Marine Corps Aces

Edward 'Bud' Shaw

Edward 'Bud' Shaw

Top-Ranking Shaw
  of Hellhawk Fame
   Has No "13" Fears

(Lieutenant Edward O. Shaw, one of Spokane's war heroes, was interviewed shortly after he returned from the South Pacific by Staff Sergeant Wallace R. McLain, a marine corps combat correspondent. Sergeant McLain's story follows.)
    MARINE CORPS AIR DEPOT, MIRAMAR, Calif., Dec. 17 [1943]. - No. "13" holds little fear for First Lieutenant Edward O. Shaw, 23, of route 5, Spokane, holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross and one of the top-ranking marine fighter pilots.
     A member of the marine corps famed "Hellhawks" squadron 213, Lieutenant Shaw has returned from 13 thrill-packed months of overseas service and with a "bag" of 13 Japanese planes.
    Moreover, his was the 13th plane to contact the enemy over Bougainville's Jap-held Kahili harbor on July 16 and in the ensuing encounter he sent three fighters spinning into the sea,

Protected Bombers.

    "We were protecting our dive bombers in their runs on the target when the Zeros attacked," Lieutenant Shaw said. "One Jap made a pass at me and as he pulled off I got in a full deflection shot. My fire raked his plane's belly and must have punctured the fuel tanks. He fell off with the whole bottom in flames and went down burning.
     "There were individual dog- fights all over the sky, and before the action ended I managed to single out a couple of Jap float planes and send them down in flames."
    Many of the flyer's missions were made during the Bougainville campaign and in covering the marine push on New Georgia and Rendova. His squadron operated from the Russells and Munda, but it was for Guadalcanal-based exploits that he recently received the D. F.C.
    "On June 30," his citation states, "Lieutenant Shaw was a member of a flight of fighter planes which attacked a formation of nine enemy float planes and in the action which followed he personally sent two of them crashing into the sea. On July 15 his flight intercepted a force of eight enemy twin-engined bombers and in determined attacks he sent two of them down in flames.

Teams Up.

     "He then teamed up with another fighter to make a simul- taneous attack on a third bomber to send it crashing into the sea. On July 17 he accounted for two more enemy fighter planes and again on the next day another Zero went down in flames before his guns. Thus in four separate engagements he destroyed eight enemy aircraft."
    In all of his 300 hours of com- bat flying. Lieutenant Shaw only once got "a couple of holes in the wing tanks." This he modestly attributes not so much to his flying ability as the healthy regard in which Jap pilots hold the new and deadly Corsair fighter.
   A son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold A. Shaw of Orchard Avenue, he attended Washington State college at Pullman through 1941.
Lt. Edward Bud Shaw, marine corps ace

Lt. Edward Bud Shaw, marine corps ace

Misty-Eyed Marine Pals of Captain Shaw Tell of His Daring in Raids on Japanese

    They may have been American flying demons in the air war over Guadalcanal and New Georgia, seeking to knock down and kill every Jap flyer who opposed them, but when they talked about their pal, the late Marine Captain Edward O. (Bud) Shaw of Orchard Avenue, they were just three misty-eyed young men, blinking hard to keep back the tears.
    The three were Major D. P. Frame, commanding officer .of marine fighter squadron 213, Mojave, Calif.; Captain W. J. (Gus) Thomas. Eldorado, Kan. and Captain J. L. Morgan, Arlington, Texas, who came to Spokane with 18 other marine corps pilots and several enlisted men to pay last respects to the man they knew like a favorite brother.
    Captain Shaw, a fighter pilot ace with 13 Japanese planes to his credit, was killed Monday when the plane he was testing near Mojave failed to come out of a power dive. A military funeral was scheduled for 3 p. m. today at Westminster Congregational church with Dr. Joel Harper officiating.
    His body was returned here yesterday In a transport plane escort ed by 17 Corsair fighter planes from squadron 213.
    "No matter what situation we might have.been in; he always had a grin or a chuckle when it was over," said Captain Thomas. "I have never known, or hope to know a person who was more considerate of others. Because he was engineering officer, he not only flew the planes, but he knew the peculiarities of every ship in the squadron. He was a great favorite with the ground crews, and he loved to sit down and talk over others' problems, regardless of whether they were young green pilots, ground crew, chiefs, mess sergeants, or others connected with the outfit.
    "One time when he and I were tent mates after we had moved in on Munda, our fox hole was right between our cots. One night the Jap raids were really flourishing. Seemed like they'd be over every 15 minutes. It was after we had awakened and jumped into our fox hole some half a dozen times that Bud said: "Heck. I'm going to stay right on my cot. I'd sure be a casualty, get a broken toe or foot, or leg jumping in and out of this hole so many times.
    "He was still wearing his big grin this morning over Bougainville when our Corsairs were protecting a group of bombers. About 50 Zeros sneaked up on us from behind, and it was every flyer for himself. We got separated in the clouds but he got two of them, and he was happy as a kid who had been given a new toy. Neither of us ever expected to see the other again."
    Captain Morgan, tall, rangy Texan, swallowed half a dozen times during his chat about Captain Shaw. "He had a keen sense of humor," he said. "When his eyes would begin to sparkle and he'd get a silly little grin on his face, we all knew some of his wiry humor was about ready to break out.
    "For instance, Bud would say: "You fellows never knew I once held an executive position at Felts field in Spokane. Well, I did. I spent all my spare time at the field working for little or no pay, then finally they put me on the payroll as a grease monkey, wiping off ships after they came in."
    Major Frame said Captain Shaw "was idolized by every one connected with the marine fighter squadron."
    He reported Captain Shaw was killed in the same ship which 30 days before Captain Thomas power-dived at great speed.

