1945 in combat

Wally's War

Glen Wallace's War Diary 2

Editor's note: These are the pages from Glen's diaries exactly as he wrote them at the time. He has attached comments to add to or explain the entry.

Wally, Pappert, Coumbe & Godson. 14 Jap planes splashed by these four Corsair pilots.
........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column

10 MARCH 1945
Went aboard the USS Essex. ( CV9 ) this is to be our home on forthcoming cruise - Mog Mog Island



our home . . .

Mog Mog

Mog Mog Island was the location for Navy R&R for fleet personnel when they came in from a combat zone. The beer came in olive drab colored cans and not very cold. However, for those of us who hadn't tasted any adult beverage in many days, it was GREAT!


11 MARCH 1945
2015 While at
the movie a suicide dive bomber went
past the flight deck and
crashed into
the USS
Randolph (CV-15) - GQ (General Quarters)
secured at

14 MARCH 1945
Air Group) received memo from COMAIRPAC commending Air Group 83 on
good work in Hawaiian area.
We had a group exercise and really fouled
up the works.
That's life!

18 MARCH 1945.
Made strike against Kyushu. Lost three pilots, Stevens, Garner and Sigman. (Steve was my division Leader) I shot down two Jap planes... could only claim
one . . . the other a
probable. Was attacked
by about
25 Hamps over Tomi Taki... Scared! Pappert and Coumbe each flamed a Zeke plus one
probable for Pappert. Made
two landings aboard Essex
in F4U.





































































Enemy territory

First Time Out!

On 18 March, 1945,I was launched from the USS ESSEX (CV-9) in a Corsair F4U along with eleven others. Lt. J. J. Stevens led our division of four planes and I was his wingman. The number three slot was filled by LtJg Ed Pappert with Vern Coumbe on his wing. Our mission was

to bomb and strafe two Airfields on the island of Kyushu, Japan and return to the ship. We were the second group to hit Kyushu and figured the Japs were probably

USS Essex CV9
stirred up and waiting for us. We climbed out and leveled off at ten thousand feet. As we approached the beach, I remember suddenly realizing the land we were looking at was Enemy territory and the hairs on the back of my neck raised right up. There was a broken layer of clouds

Coursair on Deck
beneath us. Just as we crossed the shoreline I saw two planes below heading in the opposite direction. Upon looking closer I identified them as Jap Torpedo Bombers.
Since we were on radio silence, I could only wave my hands and signal to Steve, our Leader. I motioned to the left and he nodded OK. We made a diving turn and as I leveled off, one of the Jap planes was squarely in my sights. A squeeze of the trigger and the six fifty-caliber guns literally tore the plane apart. It burst in to flames and headed down. As the other one saw what was happening, he dove for the water at full throttle and took off like a rabbit. Steve hadn't fired a shot or made a sign as we turned back and rejoined the formation. I thought about that for awhile and then the thought came to me that
"My God, I have shot down a US Navy TBM." But then I said to myself, "I saw meat balls on those planes so they had to be Japs." This was our very first combat flight and we all were wound pretty tight. I also later realized that leaving the

Coumbe, Pappert, Pat,(the Skipper) and Wally. Division One
formation was a violation of the "Fighter Code" to never leave the group. I don't remember the names of our two target airfields, but when we arrived at the first one, there were no airborne aircraft in sight. We proceeded to bomb and strafe parked planes, hangars, and runways with no resistance except antiaircraft gunfire from the ground. Then we headed for another airfield and gave it the same treatment with the same results. By then we were pretty cocky, seeing as how this business was so easy and fun too. We even opened up on the radio (big mistake)! Our leader said, "What the hell, lets hit another one on the way back," (another mistake)! Tomitaka Airfield wasn't too far off course so we decided to work it over too. What we didn't know was that 20 Zeros (Hamps & Zekes), were sitting up at twenty thousand feet waiting for us. "Hamp

Zeke (Zero A6M5)
and Zeke" were the US official nicknames for the Japanese A6M3 Type 32 Fighter Plane. "Zero" was the unofficial nickname. We made our approach to the airfield down a little valley and

got rid of all hanging ordnance on the first run — there was no second run! As we pulled up the air was suddenly full of meat balls (Japs), and a wild dogfight ensued. We were caught off guard and at low altitude.

Our standard fighter tactics wouldn't work and it quickly evolved into a wild melee of tail chases — a Zero chasing a Corsair with another Corsair chasing the Zero etc. While our Leader (Steve), was shooting one, I was busily knocking another one off his tail. As I flamed that

one, someone hollered that one was on my tail. Sure enough I saw tracers whizzing by on both sides, so I pulled up into a full-power, straight up, climb until she stalled out and went

Zeke (Zero A6M5)

into a spin. It was a given that one does not intentionally spin a Bent Wing (Corsair), but to me it felt really good until I recovered right back in the middle of the dog fight. That's when I saw Steve's plane smoking and heading out to sea in a shallow dive. I followed to keep the Zeros off his back until he ditched and got out of the plane. I`m not sure how many we got, but Pappert and Coumbe each flamed a Zeke and Pappert also got a probable.

