By Stephen Sherman, Apr. 2008. Updated July 28, 2011.
ENLISTED COMBAT AIRCREW ROLL OF HONOR
NAVAL & MARITIME MUSEUM
Aboard: U.S.S. Yorktown CV 10
November 11, 1997
Admiral Flatley bestowed upon me the honor of interviewing the Combat Air Crews coming aboard for an Induction Ceremony into the Roll of Honor. In todays world, young people have little or no knowledge of the sacrifices young men made in WW2, the Korean War, and soon will have little memory of the Viet Nam War.
Admiral Flatley is well known for his efforts to instill unrevised history, especially Naval History, into the minds of many young people, and with the cooperation of the local school system, and our Volunteers, we think we are at least starting to do this.
This opportunity I was given, to interview these men honored today, has been an extremely proud day for me. I know Admiral Flatley will get the following stories told to me, via audio tape, somehow into the hands of young people. Not only young people, anyone who reads the stories of these men, cannot help but feel they have witnessed through the words of these men , a part of history.
I know I was unable to get to every man honored this day, even though I tried my best. However, the stories below will not only speak for the men I interviewed, but I am sure for all the others.
These men were not only fliers on carriers, but also a helicopter gunner, and men who were crew members of planes sent out from many bases. They had one thing in common. They went out to find and destroy the enemy, risking their lives not only from an enemy, but the mechanical failures that caused their planes to crash. They were all Americans fighting for and, defending their Country.
We must not forget those young men who never returned. They remain thousands of miles from their homes and loved ones, in some Sea, or on some lonely Island.
One such young man was AMM1/c Bruno Gaido. While aboard the Enterprise CV-6, as a Japanese bomber attacked the ship, he jumped into a parked SBD dive-bomber on the flight deck, and manned the .30 cal gun. He then poured rounds into the oncoming bomber, assisting the other gunners in its destruction. This act of heroism was not the last in this mans life. At the Battle of Midway his plane was shot down, he was captured by the Japanese, then summarily executed by being weighted down and thrown over the side of the Japanese ship.
Many others died out there, some captured and executed as was Bruno Gaido, others killed in action when their planes were shot down, some died of wounds or they were lost when their planes crashed, and some were lost, and never heard from again.
As the plaque on the hangar decks says:
KNOWN BUT TO GOD
These stories have been transcribed from audio tapes, and I have not changed the wording in any way. They are the words from the men involved.
Jim Verdolini RM2/c U.S. Navy 1943-1951
NICK COONEY AMM2/CVT 30 TBF
U.S.S. BELLEAU WOOD CVL 24
All our torpedo planes were looking for a small Japanese convoy, out in the China Sea. We vectored and unfortunately, I will say unfortunately, we found them first. We went into our attack plan and our fighter plane escorts dive bombed from heights. And we torpedo planes split into two sections, and went in low from each side to get the enemy there.
There were seven ships. There were three DE's and four tankers. And as we vectored our squadron about 100 feet off the water, and when it came time to attack, we turned in. And, we took a very bad hit right thru the entrance to our TBF. Just after our pilot released his torpedo. This torpedo got a tanker midships, but I could not even verify it because I was down in the lower part working on the radioman who was literally blown apart by the shell.
He was laid open on the left side, and he just bled to death within two minutes. Our hydraulic lines were shot out and our tail hook line was shot out. So we pulled up and away, and looking back down we could see a couple of ships on fire, and steam rising from the one that we had hit. And of course we limped back to the carrier with another torpedo plane as escort who went under us and around us just checking where the hydraulic fluid was coming out and everything.
So, as we approached carrier area I just got down there and wrapped rags around my hands to release the tail hook. We made a long slow approach and got ready to land. And that's about a quickie on it.
ROBERT L. FRENCH AL1 VP 22 P2V NEPTUNE
January 19, 1953
We were shot down by ground fire. We made a ditching with 13 man crew. There were several of us hit. The first technician, the radar man was very seriously wounded, we got one 11 man life raft, which was half burned. It had two sections. And we had 11 men hanging on to it, with the most critically burned man in the raft itself. Two of them got out of the airplane, and drifted off, we don't know where.
We were approximately 8 miles off shore at the time of ditching. I got a position report out and we had a good search and rescue underway, and we were picked up within about 5 hours by a Coast Guard PBM out of Sangley Point, Philippines. The swells were about 16 to 20 feet, and the pilot made a good landing, a good open sea landing. We recovered 11 of the 13.