Edward Shaw

Newspaper Clippings and Family Scrapbook

By , May, 2001. Updated July 1, 2011.

Edward "Bud" Shaw, USMC, shot down 13 Japanese planes in the Pacific. His family, like many servicemen's families, collected press clippings about their brave young man and wrote about his exploits in letters. The following press clippings were kindly sent to me by Jon Pickens, Shaw's nephew. My thanks also to Barbara, Edward's sister, who preserved the clippings, and to Jon's wife, Pamela, who "kept the ball rolling on this project."

I have included the newspaper articles on this web site, both to honor Shaw himself, and also to provide a little "sense of the era," by reproducing the them as close as possible. I've preserved the original capitalization (or lack of capitalization, as in "marine corps") and also the articles themselves, even though the bit about sleeping with .45's to protect their single eggs seems to be a bit of a "stretcher." The articles and one photo also refer to Wilbur J. Thomas, the top ace of VMF-213, with 16.5 aerial victories. (A close reader will notice that some articles refer to Shaw as "the marine corps first ace." That's a mistake; Marion Carl was the first Marine Corps ace. Possibly the writer meant that Shaw was the first pilot of VMF-213 to reach ace status, of perhaps the first ace from the Spokane area.)

The editorial from the Spokane Daily Chronicle is particularly touching and evocative of the spirit of that age, which like Shaw himself, apparently has passed on.

Fighter Pilot Sleeps With Gun by Side to Guard Precious Cargo Till Breakfast

[approx. Jan. 1944]

    The inside of the sleeping quarters was as black as your hat; the fighter pilots were sleeping, but with their 45s handy. They were not expecting intruders but they were ready for a mass attack from friend or enemy.
    They were at war and protecting as valuable a "cargo" as they ever had to watch over in a year of action in the south Pacific.
    "What were you guarding the squadron payroll?" we asked Marine Fighter Pilot Lieutenant Edward O. Shaw, Spokane's No.1 ace of World war II, who has 13 enemy planes to his credit.
    "Payroll, nothin'," he replied. "We were guarding a fresh egg apiece. We had put in three bucks each the afternoon before when a fellow came around to collect a fund for 'condiments,' whatever they are. That evening we were each given a fresh egg and had to stay up most of the night to make sure the egg would be there in the morning,
     "The parade to the cook's shack the next. morning was really something to see. Each of the pilots had an egg securely cupped in his hand and the way he walked he wasn't taking any chances on an accident. The cook prepared each egg separately with the pilot standing by to give exact instructions from the time it hit the frying pan until it was put on a plate.

    Lieutenant Shaw, with a genuine south Pacific suntan, and a husky voice that's the result of a change in climate, returned home yesterday after more than 13 months against the enemy.
    It was "just an ordinary tour of duty" in which "nothing exciting" happened, he said.
    "You mean to say," we asked him, "that in 13 months and shooting down 13 planes, three of them all in one day, that nothing exciting happened?"
    He blushed, nodded his head and said that was about right.
    Getting information out of him was like trying to pull a camel through the eye of a needle. It was hard, that is, until we started asking about the Corsair fighter he flew. That was something he didn't mind talking about.
    "There's a plane!" he said. "It's the best fighter in the business. It won't do acrobatics like a Jap Zero, but it will outfight any Jap plane that ever got in the sky."
    First rejected by the navy. It was the marine squadron with which Lieutenant Shaw flew that proved the Corsair's quality. It all started over Rendova on June 30 when Shaw's outfit knocked the Japs out of the air by the dozens, Shaw himself getting two Jap float planes and a Zero. Lt. Edward O. Shaw
    Never shot down, Shaw's plane was shot up only once on September 11 when a Jap pilot, put three cannon shells into the wing. The plane started to smoke and Ed started the run back to base because he thought his ship was on fire. It was only carbon dioxide smoke, he discovered, very shortly, and turned to get back in the fight. But it was over by the time he got there.
    Lieutenant Shaw, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold O. Shaw, Orchard Avenue, is a graduate of West Valley high school. He expects to be home until mid-January. Then he is to report to a base on the Mojave desert.
Shaw and Wilbur Thomas

Edward Shaw and Wilbur Thomas

He flew as a test pilot at the Marine Corps base in the Mojave Desert (El Centro, I presume). The wartime articles imply he was flying Corsairs. He couldn't pull out of a dive, crashed, and died - aged 23.

Tues., Aug. 1,1944.

Spokane Daily Chronicle

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    Who shall be short-sighted enough to measure a life by the mere ticking of a clock?
    Captain Edward O. Shaw was but 23 years of age, yet he had lived richly. Deprived of the privilege of living out his years in peace and happiness, which is the birthright of every American boy, he still must be counted among those who have made much of existence.
    When the young marine fighter pilot ace was killed yesterday in a test flight in California he had to his credit 13 enemy planes shot down in aerial combat in the south Pacific. Among the first to throw back the Japs at Guadalcanal, he had been reassigned to instructor duty in this country.
    It would be folly to try to disregard the pain of such a leave- taking. And yet in this experience, which is common to us all, there is the solace that in his morning years Captain Shaw had found the opportunity and had had the courage to serve his fellow creatures as few are granted the privilege to do. When fate strode down the ranks of young service men in its inexorable way and singled out its man for the inevitable rendezvous with death it was not pointing at a pawn. In young Shaw it was singling out a man who had chosen his own course upon the checkerboard of nights and days, who had gone out to meet destiny unafraid.