We lost three pilots that day, Stevens, Garner and Sigman. Steve was in the water and swimming around very slowly. Three of us circled him at low altitude with flaps down and each of us threw him a spare life raft, which we all carried. The other two planes finally left but I was reluctant to leave my Flight Leader and kept circling to see if he got one of the rafts, however he didn't even try to get one. I then managed to remove the life raft from my seat parachute and while flying very low and slow, pulled the inflation toggle and threw the raft some distance upwind from him. It drifted right by him but he didn't attempt to get it. We had been

USS Salmon

briefed on the location of the Standby Rescue Submarine so I looked it up on the map and noticed that this one's

code name was "Pal Joey." Approaching the location, I saw it on the surface with a big American Flag flying and some of the Crew on deck. I couldn't make radio contact, so in accordance with prescribed procedures, I lowered the landing gear and flew over in the direction of Lieutenant Stevens. They understood, gave a big wave and headed out on that course — still on the surface! I was impressed by their bravery doing that when so close to enemy shores.

By this time it was getting late so I plotted a course to the ship and headed home. They were waiting for me so they could get me aboard and head out of the wind. As I hit the deck, the Bull Horn squawked for me to report to the Bridge and explain what I had been doing. That was my first combat flight and my "Baptism of Fire," so to speak. Next day we did it all over again on another

mission and, in addition, saw USS Franklin, CV-13, burning in the water on our way home. This was to be our steady diet for the next five

07-Arrested landing

months. The Air Group, (CVG-83), flew 9,982 sorties from USS ESSEX for 39,500 hours in the air. We destroyed 228 Jap planes in the air, with 121 probables and 107 on the ground. We also participated in the sinking or damaging of 265,000 tons of combat vessels, (including the Battleship Yamato), and 77,000 tons of merchant shipping. If we appeared to take death lightly it was because it was necessary to keep from going crazy. When seeing our shipmates being killed day after day, we tried to build up an immunity to it, sort of a defensive shell. 35 pilots and 13 aircrewmen were lost before we would return to the US of A and go ashore at the Naval Air Station, Seattle, Washington, on 14 September 1945. "To make the world safe for Democracy."

LTJG Glen (Wally) Wallace.

In 1990, I received the following note from Henry Sakaida, a Japanese Author who sent me a story about the Kamikaze entitled: "THUNDER GODS, The Kamikaze tell their story." Written by Hatsuho Naito, translated by Mayumi Ichikawa and forwarded by James Michener.


Capt. Wallace -

The Japanese side of your air raid! If the information here is accurate, then it appears that you downed UMENO. It also appears that UMENO and possibly TANIMIZU attacked Lt. J.J. STEVENS, with Umeno causing Stevens to smoke and Tanimizu then chasing him out to sea.


........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column

19 MARCH 1945
Second day of strikes on Kyushu. We damaged a Carrier and Battleship in Kure harbor. I was flying wing on Ham Reidy when he shot down a Mert. Pappert, Coulmbe and I now have a new Division Leader. Ship was under attack all day. One Kamakize nicked #2 Elevator guard rail. Danny Gray made water landing.. We lost three Bombers and one Torpedo crew. The Wasp, Enterprize, Langley, Intrepid and Franklin hit. The Franklin has been burning all day.





19 March 1945 — a close look at

The USS Franklin

On the way back from our strike on Kyushu, we saw the Franklin burning with great clouds of

USS Franklin CV13
Picture courtesy
USS Franklin Homepage
smoke billowing up. Being curious, we eased over to get a good look and were greeted with a furious
hail of antiaircraft fire. The Franklin crew was under great stress and didn't take time to identify approaching aircraft. We got the message and got back on course for the Essex and home.

Editor's Note: The picture shows the Franklin after being hit by a Japanese divebomber on March 19, 1945. There were 835 killed and 265 wounded. After a heroic effort by her captain and crew, she made it to Ulithy on he own power on March 25. She was the most heavily damaged warship in the history of the US Navy ever to make it back to port under her own power. For more on the epic struggle and this magnificent ship, see the USS Franklin Home Page.


20 MARCH 1945
Flew CAP again today...Chased Bogies all afternoon. Saw our AA shoot down one Mert and one F6F. The Enterprise was hit again.

21 MARCH 1945
Flew CAP. Bogies all over - mostly Bettys and Merts,, Murt got a Mert! 42 Bettys, 12 Zekes and 5 Merts shot down by CAP. 281 planes destroyed past 4 days.

22 MARCH 1945
Jettisoned "Tilly.

22 March 1945 — drop it over the side . . .

We lost Tilly

Tilly was the name we gave to a huge motorized crane which could pick up an airplane from the deck and move it or drop it over the side, if necessary. It got hit so many times by plane crashes on deck that it was unusable. We regretfully pushed it over the side.

........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column


23 MARCH 1945
Fighter sweeps on Okinawa... Weather very bad -- solid from 200 to 12000 feet







CAP = combat air patrol
Bogies = enemy aircraft
Betty = Jap bomber
Murt = asquadron pilot
Mert = Jap fighter

When the weather closed in and ceiling 200 feet, we would let down very low and watch for ships masts, circle, and take a heading to the Essex. Real hairy flying with so many planes in the
CV = carrier
BB = battleship
CL = cruiser
DD (or can) = destroyer.


