Remembering Lieutenant (junior grade) William Mack Holt (1917-1942)


Who was Holt?

The USS HOLT (DE-706) is named in honor of fighter pilot Lieutenant (junior grade) William M. Holt, U.S. Naval Reserve, who perished in a heroic attack on enemy bombers at Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942.

William Mack Holt was born 9 September 1917, at Great Falls, Montana where he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve, Class V-5, as Seaman second class on 4 October 1940 and placed on inactive duty. On the 15th, he reported for active duty for elimination flight training at the U.S. Naval Reserve Aviation Base, Seattle, Washington, and completed the training on 12 November.

He accepted appointment as Aviation Cadet on 26 December 1940. On the 30th, he reported to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida for active duty undergoing training. On 29 May 1941, Holt was transferred to the Naval Air Station, Miami, Florida for further active duty undergoing training. On 16 June he was designated Naval Aviator (Heavier-than-Air). 24 July he accepted appointment and executed oath of office as Ensign, A-V(N), U.S. Naval Reserve, to rank from 3 June 1941. Upon acceptance of oath of office as Ensign he was transferred to Fleet Air Detachment, Naval Air Station, San Diego, California for temporary active duty involving flying under training.

Holt reported for duty to Fighter Squadron Six on 16 December 1941, being a part of the air group stationed on board aircraft carrier ENTERPRISE (CV-6) which made the first United States carrier strike of the Pacific War, was flagship of the force that launched the Doolittle bombing raid against Toyko; and figured prominently in the great victory won by American forces in the Battle of Midway.

On 16 June 1942, Holt accepted appointment and executed oath of office as Lieutenant (junior grade), (temporary), A-V(N), U.S. Naval Reserve, to rank from 15 June 1942.

Holt later joined Fighter Squadron Five on board aircraft carrier SARATOGA (CV-3). He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary heroism and courage demonstrated on 7 August 1942. In a successful effort to protect the Marines on the beachhead of Guadalcanal, he led a two-plane section through vicious interception of enemy fighter planes to down several and turn back others of a flight of about 27 heavy bombers. He continued his relentless fight in complete disregard for his own safety until his own aircraft was shot down and he perished. He was declared officially dead on 8 August 1943.

The Distinguished Flying Cross was awarded with the following citation:

“For heroism and extraordinary achievement as Section Leader in the Solomon Islands on August 7, 1942. Leading a two-plane section of his squadron against a hostile force of twenty-seven twin-engined bombers, Lieutenant (junior grade) Holt, although viciously intercepted by Zero fighters, gallantly pressed home his attacks until his plane was shot down. His courageous fighting spirit and resolute devotion to duty contributed to the destruction of at least five enemy bombers and undoubtedly played a major role in disrupting the Japanese attack.”

Lieutenant Holt also was awarded the Purple Heart Medal posthumously. He is entitled to the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal and the ribbon for and a copy of the Presidential Unit Citation awarded the USS ENTERPRISE.


William Mack Holt
Date of birth: September 9, 1917
Date of death: MIA: August 8, 1942
Burial location: Manila, Philippine Islands
Place of Birth: Montana, Great Falls
Home of record: Great Falls Montana
Status: KIA

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Remembering Ensign Charles D. Davy

Ensign Charles D. Davy returned for further training aboard USS Enterprise and did not join his fellow pilots on Guadalcanal.

I found one interesting fact about an incident that occurred earlier in 1942.

Click here for the source.


Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West

(3) F4F-4 2/13/42

The Japanese attack on December 7, 1941 triggered an immediate need to move military assets to the West coast of the U.S. where they could be shipped to the rapidly expanding Pacific Theatre of Operations. On February 13, 1942 a flight of four U.S. Navy Grumman F4F-4 fighter departed Tucson, Arizona en route to Naval Air Station North Island near San Diego, California. The weather conditions that this ill-fated flight encountered included a fast moving winter storm that brought rain and snow to the mountains of eastern San Diego County.

Into to this maelstrom flew four Grumman Wildcats flown by Ensign Carl W. Peterson in Bu No 5044, Ensign Julian Locke D’Este in Bu No 5046, Ensign Charles D. Davy in Bu No 5049, and Ensign Samuel Kime in Bu No 5053. Only one of the F4F-4’s reached civilization when Ensign Davy force landed on a roadway near the small town of Ramona some thirty plus miles northeast of San Diego and his destination of North Island Naval Air Station. Ensign Davy sustained only minor injuries, but his factory fresh Wildcat was damaged. as result Ensign Davy was written up for negligence, even though he managed to fly through the storm, and was the only survivor of this four plane flight.

More about the crash site here.

