone help me with more information?


"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

I need your help


 Peter Dunn OAM 2020


Please e-mail me
any information or photographs

"Australia @ War"
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This page first produced 24 April 2000

This page last updated 04 March 2020