24 MARCH 1945
Fighter sweep... Fired rockets and strafed Yontan Field and nearby town... AA pretty bad..

25 MARCH 1945
Ship refueled... got two letters.

26 MARCH 1945
Strike against Okinawa. Bombed and strafed submarine pens, barracks and warehouses... Two subs sunk. (1000 pound bombs)

27 MARCH 1945
Flew TCAP, (Target Combat Air Patrol), over Kerme Shima... Strafed boats... Marcinkoski Made water landing and was picked up by an OS2U. (Float seaplane).

28 MARCH 1945
Strike on Minami Daito Jima... Dropped 1000# bomb on AA position. Five planes damaged and lost on flight deck this morning. One plane, two pilots overboard. One Marine killed. Refueled...got 6 letters.

No comments
........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column


29 MARCH 1945
Searched for the Jap fleet around Kyushu - didn`t find it. Kenny King flamed by Zeros. Jap plane made run on ship while I was strapped in plane on flight deck...Bomb near miss on USS Cabot. Ham Reidy shot down a Zeke. We got four Marine Replacement Pilots. Coumbe and I got checked out on 20 MM deck guns... (while on standby duty)

30 MARCH 1945
Strikes on Okinawa. Bombed and strafed more sub pens and PT boats. Gil and Harris on a 325 mile search jumped 5 Japs. shot down two of them. I ran out of targets so dropped my belly tank and strafed that.

31 MARCH 1945
On standby all day... Didn`t fly... The Skipper is ailing hardly ever flys anymore. Pappert, Coumbe and I may get a new Division Leader. TT Coleman and Maki each flamed a Jap today... Greek strafed a horse. We lost one Bomber Pilot and two crewmen. (Two planes)

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1 APRIL 1945 (Love Day)
Strike on Okinawa in support of invading troops.
Bombed, fired rockets & strafed. Lahey went down in flames from AA. Torpedo Skipper made a water landing & was picked up by a can. A Jap pilot in an Oscar landed on Yonton Airfield & the Marines shot him when he got out of the plane.

1 April 1945 — Valentines Day . . .

Our Own Valentine

"Love Day" was the code name for the troops to land on Okinawa. Like D Day for the landings on the beaches in Europe. AA = antiaircraft fire.

........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column


2 APRIL 1945
No strike today - refueled - No mail - Rough Sea! Two typhoons in area.

3 APRIL 1945
Strike day. The air group shot down 17 planes - Gunner Way went in the drink. I manned a 20 mm during condition one.

4 APRIL 1945
Strike on Okinawa. Two direct rocket hits on barracks - strafed gun emplacement & boat

5 APRIL 1945
No strikes - refueled & re-armed - NO mail. According to latest rumor Pappert, Coumbe & I may have a new division leader, Gunner Way. Also we are going back to the F6F squad. along with Ham Reidy's division. Cmdr. Southerland welcomed us back so it may not be all scuttlebutt.

6 APRIL 1945
Strike on Kikai Jima - chased Japs all over. I helped shoot one down! The air group. Flamed 6 planes today. Lost one Bomber & one F6F ( Berube ) Several DD's were hit by Japs.
(DD = Destroyer (also called Can which was a nick name because they were as thin skinned as a tin can)

No comments


7 APRIL 1945
We finally found the Jap Fleet - at least part of it. Sunk a Yamato BB- 2 CL - 4 DD's. I flew 5 1/2 hours in an F6F on one hop. The air group shot down 10 planes. Ship under attack by Japs all day. The Hancock hit by a Kamikaze ( 30 killed. ) We lost all four of the Marine Replacement Pilots. One Bomber lost. Pappert, Coumbe & I flew with El Groupo. Had a ring-side seat for the whole show. We got direct hits in the Pacific Ocean with 1000 lb Bombs!





















7 April 1945 — Ring side view . . .

Sink the Yamato

Our Air Group Commander, (CDR Utter), was coordinator for the attack. We flew on his wing at about 3000 feet while he called the shots. First calling in the F6F and F4U fighters to strafe, then the dive bombers and the torpedo planes. I saw one TBM drop his fish and it headed straight for the Yamato, but a Jap can got in its way. Blew the Jap destroyer completely in half. All the ships were firing, and the Yamato tried to hit us with those big 18-inch guns. We could look right down the barrels, and when they fired, it looked like red-hot molten metal coming out of the muzzles. They couldn't get enough elevation to hit us but it was an awesome sight.

The Japanese battleship Yamato under attack by U.S. Navy planes in the East China Sea on April 7, 1945. She sank after being hit by 10 torpedos and five bombs. (National Archives)

Editor's note: Yamato and her sister ship, Musashi were the biggest battleships ever built (the third hull, Shinano, was converted to an aircraft carrier while still under construction but was sunk on her maiden cruise.*) The battleships displaced 72,000 tons with 18.1-inch guns. By comparison, Germany's Bismark displaced 45,000 tons. Britain's King George class came in at 35,000 tons with 14-inch guns. The US Navy's North Carolina and Washington were 35,000 tonners with 16-inch guns. Even the mighty USS Missouri (Iowa Class) weighed in at 58,000 tons with 16-inch guns. There were four of these dreadnoughts: Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

*See World War II, November 2001
"First and Last Cruise of Shinano"

After all the planes had made their runs and left for home, we were the only four left in the area. Some of the ships were on their sides and some were sinking, so our leader had a bright idea: "Lets go in and get a hit on the Yamato before we leave," he said. We were all for it, so we headed in for the final blow, but since we were the only targets in sight, every ship opened up on us, even those on their sides.

