1st Lt Curdes led four P-51s from Mangaldan in Central Luzon to perform reconnaissance of the southern tip of Formosa. Their mission was to locate a small temporary airfield being used by the Japanese. Finding nothing there, they continued on to the northernmost of the Bataan Islands. Curdes and his wingman, Lt. Schmidtke flew over the northern half and the two other P-51s flown by Lieutenants. Scalley and La Croix took the southern half.
Suddenly La Croix’s aircraft was attacked and he had to bail out. Curdes saw La Croix’s parachute open as his Mustang went into the water. La Croix climbed into the liferaft rubber dingy that was part of the parachute pack. Curdes ordered Sculley back to base in order to get another flight out to provide cover for La Croix and see if a rescue PBY amphibian aircraft was available. He told Schmidtke to climb to 15,000 feet and broadcast a “Mayday” and to provide cover for Curdes. Curdes would stay low to make sure that the Japanese didn’t try anything. Curdes made another strafing run on the airfield.
When he pulled up, he saw a twin engine aircraft heading for Japanese held territory. Although it looked like a C-47, he wasn’t sure that it wasn’t a Japanese copy of a DC-2. He closed in and saw the American insignia on the aircraft. He attempted to contact the pilot of the aircraft using various VHF frequencies, but received no reply. The aircraft now went into its final approach glide to land on the strip below. Curdes dove in front of the aircraft three times to try and spoil the C-47s landing, but the pilot continued to try and land. Curdes fired a burst of machine gun fire across the nose of the aircraft, but the transport pilot ignored it. Finally Curdes decided that he would force the transport to ditch into the ocean.
Closing to within approximately twenty yards, he shot out the right engine, then the left. The plane hit the water and came to a stop with 50 yards from La Croix’s raft. Two large rubber dingies inflated and twelve personnel including 4 women climbed in. 2 Army nurses, 2 Red Cross girls.