Bass was born in Roanoke, Virginia on 22 September 1915, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy on 24 February 1941. In May 1941 he was designated “aviation cadet”, and after aviation training was appointed ensign on 5 December 1941. Bass underwent further flight training and reported to aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) in early 1942.
Assigned to aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) during the pivotal Battle of Midway, he flew as part of the combat air patrol on 4 June 1942, and, although his plane was damaged, shot down an attacking Japanese dive bomber and a fighter. For his important part in the battle Bass was awarded the Navy Cross.
Assigned to Fighting Squadron 5 on board Saratoga, Bass again flew in the combat air patrol during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons of 23–25 August 1942. As he and his fellow pilots protected Saratoga, Bass was shot down and reported missing in action. He was presumed dead on 24 August 1942.
A ship was named after him.
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