It was a solid curtain of gunfire and almost certain curtains for us. Then our leader had another brilliant idea, "Lets do a 180 and get the hell out of here" — which we were most happy to do. We dropped our bombs and headed for the Ship. We landed aboard on fumes because we had been lugging those 1000 pounders for most of the hop.

........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column


8 APRIL 1945
Flew Target Combat Patrol over Okinawa. One attack made on ship by Jap plane - he missed. It seems that Pappert, Coumbe and I are flying for the F6F's & F4U's to. This old ---- has got to come to a focus. Three of the four Marines were picked up!







Have you ever flown a F6F before?

Hellcats & Corsairs

Since we three were qualified in both the Hellcat and Corsair, they didn't hesitate to assign us to fly either

F6F Hellcat folding wings
plane as needed. This was a real challenge as the two planes had different flying characteristics. I remember the first time I was assigned to fly the F6F after flying
the F4U exclusively since coming aboard. One very dark morning I climbed into the cockpit of a Hellcat that was sitting on the catapult, using a flashlight. I started looking the instrument and controls over. The plane handler climbed up on the wing and asked if everything was OK. I said I thought so but would he please point out the bomb arming switch. He looked startled and asked if I had ever flown the plane before. Got it all settled and was catapulted off into the wild black yonder.


9 APRIL 1945
No flying today. Re-fueled & took on ammo & new planes. Got 22 letters ( Feb18 to March 3) Joe knaus ran ran out of gas & went into the drink - 4 ½ hours without a belly tank is too much! Reidy's & our division are going to adopt a new insignia - "The Free Lancers" because we are flying for both squadrons.



9 April 1945 — We never knew what we would be flying

The Purple Shaft

Actually, we called it the Purple Shaft because we never knew what we would be flying from day to day. Carrier operations are not a good place to

Wave off!!
screw around like that. Strange as it may seem, the Corsair landed easier and "pulled less wire" due to the big flaps, which slowed it down more than the Hellcat.
........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column


10 APRIL 1945
Strike on Minami Daito Jima. Bombed and strafed AA positions - weather closed in this PM Danny Gray is lost and has no radio. He must be almost out of gas now. (2000)

10 April 1945 — sound gradually faded . . .

Alone at Night

This is a sad story. Danny Gray was a cheerful little guy whom everyone liked. We could hear him flying overhead in the soup but couldn't help him. He had no radio and had plotted his return to the ships position but had no way of knowing when he was over it. We stood on the flight deck and listened to the sound of his engine as it gradually faded and he disappeared into the dark — to finally exhaust his fuel and land in the sea at night.


11 APRIL 1945
Danny has not been found. Hank Graham, our exec. was flamed by Jap today?? The ship was under attack most of the day. Two planes dived on us. One near miss. It shook up up considerable. Ships A.A. splashed 9 Kamikazes. Don't see how we can take 4 months of this and come out alive


11 April 1945 — Jap suicide planes just kept coming

Trying Times

These were trying times. Nobody could relax, and the ship's crew had to stay at General Quarters (highest state of alert) around the clock. All ship's hatches were kept closed and food was sometimes eaten on station.

We Pilots felt a sense of relief when we were flying, even though that was also rather stressful. I remember seeing one man suddenly lose it and start beating his head against a steel gun mount. There was no relief in sight and Jap suicide planes just kept coming day and night.

........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column


12 APRIL 1945
Flew combat patrol over Okinawa - bogies all around but we didn't get any. The air group ( F6F's & F4U's ) shot down 13 today. Pappert, Coumbe & I are definitely in the F6F sqd. now. At least until the ship gets in more F4U's.–

13 APRIL 1945
Flew target cap at Okinawa-searched for downed pilot.I found part of life raft. Coumbe found and exploded a Jap mine.

we saw a body floating . . .


We were making one or two combat flights over Okinawa every day, and once we saw a body floating near the beach. Knowing the Japs were waiting for a salvage attempt, it was deemed inadvisable to try to recover the body. So, day after day, we would see the body as we flew from the ship to targets on land. Finally, it had disappeared completely. Never did find out who it was.


14 APRIL 1945
Re-fueled - got two letters & a card from my boy. Flew combat air patrol over ship. Tallyhoed one weather balloon.

15 APRIL 1945
Flew T-cap over Okinawa - no bogies - just routine- Ham Reidy was in a sweep over kyshu - shot down 2 planes. Clem Wear got one too. Tomorrow we have the same thing! To hell with that place.

16 APRIL 1945
Started on sweep over Kyushu - got as far as Amamia O Shima ( about ½ way ) when the Skipper's plane went bad. We fired rockets & strafed that island & I escorted him back. Pappert & Coube went on & Pap helped shoot down a Zeke. We lost Bouldin, Wear and Tommy Ward. Wear and Ward went into the water & a rescue mission is out now. Bouldin is a P.W. Reidy saw him on the ground beside his plane with some Jap kids around him. I could only get three guns to fire & Ham only one! Our fleet was under attack all day - 8 ships hit - 2 DD's sunk. The Intrepid was hit. One two engined plane was splashed just now ( 1900 ) Tommy Ward was picked up but Wear couldn't be found. Maybe a sub got him.