Upon takeoff the port wing, there are two different versions, but anyway he lost power and the port wing began to dip and whatever he did in the cockpit he immediately reversed it and the right wing dipped, and hit the water, and we went under. The wing tore off I exited out where the wing was torn off. I came to the surface and my good Navy training paid off. I was beating the water as I came up, and it was afire, an oil fire, gas fire. I went back down under, and escaped from underneath the burning oil, came up to find a mattress.
I floated on the mattress for awhile, and another fellow came by, a Coast Guardsman, came by with a life raft that had been dropped by other search planes in the area at the time. We survived that until about 2 o'clock the following morning when the U.S.S. Halsey Powell, destroyer came in and plucked us out of the water, and we got back with 6 of our original crew and the Coast Guard lost 5 out of their 8.
It was a bad day at Black Rock, but I am a survivor to tell the story best I know how.
HARRY R (JES) JESPERSEN ARM2/C SB2C
U.S.S. HORNET CV 12 BOMBING SQUADRON 11
In October 44 we left the Hornet to make a strike on the Philippines. We were very badly shot up over there during the strike. We managed to get back to the Hornet, but we crash landed on the flight deck.
My pilot at that time was Ed Wilson, now a retired Admiral was really Gung Ho, wanting to go every day, so next day we went on another strike same area of the Philippines, around Clark Field.
Once again we got all shot up, a big chunk of the tail was missing. We did not make it back this time, we ditched off the Philippines. We were picked up by the Mansfield eventually, and got back aboard the Hornet a couple days later.
That's about it.
JOHN E CLARK ARM2/C AIRGROUP 22 TBM
U.S.S. COWPENS CVL 25
We were going out to engage the enemy. We were flying, we were just about at the point of no return on our fuel. A night fighter pilot spotted it, the Japanese, and I'll never forget the clouds, those mushroom things, they fired those mushroom things.
We went in there and what I had to call out the range. The class we sunk was the Mogami or something like that. It was a cruiser we sunk, yes. We used torpedoes to sink it. My job was to call out the ranges, and it was I remember at 1200 yards you would holler, one two and then mark. And he would release the torpedo and that's when we sank the cruiser.
You don't forget things like that.
None of us got hurt, my pilot, my gunner. We were aboard the Independence but she got torpedoed, then we went aboard the Cowpens.
KENNETH W. ROCHEBLAVE ADR1 PBM MARTIN
NIGHT PATROL PHILIPPINES
(NOTE: When Mr. Rocheblave gave me his story, I found later that the recorders batteries had gone bad. I tried to locate Mr. Rocheblave the next day, but could not find him again. Carl B Shilligo also was not recorded properly, but I found him the next day, and re-recorded Mr. Shilligo.) My apology to Mr. Rocheblave.
CHARLES G. FRIES, JR. ARM2/C TBM
U.S.S. YORKTOWN CV 10
I was a tail gunner on a TBM and I suppose that the thing that intrigued me most was in April 1945 when we went after the what they called the last remnants of the Japanese Fleet. Which comprised the battleship Yamoto and a cruiser, a Nagami class, and I just found out recently it was the Akagi. And there was a two screen destroyers in the same area.
When we went to look for them it was an overcast day, and it was up to the crews of the bombers to find them. Which of course we did. When we came into range, the idea was to split the squadrons into two different sections. They wanted the battleship badly, and if necessary everybody would hit it. They wanted to bring it down.
It turned out, that was not necessary. They got the wagon, and she was severely damaged, ready to sink and the difference in the two ships was the armor plating.
In consequence we were briefed on how to change the depth setting on the torpedo so it wouldn't go under the cruiser and would hit it at the appropriate point and put a hole in it. We were told a little bit hairy because we told there were two wires attached to the bulkhead in the bomb bay. We could only get in there up to our armpit, so you were feeling your way. You did not have any real knowledge of what you were doing. We were told the wrench that turned the indicator would change the depth. It was right next to a piece of arming wire on the bulkhead to the fuse of the torpedo.
If you pulled the wrong one, my understanding was that the air stream coming through could actually arm the torpedo. I suppose if it were anyway hit in any way it could be a problem to us.
That we accomplished, and we went into the cruiser. There was a lot of flak from both ships and destroyers, and we were pleased to see the cruiser go also. Later there was one destroyer down too, we had one pilot who's torpedo hung up and, he had to make a couple subsequent runs. He got the torpedo off and he got the torpedo so we got three of them out of the four. As far as we were concerned, the Japanese fleet was no more.
The thing that intrigued me most was as a young kid, we were so elated to see those things go. The wagon rolled over on her side and went under eventually and the cruiser slipped up into the air, bow first and then slid back down into the water like it was a toy.
