Service Details
Given Name:
Service No:
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South African Air Force
Other Casualties from this Regiment
2 Sqdn.
Other Casualties from this Unit
Date of Death:
Other Casualties on this Date
Cause of Death:
Killed in action, in North American F-51 Mustang #338. T/Capt F.M. Bekker, together with Lt R.M. du Plooy, and 2Lts M.I.B. Halley and D.A.R Green, was tasked to conduct a weather reconnaissance of the West Coast of North Korea. They proceeded up the Han Gang River at about 1500 feet, turning east when they reached the river mouth. In deteriorating weather they successfully attacked a bridge across the Imjin-Gan River, completely destroying it. In the course of their attack, they glided down from 1800 feet to 50 feet, and while passing over a hill at low altitude, T/Capt Bekker's aircraft was hit by ground fire. It immediately burst into flames and began to break up, and although he was able to jettison his canopy, he failed to bale out before the aircraft crashed and was destroyed. 2Lt Halley went down to investigate the crash site, and was in turn shot down. He managed to climb to a safe altitude and bale out, and on landing he waved to his two remaining comrades. One of these, Lt du Plooy, remained low to cover 2Lt Halley and keep enemy troops away from him, while 2Lt Green climbed for altitude and called for a rescue helicopter to pick up the stranded pilot. This arrived too late however, and despite Lt du Plooy's best attempts to keep the enemy troops at bay, he had to report that he had seen them capture 2Lt Halley. Shortly after this, he reported that he too had been hit, and although the wreckage of his aircraft was found, he was never heard of again. For his gallantry in sacrificing himself while attempting to save a fellow pilot, Lt R.M. du Plooy was posthumously awarded the United States Silver Star, the highest decoration available to a member of a foreign ally operating under American control. 2Lt Halley spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner of the North Koreans, suffering such privations that following his repatriation, he died in a Durban hospital on 15 August 1954, aged only 24. Only 2Lt Green returned to base safely. This proved to be the worst casualties suffered in a single mission by 2 Squadron throughout the Korean War.
Silver Star (USA)
"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Lieutenant Roelof M. Du Plooy, South African Air Force, for gallantry in action as a fighter pilot with two (2) Squadron, South African Air Force, 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing on a weather reconnaissance mission over Korea. After Encountering below marginal flying conditions and successfully destroying an important road bridge, the leader was hit by intense ground fire and crashed in flames. The element leader's wingman was also hit and forced to bail out, landing successfully at a position twenty-three miles northeast of Kaesong at 1545 hours. While the leader's wingman, flew south in an endeavor to alert rescue facilities, Lieutenant Du Plooy remained over his downed wingman. At this position with the cloud base at seven hundred feet, visibility severely restricted, and enemy ground fire intense and accurate, Lieutenant Du Plooy provided combat air patrol. For forty-five minutes, continuously under fire, he fended off enemy efforts to capture his wingman. At approximately 1630 hours he reported that his ammunition was low and notwithstanding all his efforts the enemy was closing in. A few minutes later, with the rescue helicopter only a few miles away, Lieutenant Du Plooy sent out his last message: ""they have got him; they have got him"". All subsequent efforts to contact Lieutenant Du Plooy were unavailing and the search which was severely hampered by the weather and intense enemy ground fire, did not reveal his whereabouts or that of his aircraft. By this exceptional act of valor, Lieutenant Du Plooy reflected great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Forces, and the South African Air Force. General Orders: Headquarters, Far East Air Forces, General Orders No. 431 (September 11, 1951) Action Date: July 23, 1951"
Husband of Mrs. Bridget Dorothy Patricia O'Neill (nee Waddington). ref. 85 years of SAAF
South Korea
Other Casualties commemorated in South Korea
Other Casualties commemorated in this Cemetery
Grave Reference:
Panel 13

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