17 APRIL 1945
Flew Cap - Fleet under attack most of the day - Our AA splashed three KK"s diving on ships. Rescue mission picked up Clem Wear, up by Kyushu & a night fighter who was shot down last night. Two Intrepid pilots shot down a B-25 The Intrepid is going home.

No comments
........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column


18 APRIL 1945
Re-fueled today - got two letters- One of our bombers spun in during landing - pilot not recovered - tomorrow big day at Okinawa. Ace, ( Lt.Rach ) was killed on take- off this morning. Today we have been in combat one month & have lost 9 pilots in the F4U sqd alone - 17%



suffered more casualties

Corsair Squadron

The Corsair squadron lost more pilots because most of them came from nonfighter squadrons.

Deck launch in rough seas.
They had not been trained sufficiently in fighter tactics before going into combat and consequently suffered more casualties.


19 APRIL 1945
Flew two hops today. The first one was a strike on southern part of Okinawa in support of the big push by ground troops. Bombed & strafed the town of Iwa. We blew it all to hell and set the place on fire... The second hop was a CAP over the BB's shelling the Island. Expecting a big KK attack tomorrow. Clem & Ward are back.

20 APRIL 1945
Strike on Southern Okinawa. Bombed, strafed & fired rockets in the town of Inasomi. Mistook a lot of corngrinders for gun employments. Kincaid just made 2500th landing aboard the Essex. This air group has made over 3000 landings in past 30 days.

21 APRIL 1945
Flew "T-Cap" over ringleader base at Okinawa. The big Jap attack we expected didn't materialize today - probably tomorrow.

22 APRIL 1945
Flew 5 hours air support hop... Fired rockets & strafed,
( 2000 rounds ) trenches, caves, gun employments and enemy tanks near town of Kazamito. 5 Jap planes shot down near task force this afternoon. Last transmission of on Jap pilot just before being shot down was "Banzi." Tomorrow is re-fueling day - looking for lots of mail.

23 APRIL 1945
Re-fueled and re-armed today. Pappert, Coume and I went aboard a DD ( via Breeches Buoy ) for transportation to the USS Bougainville. Picked up 3 F4U's... Got 14 letters.

24 APRIL 1945
Didn't fly today! Bad weather - 0 - 0- . The first time we have failed to aviate because of weather since we started flying out of here.

25 APRIL 1945
Bad weather today but we flew just the same. Target CAP over Cognac Base North of Ie Shima- ceiling 300 ft. Visibility ½ mile.

26APRIL 1945
Bad weather again- got in some instrument flying- bombed & strafed trenches & caves on South Okinawa. Set three houses on fire - looks rugged over there- saw mid-air collision between two bombers.Pilot& Crewmen bailed out & were rescued

27 APRIL 1945
Re-fueled- re-armed- Got 4 letters- Nice weather- Everything quiet.

28 APRIL 1945
Flew CAP over Fleet- Lots of Bogies hit Okinawa. The BG
( Battle Group ) shot down 29 - we had a night attack- total shot down - 32.

29 APRIL 1945
Under attack during afternoon- The F6F's got 3. Lost one pilot. Heard garbled word on the German surrender. One of our hospital ships was bombed 167 killed, wounded & missing.

30 APRIL 1945
Flew CAP oat 25000 feet over base- Routine- no Bogies, no attack. Scuttlebutt has it we are going back to Ulitni the 14th.

1 MAY 1945
Re-fueled today - No mail.

2 MAY 1945
Flew CAP- routine, some friendly planes strafed our own troops on Okinawa - Killed 7 Wounded 17. Bad weather!

3 MAY 1945
Didn't fly - weather very bad- most hops canceled- only CAPS flying. Our room looks like a work shop. Everybody making watch bands etc.

4 MAY 1945
Good weather - the air group shot down 38 Japs today - lost Gibby from our squadron. One DD sunk & a couple damaged by KK's. 207 Japs downed by us since March 18. ( 46 days) TF58 has downed over 1000 planes since April 1. ( 34 days )

5 MAY 1945
Flew air support on South Okinawa, fired rockets, bombed & strafed trenches, artillery guns & AA Positions. They are shooting at us more than usual lately - 5 hr hop!

6 MAY 1945
Re-fueled - got 4 letters - rumor that we won't go back to Ulithi until end of the month.

7 MAY 1945
Shipping strike at Amimi - Dropped 1000 pounder & strafed ships in harbor. Dropped incendiaries on town at Kikai. Quite a bit of AA up there & bad weather don't help. Corsair cracked up on deck- pilot hurt.

8 MAY 1945
Bad weather - nobody flew today- sea getting rough. Heard war is over in Europe - doesn't seem to mean much out here - bet everyone back home is getting pie-eyed. Rumor had it we will go to Loyete the last of this month for re-provision.

9 MAY 1945
Crapped out again today- We have been making gadgets in our room. Lost two very good friends today - Smitty was shot down by AA over Amami. Jimmy Tuckel was killed last nite when taking off from the Enterprise which is cruising right behind us. 0300- The Skipper just left- Everyone ( Pap, Coumbe & I ) D.A.!!

10 MAY 1945
Refueled... got 4 letters.

No comments
........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column


11 MAY 1945
Flew Close Air Support for Marine troops on Okinawa. My plane shot up by ground fire.



The whole countryside was flat!