Your first feeling was relevant to the Pearl Harbor attack, one of elation. We felt like we were getting even. However that was soon followed in my particular case by a great feeling of sadness. We didn't know at the time, as you can recall everything the enemy did was a big joke. It turned out that they had a very good fighter plane, and they had the best battleship in the world, the biggest and best, and it is no more.
And that is just about it.
Oh, the men that were in the water. We made a few passes, we had a camera that was in my plane. Unfortunately the ones I took malfunctioned and did not come out. However there are many pictures in our part of the archives, and I have a book at home. It shows them.
It is strange to see all the men in the water, and wondering to this day if there was any survivors. If there were I would truly like to talk to them if possible and get there side of the story. At this point in our lives, where we are all in our middle seventies, is that with war it is the young kids that you send. I don't know who starts them but it is not a pleasant thing when you consider all those fellows that did not make it were somebodies son, the same as we were, and they were only kids too doing what they were told to do.
So in this point of your life I guess there isn't any malice, or hopefully not.
And that's about it for that raid.
ARTHUR C HURRELL ACMM USS SANGAMON CVE 26
On this particular mission, we were attacking an island south of Okinawa. Immobilizing their airfields so they couldn't attack the operations at Okinawa.
While on one these attacks, I was flying as an aircraft air crewman. Pilot was Lt. Cagy, we were on a bomb run on the airfield when a message came over the air, this is 203 I'm ditching, this is 203 I'm ditching. Lt. Cagy called me and said Hurrell see who that is and where that is. I said that is Lt. Warren. He said, well find him. I said I would have to turn the turret. Fine, turn it, he said, find him. I found him, and I told Lt. Cagy he is at 2 o'clock. He said, well follow him in and find out where he is going in.
Well Warren flew the ship, it was on fire, he flew it about 1/2 mile off the shore of this particular Island, landed it in the water. Lt. Warren got out, the gunner looked like he got out, the bomb bay was open and it looked like Delajay(sp)(radioman) did not get out.
They got into a life raft, and the plane sank. The gunner made two attempts to rescue the radioman, but he could not get to him. Air Sea rescue was called in. They were sending a PBM because a submarine could not get in that close to shore. In the meantime the Japs were firing 5" shells at them, not quite reaching. The PBM came in I would say, about 20 minutes later. They swooped down, picked the both of them out of the life raft, slashed the raft so it would sink, did not even stop to cough, and saved the two of them.
MICHAEL M. GLASSER AMM3/C TBF
U.S.S. ENTERPRISE CV 6
OCTOBER 26, 1942
BATTLE OF SANTA CRUZ
After we took off on that morning, it wasn't too much later, we were intercepted by a group of Japanese Zeros. And it resulted in the aircraft I was flying in, being shot down.
The Pilot and the radioman, unfortunately were not able to get out of the airplane. I did, I bailed out, and later on the following morning of October 27th, I was picked up by a Japanese destroyer. That was the end of the war for Michael Glasser.
This particular destroyer that picked me up was called the Matagumo and I found many many years later that it was the same destroyer which the number one inductee in this honor roll, Guido, the same destroyer, being weighted down with his pilot and thrown overboard. So obviously I was much more fortunate. I spent the rest of the war in Japan.
After we were liberated, got home very early after the war and stayed in the Navy and retired in July 1961, as an Aviation Chief Machinist Mate.
While on the destroyer, they were interested in getting information from me.
At the time there was the skipper of Torpedo 10, he also died in that battle, and his turret gunner did too. His radioman bailed out and he was captured by a different destroyer. And there were two pilots from Fighting 10 , Al Mead and Dusty Rhodes.
The four of us including Tom Nelson the Torpedo 10 radioman, we all got together when the destroyers put into the Island of Truk. None of knew that the others existed. We all told different stories and it didn't go too well.
Well, on the destroyer that picked me up, while we were still underway, before we put into Truk, the ones who were questioning me, told me that there were others captured, and I didn't believe that. So they put me thru a ceremony back on the fantail of the destroyer, and said that since I refused to tell them anything, and obviously was lying I was going to be executed.
The Master at Arms drew his sword and in the mean time they put me in a white robe and whatnot and had me kneel on a grass mat. Then the one that was telling me this, was also the ships physician. This was a squadron or flotilla leader, and the doctor as far as I knew, was the only one who could speak English.
He was interpreting the destroyer skippers ceremony, but he apparently gave the word to end it, and the doctor told me that they were going to spare my life.
I found out much later, after the war, as the result of War Crimes trials, the skipper of that destroyer was executed.
