On 1 September the Saratoga sent three more VT-8 TBFs to Espiritu Santo. In VF-5 rumors ran rampant. One had them being committed piecemeal as replacements to CACTUS. The next morning came the parting of the ways, when Fletcher decided to send twenty-eight F4Fs to Efate, leaving nine to protect the ships. Some pilots were assigned, others volunteered, and some cut cards to see who would go. Eleven pilots remained on board as the VF-5 Detachment:
Ensign Presley was one of them.
Lieutenant Bill Robb’s party of 101 VF-5 enlisted men transferred to the Monssen (DD-436) and Grayson bound for Efate, where they would service VF-s’s fighters, while Lt. Alex Barbieri’s forty-five enlisted men and the squadron’s heavy gear would be dropped off at Tongatabu. The morning of the 2nd, twenty-eight F4Fs under Lieutenant Commander Simpler took off for Efate about 100 miles southwest. That afternoon Lieutenant Larsen brought fifteen TBFs and two SBDs back to load torpedoes and other gear, then returned to Espiritu Santo. One SBD ditched on takeoff. Thus a total of twenty-eight F4Fs, twentytwo SBDs, and fifteen TBFs deployed ashore.
The Saratoga Air Group appeared at a very crucial time for the defense of SoPac. It had become quite obvious, at least to the local commanders, that the aircraft committed to embattled Guadalcanal proved totally inadequate to ensure its security. Even before the landings, Maj. Gen. Millard F. Harmon, SoPac Commanding General (CG), strongly urged the War Department to send additional planes, including at least two squadrons of the Lockheed P-38F Lightning fighters that enjoyed the high-altitude performance so highly sought for CACTUS. His recommendations received vigorous agreement from Undersecretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal, on an inspection trip to SoPac.
There is very little information on Ensign Presley…
Wayne C. Presley
Date of death: MIA:
World War II
Burial location: Manila, Philippine Islands
Home of record: Corning California
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 Wayne C. Presley, United States Navy, for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Pilot of a Fighting Squadron in the Battle of Midway, 4 to 6 June 1942. As one of an escort group assigned to cover the approach of our dive bombers, Ensign Presley maintained continuous flight for an hour over the Japanese invasion fleet, thereby insuring an unopposed approach for our attacking planes. Later, during this battle, while participating in combat patrol, he sighted an enemy torpedo plane approaching the U.S.S. YORKTOWN and assisted in daring pursuit and eventual destruction of the enemy plane, which was shot down in flames. His skill as an airman and his courageous perseverance and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 312 (March 1943)
Action Date: June 4 – 6, 1942
Battalion: Fighting Squadron
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