My Plane Was Hit!

My plane was hit by AA while I was firing rockets and strafing trenches and barracks. Artillery and battleships were laying down a barrage. The whole countryside was flat! We were under attack. We splashed a couple of Japs and other squadrons got more. Bunker Hill was hit by two kamikazes and was badly damaged.


12 May 1945
Flew air support over Okinawa. Had engine failure over front lines. Made dead-stick landing at Youtan Field.

13 MAY 1945
Slept on the ground and ate K rations. Had a bombing raid by Japs. Checked on getting my plane fixed. Saw all the boys from the Bunker Hill. They were going back to the states.

14 MAY 1945
Went up in the hills of North Okinawa. Saw lots of Natives and burned out stuff. I also checked out some caves. Heard later they were Jap soldiers in the caves. Jap planes raided us about dark. Our AA got one but a suicide plane hit a battleship in the harbor. Found a cot in a Marine tent to sleep on. Dust very bad.

15 MAY 1945
Went up to the front lines. Saw lots of dead Marines and Japs... The stink was awful. Bulldozers were covering up the Japs. Had another bombing raid about 0200. Spent most of the night in a

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........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column


16 MAY 1945
It rained all night. No raid by Japs. Saw actual white woman (nurse). Mud knee deep. Saw two planes from the Essex come in. Jumped in a plane and joined up with them. Flew back to the ship. Found out the Enterprise had a bad hit by a Kamikaze and is going home... so is our Skipper.
















I almost became a dead Junior Officer

On Okinawa

I wore my flight suit all the time on the ground. It got quite smelly, but so did the Marines, so no one noticed. I left word with the tower to get in touch with me if they saw any Essex planes come in, then I went sightseeing . I found a cave full of drums of Jap gasoline. I rushed back and proudly reported it to the Marines in our tent. They scoffed and explained that it was of such low octane it wouldn't burn in our Jeeps. However, they did show me how to cook with it by filling a can with rocks, pouring the Jap gas in and lighting it. I also found one cave with stacks of ammo boxes. I brought a case back and again the Marines were ahead of me. The cases were full of cone shaped, brass nose fuses for Jap AA guns. I was shown how to unscrew them and burn out the black powder so they could be used as paperweights. I brought some back to ship.

I was a very junior officer. On my first experience with a night bombing raid by Japs I almost became a dead junior officer. The night sky was ablaze with searchlights, tracer fire, and bomb explosions. To me it was an exciting fireworks display, and I stood and gawked until one of the Marines helped me into a foxhole with his big boondocker boots.

The white woman referred to before was a Navy Nurse on a plane there to evacuate the wounded. She was a blonde and wearing a skin tight nylon Navy flight suit. Everything came to a halt while she was there and for some reason many, many Marines found a reason to be in the vicinity.

After I had joined up with the two Essex planes, it was discovered that I could not raise them on the radio because I didn't know what frequency they were using or the identification call of the day for the ship. So, I just tucked in close and flew wing on them till we arrived in the vicinity of the ship and got the usual burst of AA fire from them. This was not uncommon because everybody on board was so stressed out and trigger-happy they would shoot first and ask questions later. I landed aboard the very clean ship with very clean aircraft in my very muddy plane and dirty flight suit. It sure stood out too.


17 MAY 1945
Flew patrol over Amami-dropped firebombs, strafed and fired rockets on boats and AA guns. Set a plane on fire on the ground. AA getting much worse up there.





Those are paravanes you dummy . . .

New Division Leader

After the Skipper left, we (Pappert, Coumbe, and I) had no division leader. Ole Ed Pappert stepped up and said, "follow me boys, I am the new division leader." This was great because we had been flying together all along and knew each others' flight characteristics very well. It also made us a three-plane division, unless someone was assigned to the #4 "Tail end Charlie" position. Once we were flying CAP over the fleet when someone started yelling that there were two midget submarines following one of the ships. Ed came up on the radio and said, "Those are paravanes you dummy." Sure enough they were — small tapered tanks with fins, which were towed by a minesweeper to explode floating mines.

........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column


18 MAY 1945
Flew 0500 CAP at 25,000 feet. Made strike on Amami. We lost two torpedo planes. My good friend Boatright was flying one of them. Rest of month will be same-o-same-o according to flight schedule..

19 MAY 1945
No fly - refueled- got lots of letters.

20 MAY 1945
Flew target CAP over Okinawa - no Bogies- Bad weather - Ens. Jones spun in- they buried him at 1830 this evening- he was a F4U pilot.

21 MAY 1945
Had the duty! Bad weather- Rough day! The Japs attacked the ships around Okinawa with 35 planes & several submarines. 25 planes were shot down & some of the subs sunk. Some of our ships were damaged but I don't know if any were sunk. Two Jap DE's & one transport were sunk. Guess we go to Leyte for 10 days on the 27th.

22 MAY 1945
No fly - bad weather.

23 MAY 1945
No fly- refueled- No mail. Japs spotted us & we broke off from tankers at noon. Sent strike to Kikai in bad weather- tomorrow we go Jap hunting.

24 MAY 1945
50 Plane sweep on Kyshu ( Japan ) Fired rockets & strafed planes on ground at Ashuri Airfield - Two airborn Zekes splashed - two Pelican planes went down - pilot of one recovered. Got AA blast under my tail and cracked my back again AA pretty thick.