C.L. CHRISTENSON ADC PBM
PATROL SQUADRON VP 32 VH1
JULY 28, 1943
U BOAT 359
The incident I am going to tell you about today is the sinking of the U boat 359. Which occurred on July 28, 1943. I'm going to start out telling you a little about my history of VP 32.
I went to VP 32 in early 1941 and started flying PBY's. We were patrolling the Pacific protecting the Panama Canal. Then the squadron was transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And this is where we were stationed doing anti-submarine work.
On one fine day in July we were sent as a ready crew to San Juan, Puerto Rico. And, that evening we got word that there was a surfaced sub in the windward passage. We took off and sighted this sub very shortly and made an immediate attack. Dropping four depth charges. Apparently we looked back and only two of them went off, and the sub was still there. The third was apparently a dud, but now they assume and it has been written up in the reports that the fourth depth charge landed on the deck.
Because the submarine came to a complete standstill. It wasn't but a short time that that one went off on the side, and sank the sub.
We went in for a second run. All we had was machine guns, and they did open up on us and we received 187 holes in our plane. But fortunately we did make it back to San Juan.
Our pilot, Lt Kenholtzer was given the Air Medal and all the rest of the crew was given a Commendation. I hope this is of some interest to somebody somewhere.
LEO H BURROWS ARM1C TBF VT 8
U.S.S. BUNKER HILL CV 17
This has to do with the 1st Battle of the Philippine Sea. This is about the 19th of June 1944.
We had information that the Japanese fleet was out, but the Admiral did not want to take the carriers out chasing the Japanese fleet because our main objective was to protect the troops in the invasion of the Mariana's. So one night we decided to launch a TBF at 2 o'clock in the morning and they would fly an all night search in the sector that they thought the Japanese fleet would be. Well, some of the guys in our Ready Room started to worry about it, but I told them to forget it, because I flew with Lt John Chunk (sp), and I knew that this type of a search was right up Johns alley. As it came to be, at 2 o'clock in the morning they launched two planes, going on the search. We both had wing tanks on. When we got in the air, the other plane couldn't get it's wing tanks to function. So it stayed home, and we went off on the search by ourselves.
We searched for 5-1/2 hours but found absolutely nothing. We didn't find anything, but at least we were able to eliminate where the Japanese fleet was, and that afternoon about 3 o'clock, they found the fleet, and the 1st Battle of the Philippine Sea developed. We did not go on the flight, because when we got back to the carrier around 8 o'clock, we had to hit the sack, and when the flight was launched to make the strike we were still in the sack. At least I was anyhow.
John and I flew 46 missions on the Bunker Hill and the U.S.S. Wasp. And for this I was awarded the DFC and seven Air Medals.
DAVID J CAWLEY ARM1/C SBD AG10
U.S.S. ENTERPRISE CV 6
I was a gunner in the SBD Squadron aboard the Enterprise, and I went to the South Pacific in October of 1942 and remained basically aboard the Enterprise until 1944, when they had the 1st Battle of the Philippine Sea. The Mission Beyond Darkness, and flew with Jig Dog Ramage who went on to become a famous Admiral.
And we led our squadron, 12 planes in the 1st Battle of the Philippine Sea. And flew six or six and a half hours on June 20th 1944, and when we came back from that attack and tried to get aboard the Enterprise and there was a big fire on the deck, and in the darkness I found this ship on radar, and I could tell there wasn't even anyone in the landing pattern that night. And I directed the skipper to fly over to this ship we and landed in the pitch dark aboard the Yorktown.
And, it was an emotional thing, because the Yorktown didn't get a single one of her own planes back. She launched half her air group and never got any of them back.
As a matter of fact, I think she only got two planes back. They were two SBD's, us and another one from the Enterprise. This is my third time to set foot on the deck of the Yorktown, so it's sort of an emotional thing to me.
RAYMOND ST. PIERRE SGT GUNNER USMC
HUEY HELICOPTER ICOR
The most notable one was when we got the Bronze star along with the Air medal when we extracted some besieged reconnaissance team, pretty well surrounded.
I stood out on the skids of the helicopter and emptied my weapon. Reached down and we got them all safely out. About 8 to 11 of them, we got them out of there.
JOHN F LEONARD AMM1/C VB 102/VPB 118
One of the interesting flights was over Cabinia Mirandi(sp). There was a Japanese radio station, we did not know it, but it was fortified with Japanese Zeros'. We made a single point attack. And we were hit by the Zeros'. We were able to get out of there, but I don't know how.
