Sgt. Robert Francis Gallivan, aboard TBM Avenger - FT-117:
Flight 19 was a training flight of five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that disappeared on December 5, 1945, while over the Atlantic. The squadron's flight plan was scheduled to take them due east from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale for 141 miles, north for 73 miles, and then back over a final 140-mile leg to complete the exercise. The flight never returned to base. The disappearance was attributed by Navy investigators to navigational error leading to the aircraft running out of fuel, however the "Mystery of flight 19" still remains, as nobody really knows what happened.
FT- 117 (part of Flight 19) was a TBM-1C Avenger with BuNo 73209. The pilot for FT-117 was Captain George W. Stivers, USMC. The Radioman was Pvt. Robert F. Gruebel, USMCR. The Gunner was Sgt. Robert Francis Gallivan, USMCR.
Robert Francis Gallivan was born 3 July, 1924 in Northampton, Massachusetts. A Marine Staff Sergeant, he was a veteran of the World War II battles at Guadalcanal, Bougainville, and Tarawa.
The following photographs, cablegrams, and anecdotes
were donated by Eric Lentner (Robert Gallivan was his uncle):
- John Francis and Lorraine were Robert Gallivan's parents. Robert was the eldest of two children. His sister Lorraine (would become Eric Lentner's mom), was named after their mother.
- Robert was going to be discharged and released the following day (December 6, 1945), before his disappearance with Flight 19 on December 5, 1945.
- He was looking forward to return as a civilian (in time for Christmas), to his family in Massachusetts.
- Eric Lentner's older brother related that in the Spring and Summer of 1946 his Grandfather (John F. Gallivan) drove down to the Fort Lauderdale area all the way from Massachusetts, tirelessly looking for his son at random spots, bars, restaurants, and hangouts that his uncle (Sgt. Robert Gallivan), wrote about in his letters.