25 MAY 1945
Flew CAP in the worst weather I have ever flown in (4 hrs ) Ceiling ) - to 200 ft. Visibility 0 to 1/4 mile- the Japs attacked Okinawa again - about 40 planes.

26 MAY 1945
No FLY - bad weather - big Jap attack on Okinawa today - we aren't going to Leyte tomorrow. Jap planes landed at Yonton & the crews got out & destroyed some planes before the Marines killed them.

27 MAY 1945
Refueled - got Lots'a mail.

28 MAY 1945
Flew pre-dawn CAP in bad weather. Heard three Japs splashed & someone got shot up by a "Tony" ( Jap Plane) The Task Force has been changed from 58 to 38 with Mc Kane & Halsey in charge instead of Mitscher & Spruance. I hear they're rough boys. We may go to Leyte soon.

29 MAY 1945
NO fly - we are on the way to Leyte. After 79 days at sea they finally decided to let us have 10 whole days off - anchored off the lovely island of Leyte. We all got Cholera shots & feel like hell. Saw our first movie in three months - it was a stinker.

30 MAY 1945
No fly - standby - ships gunners target practice on drones. Lay on flight deck & got sun burned. I hear Leyte has four "O" Clubs!

31 MAY 1945
No fly- tomorrow nobody fly. SCHEDULED FLIGHT OPERATIONS TOMORROW X,. NONE = = = = BIG DAY OFF X ( quoting from the tickertape)

1 JUNE 1945
Philippine Islands
We dropped the hook at 0927 this morning. I missed winning the Anchor Pool by 4 minutes. Didn't go ashore today - will make it tomorrow - beer (cold) found out we have steamed over 33,000 miles since March 14 ( 21/2 months). Coumbe & I have been fishing from the port-hole - didn't catch anything - also have flown over 25,000 hrs.

2 JUNE 1945
Went ashore - Tacloban Beach & "O" Club - drank beer all afternoon & went swimming- saw a lot of guys I knew - received 5 packages.

3-4 JUNE 1945
Repeated above treatment

5 JUNE 1945

6 JUNE 1945

No comments
........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column


7 JUNE 1945
A P- 38 crashed into the Randolph - anchored a couple hundred yards from us. I heard the Hornet & Bennington were beat up off Kyushu - Stateside job- ( Halsey trying to make the headlines again by going through typhoon)





we have done crazy stuff too . . .


The P-38 was flown by an Army Air Force Pilot who wanted to show the Navy how to really fly. He did put on a good show but lost control at low


altitude in a tight turn and spun in, hitting the flight deck of the Randolph. He wiped out many planes parked on deck and killed himself in the process. We all felt sorry for him because we have done crazy stuff like that many times.


8 JUNE 1945
Nothing new- Still loading ammo. Went to Macarata & drank beer. Bought some beads from natives.

9-10 JUNE 1945
More beer


11 JUNE 1945
Submarine alarm. The Bennington pulled in today. She is in sad shape.

13 JUNE 1945
More beer- went to town of Tacloban & looked the place over then to San Antonio - caught a boat to the New Mexico & mooched a ride back to our ship. The whole US Fleet is here now- 8 big carriers and lots of little ones. ( Cruisers, Cans and Subs )

14-15-16-17 JUNE 1945
Still loafing around & drinking beer. Saw lots of friends. Expect to shove off about the 28th. Rumor has it to be an 18 day cruise but plenty rough. Maybe Tokyo

18 JUNE 1945
Air Groups 9-12-17-82 are going back to Uncle Sugar. Also the Hornet. We are now Senior.

19 JUNE 1945
We are all set for another cruise - shoving off in the morning.

20 JUNE to 3 JULY 1945
In hospital

4 JULY 1945
Headed for Tokyo! The Ticonderoga went to P.H.( Pearl Harbor) We lost two pilots ( crashed )

9 JULY 1945
Tomorrow we hit Tokyo - looks like bad weather.

10 JULY 1945
We bombed airfields around Tokyo - no one saw a single airborne aircraft - we lost no pilots- 210 sorties- Good weather - three Japs splashed around task force - latest scuttlebutt, we go home the 19th

14 JULY 1945
Struck Northern Honshu & Hokkaido - sunk 7 ferry boats & other ships - no bogies over target- one Betty splashed over TF. The battleships & cruisers shelled towns along the beach all afternoon. Wonder what the Japs think about that! Weather is cold & wet - we lost no pilots!
(TF = Task Force )

15 JULY 1945
Same targets - 8 planes hit by AA. All pilots OK.

16 JULY 1945
Re-fueled - tomorrow we hit Tokyo again - going after a Battleship.

18 JULY 1945
Still working on Tokyo - weather bad. Dave Horton was killed and one bomber when in.

20 JULY 1945
I'll never believe scuttlebutt again - we sure as hell didn''t go home on the 19th.

22 JULY 1945
The ungarbled word - we go home Aug. 28th - seven more strike days-

24 JULY 1945
Strikes again on Kure Harbor- Northern Kyushu & Southern Honshu. Bombed cruiser. (natori class ) & carrier - airfield & shipping. Coumbe made a water landing after dark in very bad rain squall. Some landed on other ships - Jeeter shot down a "Mert" today. No pilots lost!