But we were unable to bomb out the station. Two days later my skipper went over the same place. He bombed it out, but was damaged and shot down, and all hands were killed.
He got the Congressional Medal of Honor for that flight.
Another flight on combat tours with Privateers that was my plane captain. I was a tail gunner.
When we attacked in July 1945, we managed to sink 4 Japanese vessels. And shore installations were damaged. When I received my DFC and Air medal.
I am very glad to receive this award today.
SHERWIN H GOODMAN AOM2/C TBM
U.S.S. COWPENS CVL 25
OCTOBER 26, 1944
BATTLE OF LEYTE GULF
The morning of October 26th in Task Group 38.1, and we had been called in to try to catch the Japanese fleet after they had practically annihilated Taffy 1 Group at Leyte. Halsey had gone North with the big fleet. We had pulled in for refueling.
We didn't take off that night because we were just too far from the action and we we wouldn't have been able to get back. So next morning we took off loaded with torpedoes.
Five planes from our squadron were with the group. Finally after three hours in the air, we finally found the Japanese fleet disappearing to the West in Lingayen Gulf and we attacked. We were assigned to hit a cruiser that was on the screening course of the battle ship Yamato. The five of us made our torpedo runs, and obviously we must have been successful. We got 3 hits out of the 5 torpedoes that were launched and, onto the cruiser Mashira. She stopped dead in the water, and then the photographic planes that stayed around after we left found the ship had sunk. We found out later, that aboard the ship was an Admiral in the Japanese Navy.
We finally got back to our ship and as we landed and taxied up the deck, we ran out of gas. We were out about 5 hours and 30 minutes but most of the time we were so loaded, we were using gas at a quick rate.
My pilot Leo Meecher was here with me today. He sponsored me and radioman Ed Clark. And he was with us, and found it to be a heck of a good party.
CARL B SCHILLIGO ARM1/C PB4Y1 LIBERATOR
Probably the proudest thing in my collection at home is my Certificate signed by Chester W. Nimitz for one of my decorations, the DFC.
I was flying a PB4Y1 Twin tail, not the Privateer single tail . The Liberator. I was in the Navy for 50 months and flew with VD3. I was decorated 10 times, one DFC and 9 Air Medals.
We were attacked by 36 planes and we shot down 17 of them. My plane shot down 5 of the 17. That's all I have to tell you.
The Ceremony today was great.
ALVIN KERNAN AOM1/C TBF AIRGROUP 6
I flew in Torpedo Squadron 6 aboard U.S.S. Hornet which sank off Guadalcanal in October 1942.
I'll tell you how I got my Navy Cross. I was flying again in TB6 off the Enterprise at the landings at Tarawa, and the Japanese were coming down at night to attack us with torpedo planes. And Butch O'Hare and the Admiral, Radford, put to together a plan to launch the first night fighters off our carriers, and they used the torpedo plane that I was in which had a very primitive radar set in it, to track us to the Japanese planes then the fighters were supposed to attack. But unfortunately we got separated from the fighters, and they got lost and we attacked instead.
Shot down two or three of the Japanese planes, but unfortunately later in the night Butch O'Hare was killed. After that they gave us all the Navy Cross, which I was very grateful.
This is Alvin Kernan again. I just want to put a plug in for my book "Crossing The Line". Published two years by the Naval Institute Press, which I describe all my experiences in the Navy beginning with Boot Camp before Pearl Harbor, and Pearl Harbor right up to Okinawa and dropping if the Atomic Bomb.
(Note: I just read Kernan's book. Fantastic!)
CHARLES E KATELINEK ACCM PB-1
FLEET WING 2 VPB 133
O.K. while we dispatched to Iwo we were flying missions to Honshu and the Jap Bettys came over on June the 1st. We still had control of Iwo, but they still made the night and dawn bombings.
I was unlucky enough to be there at the wrong place and the wrong time. But no big problem, they patched me up and sent me back out. I am called a survivor. I was wounded in the thigh, just bomb shrapnel. That's the way it was then. But the bottom line, it all worked out. You didn't have to be there if you didn't want to be. Just like the submariners, it is volunteer, and if you didn't want to do it you don't have to. It is something you have inside you, tells you to do these things.
I have enjoyed today.
MARK A HARDISTY AOM1/C TBM(F)
U.S.S. HANCOCK CV 19
I was a turret gunner. Coast of Japan.
This particular instance, we were after the remaining Jap fleet. The ones able to go out and attack our invasion forces. There was a Jap cruiser, a heavy cruiser, the Aoba, and it was in the Kobe harbor, surrounded by anti aircraft guns. Our intention was to sink it to get rid of it, so it wouldn't be a hazard to the invasion force.
