Today is D-2 day for the occupation of Saipan. The strikes have gone off on schedule all day without much opposition being met. A couple of Bettys and a zeke were all that were found. Targets are A.A. and C.D. gun positions. We lost one very nice boy today. – Leonard of VB-10. He was shot down by A.A. when pulling out of his dive on one of the ships in the harbor. Holden and I had the duty tonight. We expected the same activity as the Lex had last night (many boggies around after midnight) and the C.O. said we would be launched as soon as the first bogie showed up. We stayed in the planes until 2015 and then returned to the ready room. Turned in there at 2100 expecting a call about midnight.
VB-10 USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6)
LT J.G. LEONARD
Lieut. James G. Leonard, Island City, Oregon
Everyone swallowed hard two or three times when the objective was made known. We were going to hit Truk - the enemy’s mighty naval bastion in the Central Pacific, the giant staging point for aircraft and shipping supplying the enemy’s bulwarks to the south - remote and foreboding.
Those first fighter sweeps and bombing strikes over Truk will long be remembered by those who took part in them - dog fights all over the sky, sinking and exploding ships and others racing to escape from the big lagoon and anti-aircraft fire thicker than any of us had ever seen before.
The first fighter sweeps and flights tangled with a large group of interceptors over the lagoon. “It was our first real chance at the Japs,” one recalled, “and we were glad they were waiting for us.” In a matter of minutes 14 Zeros and other enemy fighters were shot down, another probably destroyed and six were damaged. The Hellcats were looking for more.
Pilots of Bombing and Torpedo Ten followed with repeated strikes against shipping in the lagoon. What targets! Big cargo ships and tankers everywhere. That partly made up for the fact that major units of the Jap fleet had fled. But it was no cinch. There was plenty of machine gun and five-inch fire protection. Bombing was a bit erratic at first, it was recalled. Everyone was too busy at the time to think much of it. Hits began to increase as they steadied down to the job of destruction.
By nightfall of the second day, Torpedo Squadron Ten got nine ships, including one destroyer, and had damaged 10, while Bombing ten scored two sunk and 11 damaged, including a destroyer and a cruiser which was later sunk by our battleships.
Fighting Ten chalked up 29 planes shot down, one probably destroyed and 10 damaged. The three squadrons accounted for 45 planes on the ground.
Lt.(jg) Hubert F. Grubis, Youngstown, Ohio and Lieut. James G. Leonard, Island City, Ore., who later was lost in the attack on Saipan, drew first blood for Bombing Ten, sinking a large tanker in Truk Lagoon. Masters and Lt.(jg) Hilbert H. Dawson, Dunn, N.C., blew up a large freighter.
Highlight of the second day at Truk was Torpedo Ten’s night bombing attack. Forty-five minutes of masthead bombing left Truk Lagoon a mass of sinking and exploding ships. It was estimated that eight cargo ships and tankers were sent to the bottom and five others seriously damaged.
The night attack, together with day operations, gave each of the following one or more ships to his credit: Eason, Nelson, Moore, Cummings, Lieut. Russell F. Kippen, Gloucester, Mass., Lt.(jg) Charles E. Henderson, Gibson Island, Md., Lt.(jg) Clifton R. Largess, Jr., Worchester, Mass., and Lt.(jg) William H. Balden, Harrodsburg, Ky.
Ensign Joseph W. Jewell, Jr., Summit, N.J., who on February 22 sank a freighter in the raid on Saipan while on detached duty with another Air Group, and Lt.(jg) Shannon W. McCrary, Alameda, Calif., damaged destroyers while Lt.(jg) Ernest J. Lawton, Jr., Palmer, Mass., crippled a Natori-class cruiser.
During the retirement from Truk, Jap night bombers endeavored to attack. Harmer caught one near the task force, set one engine on fire and chased it 70 miles. There was no attack that night.
A U.S. Navy Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless of Bombing Squadron 10 (VB-10) pictured in the landing pattern above the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) during operations in the Pacific. Note the bomb rack and YE radar antenna beneath the starboard wing. One of the last two SBD squadrons to operate from U.S. fleet carriers during World War II, VB-10 flew from the deck of the Big E during the period January-July 1944, and participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19-20 June 1944. (Wikipedia)
U.S. Navy Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless dive bombers of Bombing Squadron 10 (VB-10) pass over the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) prior to recovery aboard the carrier following strikes against Palau, 30 March 1944. One of the last two SBD squadrons to operate from U.S. fleet carriers during the Second World War, VB-10 flew from the deck of the “Big E” during the period January-July 1944, and participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19-20 June 1944. (Wikipedia)
More photos on the Douglas Dauntless here:
Feel free to add comments or to suggest corrections on errors that I made transcribing.
Tomorrow, June 13 1944…
No call came last night…