On 2/13/42 a flight of five Navy Grumman F4F Wildcats were on a ferry flight from Tucson, Arizona to San Diego, California. Along the way, the flight entered bad weather conditions consisting of extremely rough air and severe icing conditions. Out of the five airplanes in the flight, one of them #5049 with pilot Ensign Charles D. Davy was able to land on a dirt road damaging the plane, but without injuries to himself. Three of the others, #5044 with pilot Ensign Carl W. Peterson, #5046 with pilot Ensign Julian Locke D’Este and #5053 with pilot Ensign Samuel Kime crashed in the mountains killing the pilots. All three of these airplanes went missing and were found at a much later date. #5046 was found on 6/1/52 by two men that were searching for Indian relics in one the canyons. #5044 and #5053 were found on 3/26/57 by two surveyors of the State Division of Beaches and Parks. They found wreckage and skeletal remains of the two pilots in a deep ravine.

The crash site visited on this hike was that of Ensign Julian Locke D’Este’s F4F-3A #5046.

Final word


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Lieutenant (junior grade) Carlton B. Starkes

His name appears a few times in the book.


The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Carlton B. Starkes, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, U.S. Navy (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier- based Navy Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron FIVE (VF-5), embarked from the U.S.S. SARATOGA (CV-3), in action against enemy Japanese forces while deployed over Guadalcanal and Tulagi, in the Solomon Islands, on 7 August 1942. His outstanding courage and determined skill were at all times inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Born: September 27, 1914 at Cleveland, Ohio
Home Town: Churubusco, Indiana
Died: March 17, 1978

Find a Grave

More on him from this excerpt found in the book.

That afternoon low visibility separated the three carrier task forces. Fletcher needed to rendezvous them without breaking radio silence. Lt. (jg) Carl Starkes of VF-5 volunteered to find TF-16 and endured 4.0 miles of thick, low clouds. Missing the Enterprise, he used instruments to grope back through the soup. Ahead loomed the task force. Starkes swooped low over the Sam and dropped a message stating he could not find the Enterprise. A vigorously flashing signal light led him to think the message went astray, so he released a copy. Suddenly he realized with growing embarrassment that he was buzzing the Enterprise. She re-spotted her flight deck and instructed the F4F to land. Facing grinning greeters, Starkes gave the Saratoga’s position. “The Big E” responded with messages for Fletcher and also something less welcome: two SBDs to lead Starkes home. In the next morning news summary, her air officer observed, “A child who knows not its own mother is not so smart.” That chide was nothing in comparison to the ribbing Starkes faced from his VF-5 buddies.



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Remembering Ensign John Maxwell Wesolowski

Information taken from the Internet 

John Maxwell Wesolowski

Date of birth: March 8, 1919

Place of Birth: Michigan, Detroit

Home of record: Detroit Michigan

John Wesolowski became a World War II Navy ace, credited with shooting down seven enemy aircraft in aerial combat.

Distinguished Flying Cross

Awarded for actions during the World War II

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Ensign John M. Wesolowski, United States Navy, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight for shooting down five enemy planes while operating as pilot with Fighting Squadron FIVE (VF-5), from an airfield on Guadalcanal, during the Solomon Islands Campaign, 11 to 19 September 1942.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 315 (June 1943)

Action Date: September 11 – 19, 1942

Service: Navy

Rank: Ensign

Battalion: Fighting Squadron 5 (VF-5)

Distinguished Flying Cross

Awarded for actions during the World War II

(Citation Needed) – SYNOPSIS: Ensign John Maxwell Wesolowski, United States Navy, was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Silver Star for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight while serving as a Fighter Pilot in a Navy Fighting Squadron, in operations against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific Ocean Area during World War II.

Action Date: World War II

Service: Navy

Rank: Ensign

Battalion: Fighting Squadron

This is interesting…

More on  John M. Wesolowski

March 8, 1919 to Feb. 8, 2009 Passed away peacefully surrounded by his children and grandchildren. He was born in Detroit, MI, joined the U.S. Navy in 1941. In WWII, he was a member of the “Fighting Five” fighter squadron, and ultimately received numerous combat awards, including 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses. On Jan. 4, 1944, John married Catherine E. Erickson, a Navy Nurse. Together they raised 8 children. When John retired from the Navy in 1963, the family moved to Saratoga, CA, where he has resided ever since. In 1964, John joined Lockheed MSC, where he worked as an Ordinance Engineer, retiring yet again in 1980. He was finally able to pursue full-time his passion for golf. John is survived by his 8 children: Mary Jo, John, Jane, James, Jill, Jay, Jean and Jeffrey, and his 10 grandchildren: Peter, Emma, Ryan, Graham, Timothy, Corey, Jake, Janelle, Jenna and Megan. Services will be held at 2:00 pm on Friday, February 13, at the Church of the Ascension, 12033 Miller Ave., in Saratoga. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Pathways Hospice or the charity of your choice.



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