My pilot Lt. D. Temple was the section leader. So we had the privilege of going down first. We were carrying four 500# bombs, and my pilot always loved to get a hit. In fact, the results of his hits, he was awarded the Navy Cross.
In our dive shortly after releasing the bombs, we were hit by a large caliber anti aircraft shell. Which took a tremendous hit into the starboard wing, a hole you could walk through. It put the plane out of control. We were too low to bail out, when we leveled off, so I had one hell of a pilot. He was able to horse that plane out to the waters edge, there we crashed into the sea.
We were so close to shore, that small arms fire was able to even fire out at us. Thank God, I was able to get out of the turret, got the raft out, my pilot he got into the raft. But my radioman Janskow, trapped down in the bilge. We had some very trying moments there till he popped to the surface. We all three got in the raft. As I said, they were firing at us from the shore but it was an offshore wind. If you have ever been in a raft when the winds blowing it scoots the raft across the water. Of course we paddled like hell, and this radioman of mine, a big husky fella, when he got on the paddles you would think we had an outboard motor on the damn thing. Because away we went out to sea, getting out of range of anything in the way of firing.
O.K. We sweated it out, and kept paddling to get further out to sea, but the current was taking us down the coast. And as we looked down the coast we could see that the land jutted out. Which meant that before the next morning. This was a pre-dawn flight, so we hit em very early in the morning. We spent the day paddling that raft but knowing that the current was going to take us into land that night. None of us said it we didn't have to say it to each other. We knew we weren't going to be taken alive, we were all armed, guns, knives things like that.
But, there was no hooperah about taking the damn thing. We were just going to do what we had to do. But, all day long, we sweated out, but just at dusk over the horizon came a puff of smoke. And I thought well, maybe it is a Jap ship, if it is, we would probably have surrendered to that, knowing the civilians would eat us alive. But, I fired up the 30 caliber revolver I had with tracer ammunition, and sure enough they saw it.
Well, in they came, and oh God what a wonderful, wonderful thing it was. It was a destroyer, American destroyer. The U.S.S. Benham. Well, when we went down, Duke my pilot had given a Mayday, but none of our fellow pilots had seen or heard the Mayday, but from another carrier a fighter pilot had seen us go in, and he had notified the Fleet, the Flag that we were down. But the Flag did not notify our ship, not knowing who we were who was down.
Of course back at ship, they didn't know. So, when this destroyer came in, they made a broadside pulled us aboard. We didn't know how weak we were from being just that 12-18 hours, it felt like forever. Anyhow we went aboard the Benham, and the fleet was leaving out and the Benham had to chase the Fleet, and they victimized and our radioman did not know what they gave us, but blanko we went. They stripped us, strapped us down in a bunk in the bow in the Chief's quarters. But we went out in the middle of the night, I did drowse a little bit, but what ever the Corpsman gave us it, can't remember whether it was a shot or pills. Next morning, I realized why they strapped us in. The destroyer was going into heavy seas. The destroyer was leaping, almost clear out of the water, and almost threw us out of the bunks.
Well it, at flank speed burned up it's fuel and heated up it's boiler room so that it got so hot. It finally got back to it's sister Tomcat destroyer. Tomcat destroyers range out 100 or more miles from the Fleet, as radar pickets. It then transferred us by breeches buoy from the Benham to the U.S.S. Monson. And then the Monson under forced draft, flank speed, caught up to the back of the Hancock that next evening.
And who was waiting for me at the stern of the Hancock was not only the skipper of the squadron, but a very beloved man that I will long remember, my plane captain, Dick Wartinger. And that's how I won my last Air Medal.
TOM POWELL AMM1/C TBF TORPEDO 10
(AS TOLD BY ARNOLD OLSON)
I am representing Tom Powell who was an air crewman in Torpedo squadron 10 on the U.S.S. Enterprise CV 6. Which deployed from Pearl Harbor on the 16th of October 1942. And on the 26th of October they became involved in the Battle of Santa Cruz. Tom Powell passed away on the 5th of January 1997, in San Diego, California, and a Memorial has been placed in his honor at the Navy Memorial Center at Balboa Park, at San Diego by the U.S.S. Enterprise CV 6 Association.
Tom was also very much involved with the Air Group, not only at the Battle of Santa Cruz, as an air crewman, but also during the Naval battle of Guadalcanal on the 13th, 14th and 15th of November, when the Enterprise was the only aircraft carrier that was still operational in the Pacific, to protect the marines on Guadalcanal.