25 JULY 1945
More of the same - Reidy & Comstock shot down a Zeke each. We lost one bomber pilot & one F6 F ( Weisner )

28 JULY 1945
Sam Brocato, Huey Batten & W.L. Clark shot down a plane each. Brings our total to 226. We bombed & rocketed cruiser & cans in Kure Harbor - also a hospital ship by mistake. Got rocket hits on carrier at Oita. The 300,000th landing was made on the Essex. Lost no pilots.

30 JULY 1945
Hit Tokyo again -

1 AUGUST 1945 1945
We were supposed to hit Korea (310 miles) tomorrow but it was called off due to typhoons. The ships had AA practice and one of the DDs was hit with a 5 incher!

No comments
........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column


4 AUGUST 1945
My birthday -- spent it between Tokyo and Iwo Jima.. The Korea deal was on again and is now off again.. Everything SNAFU.





his cousin had become an ace in


Pappert was a relatively serious type of guy. Once, while we were reading our mail, he calmly announced that his cousin had become an ace with five planes shot down. Coumbe and I were quite impressed and asked if he was flying in the Navy or Army. Pappert said he was flying for neither, but rather, THE GERMAN AIR FORCE! Now since Ed was of German descent, we never doubted him and ask what kind of planes he bagged. "Russians," he said, which seemed logical. Some time later (much later), he told us that he was just joking and that it wasn't true at all.


7 AUGUST 1945
Heard of Atomic bomb being dropped on the Japs.

8 AUGUST 1945
Strikes on Japan canceled due to weather. Damn that scuttlebutt... We didn`t go home as planned again

it could happen to us

Inventory Duty

During a lull in flying, the Skipper would designate some of us for inventory duty. This meant cleaning out the locker and inventorying the personal effects of our buddies who did not come back. It was a sad duty but we didn't mind doing it because we knew it could happen to us at any time.

........................... The Original Diary text is in this column
The modern text to by Captain Wallace to explain each entry This Column


9 AUGUST 1945
Strikes on Japan.. Coumbe was shot down by AA.. Bucky Harris was killed when a 1000 pound bomb exploded on his plane in mid air. One bomber went straight in... no survivors. Huey Batten in an F6F and two torpedo planes ditched and pilots were picked up by a DD. Ship was under attack all day by suicide planes.. Several shot down.. One DD hit. Same air plan for tomorrow as today... no relief in sight.

10 AUGUST 1945
More strikes - Coumbe was picked up but Clem Wear spun in and was killed trying to throw him a raft. We hear the Japs want to quit.

No comments


11 AUGUST 1945
No strikes.. Typhoon in area... Coumbe is back aboard.

13 AUGUST 1945
Strikes on Tokyo - 10 or 12 Japs splashed around the Fleet. Three barrier crashes on deck.





























nicely suntanned, hale, and hearty


On 9 August, 1945, Lt (jg) Vern Coumbe dove his F4U for a 500-pound bomb drop on a freighter in the Ominato Naval Base. Upon pulling up, his plane was hit by AA fire in the oil cooler, and the engine froze up at once. He ditched the plane five miles south of the Jap base. He climbed into his raft and awaited developments. After squadron planes departed, he fought to hold his position against a strong west wind thinking that a rescue mission might arrive that afternoon. None did. During the night he napped for about 45 minutes. At 0300, when it was getting light, he found that he had drifted to about one mile off the shore of Nakanosawa. He saw a beach and a wooded area. He paddled furiously to the beach, where he took his raft into the woods and settled down for the night. Before settling down, he buried his ring in the sand.

He said he didn't want the Japs to get it if he was captured. At 0600, he was half asleep when he heard planes approaching. They were F4Us from the Essex led by Lt. Tripp. Coumbe ran down to the beach, fired signal

Wally, John, Jack & Benny after a friendly dog fight in Hellcats.

pistol, and waved his white scarf. Ensign Jones spotted him and reported his position back to the ship and to the CAP over the Task Group. Coumbe climbed into his raft and paddled out against a strong wind and held a position 300 yards off shore for three hours. When he became too tired he went back ashore.

About noon, Lt Reidy arrived with three F4Us and one F6F from Essex, and two OS2U float planes from the USS North Carolina. Lt (jg) Wear flying an F4U was in the process of dropping a raft when he made a very steep turn and crashed in the sea about 400 feet off shore. He didn't survive. Coumbe started swimming out into the bay (he`s a good swimmer) toward the rescue plane. An OS2U piloted by Lt. Jacobs landed and tossed out a line. When Coumbe was within 25 feet of the plane, the pilot put one foot out on the wing and the other foot on the seat. The plane lunged in the surf and his foot kicked the throttle open causing the plane to go

OS2U Kingfisher

scooting off, knocking him overboard. By this time, artillery had opened up from the Jap base, two shells landing within 50 yards of the

two men. The scooting plane nicely drew away Naval base gunfire so the second OS2U piloted by Lt (jg) Oliver, could land and pick up the two pilots. The runaway plane was strafed by Lt. Reidy and left sinking.

The rescue plane arrived at the USS North Carolina at 1615 and, Coumbe arrived aboard Essex next the morning — nicely suntanned, hale, and hearty.

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