And they intercepted a Japanese Task Force coming down to support 11 Jap transports with 13,000 reinforcements for Guadalcanal, They departed from Noumea, New Caledonia, on 10th of November 1942 on the orders of Admiral Halsey, to go out and intercept this unit, an enemy Task Force that was approaching Guadalcanal. The Admiral on board the Enterprise at that time was Admiral Kincaid. The Air Officer was Cdr. John Crommelin.
And they agreed due to the damaged condition of the Enterprise which occurred at the Battle of Santa Cruz, they preferred not get the Enterprise involved, in the hot action circumstance at that time. So they launched a major portion of Air Group 10 to go out and attack this enemy force that was approaching Guadalcanal.
And they did, and not only an attack on the battleship Hiyei, which had already been damaged the day before by some other ships, and by other aircraft, but before the day was over they had sunk the battleship Hiyei. Also they attacked the Japanese cruiser, which I believe was the Kinnagasa. And happened to put a bomb down her stack with one of the dive bombers and that took care of that one. Then, they began to go to work on the 11 Japanese transports along with other Marine air groups from Guadalcanal.
In two days the 14th and 15th of November, they completly destroyed the additional reinforcements which were approaching Guadalcanal. About six weeks later, why Admiral Yamamoto began withdrawing all Japanese forces from the Guadalcanal area.
This concludes, some of the primary list on Tom Fowler.
The Enterprise was not relieved in that area until the 1st of May, in which he returned to Pearl Harbor on the 8th of May 1943. Then he also put in a tour on the Saratoga with VT 13, and but I don't know what he got involved in with the Saratoga, but he sure had a handful on the Enterprise. And one of our most respected air crewmen, by all who served with him in that Squadron at that time.
My name is Arnold Olson, and I am the Public Affairs Officer for the U.S.S. Enterprise CV 6 Association.
RUDOLPH VALESEK AOM2/C TBM(F)
(AS TOLD BY REAR ADMIRAL "DOC" FREEMAN)
U.S.S. WASP CV 14
OCTOBER 10, 1944
NAVY & MARINE CORP MEDAL
This is Rear Admiral Doc Freeman. I am going to tell you a story that goes back to World War II, October 10th 1944, when I was flying TBFs, with my crew, gunner Rudy Valesek and my radioman Bob Perry. We had gone on a combat bombing mission. We were flying off the U.S.S. Wasp, on a bombing mission on Naha harbor. And as we rolled in on our dive, we had very severe anti aircraft fire, and about half way down we got hit.
I turned the airplane back out towards the East side of Naha. Heading out to the beach, and about the time we got out over the Ocean, she quit. We landed there in the water. And Rudy climbed out of his turret, I was getting the raft out. Our radioman was hurt and hit in the back end of the aircraft. Rudy went in and got him, and pulled him out, and saved his life.
And we wound up in a rubber raft, went aboard U.S.S. Sterlet, which is a rescue submarine who came and picked us up. We did a full war patrol with the U.S.S. Sterlet that got 15-20,000 tons shipping, and one of the things about Rudy's tour on that was that he got to man the 5" gun in a surface action, while they kept me down in the wardroom and wouldn't let me know what was going on.
It was an interesting tour, and Rudy I think was a real hero with all this, but not only that, in Manila Bay he got a Zeke and a half, when I was real deep trouble on a torpedo run on a ship in Manila Bay.
Thank you for the opportunity to tell this story.
STANLEY WHITBY ARM2/C SBD (KIA)
(AS TOLD BY LT COL USAF ROBERT WHITBY..BROTHER)
NAVY-MARINE CORP MEDAL
It was my brother Stanley Whitby, who received an honor today. At the time my brother was shot down, I had already spent 8 months in a German prison camp, due to being shot down in a mission over Germany.
I believe that my brother knew what had happened to me, and he flew approximately 20 missions with his first pilot, and they were shot down, and he rescued his pilot after being adrift in the Ocean for some time.
At that time he had about 20 missions. I believe it was on his 30th or 32nd mission that he was shot down, I believe near Formosa. They never recovered from their dive.
I learned this after I was released from prison camp in 1945.
DONALD P. MEYER ARM3/C TBF(M)
U.S.S. MONTEREY CVL 26
We started into Kure Naval Base, to hit the Tone, a heavy Japanese cruiser. We were waiting for another carrier to send their group with their dive bombers, torpedo bombers and fighters to take out anti-aircraft positions.
We were about 20 miles away from the target. We waited up in the air for a good half hour or three quarters of an hour, however at this particular point we could see the ship sitting in the distance. The squadron leader kept calling for the other squadron but they never showed up, so we said we couldn't wait any longer. So, we started our dive from about 20,000 feet, and went on down we dropped bombs from 2000 feet, and pulled out of our dive about 250 ft above the water. And, we got credit with sinking the ship. There were just 9 torpedo bombers, and we got credit for sinking the Tone. We picked up a hole in our control surface on the tail, big enough for two people to stand in.
But, all the crew members got back safely, and no one got hurt.
ROBERT L GIULIANI ARM2/C TBF
U.S.S. MONTEREY CVL 26
In July 1945 our squadron made a strike against an electrical plant in Tokyo. And three of our planes got lost and we could not find our own carrier. So, we are flying around and we missed all the rest of the gang, the fighters and we were in a pitching rain storm, terrible.
So we were going on, and we did not have enough fuel, and we said, well we gotta ditch three planes. I turned on the old radar which didn't work very often, but by golly it picked up something at 30 miles. 30 miles away I told the pilot I just spotted something on the radar screen so get ahead of these other guys, cause our radio had been shot out, and we couldn't contact the other two planes that were with us. So we got up over them and signaled them to follow us. They came behind us, until we got within 12 miles of the blips on the radar screen.
One of the other pilots thought he knew where he was going, so he got up over the top of us and I told my pilot, no sir I said, lets keep going, and he got ahead of these guys. And by golly the best sight I ever saw in my life. We flew over these ships and by golly all of a sudden they turned the lights on and it was the U.S.S. Shangri-La.
It was the Flag Ship of Pacific Fleet at that time. The first person I talked to when I got out of the plane was Admiral McCain. He said come on up here, so I climbed up on the bridge up there, and he took off raincoat, and here he was an Admiral. I think I was more scared when I saw him, than when we lost out at sea. But the funny part of it was, when we hit the deck and landed our engine stopped . If we had gone another couple of minutes, we were goners.
That is my story.
IRWIN M SMITH ARM3/C TBM TORPEDO 34
U.S.S. MONTEREY CVL 26
I'm going to relate to you an incident that happened on the 10th of August, 1945. This is little dingy Smith, my pilot and I were standing on the fantail of our ship watching our crews being returned, by breeches buoy who were picked up on the morning strike. We had been shot down over Atsugi Army air field at Tokyo.
I had been seeing all my friends coming back aboard. And, I turned to my pilot and said, Pappy in all the times we had flown together, you had never once discussed procedures for bailing out of an aircraft. I said, can you please tell me what we're going to do.
He said son, putting his arm around me. Just look out your port hatch, when you see me go by, jump!
MELVIN RAY SCHULTZ ARM2/C SB2C
U.S.S. RANDOLPH CV 15
AIR GROUP 12
FEBRUARY 17, 1945
My pilot was Lt. Alan Lindstrom.
My incident to remember occurred February 17, 1945. It was the second day of the 1st carrier based raids over Tokyo. Our target was the Tatakowa factory.
As we approached at high altitude with our canopies open, freezing our total bodies out, the pilots had cabin heaters, and closed canopies. It sounded like it was going to go forever and I checked, the pilot said 15 minutes to target, two hours later I got a call saying 10 minutes to target. And we survived by pounding our hands and feet against carpeting. In fact one of our crewmen came back with a severe case of frostbite.
We went into our dives, and as we were pulling out, an explosion occurred on the port side of the aircraft, and I saw with my peripheral vision came thru slamming me up along side of the head and shot my searchlight off, on my mae west.. We began to loose power and were battling and being off our position. We continued to fly and to join up, and do battle up the coast. In which the time Japanese aircraft broke off.
No water ever looked blue, and beautiful to a sailor as it did when we got out over the sea. We made it back towards the carrier, and at that time we realized there was something wet on the side of my head and I put my hand up to see, and it was covered with blood.
I had been quote "nicked". We landed aboard and I went to Sick Bay and got taken care of.
You may call this a day to remember.
One of the items that none of us will never forget was on the night of March 11th, 1945 at Ulithi, when half the crew was at the movie which A song to remember, the life of Chopin was playing. That was a night to remember. I can't remember if it was a Betty or Frances but as we were leaving the show, and the rest of the crew were coming forward, on the hangar deck for the second showing, we took the Frances in the number # 3 radio shack, and from that point on we were fighting fires, moving planes and all the damage.
We were able to get repaired in harbor and go back out for the Okinawa campaign about one week after the invasion date.
POOR IS THE NATION THAT HAS NO HEROES.
SHAMEFUL IS THE NATION THAT HAVING THEM, FORGETS.
Source: from a defunct Geocities website.