WWII Marine Pilot

WWII Marine Pilot

I have just finshed another issue of your outstanding newsletter. I have to say that I, a soon to be 70 year old Marine (1953-1957) am very impressed with today’s crop of Jarheads. As others have said, they are as good ,if not better Marines than we were.

I wanted to tell you a story about an under 21 year old pilot- My dad served with VMF-312, the Checkboard Squadron during WWII- My dad joined right after Pearl Harbor in 1942 when I was still in grade school. He was 32 and they called him “Pop”. He was a radio repair man for the squadron’s F4U Corsair’s. VMF-312 was the “Checkerboard Squadron” and played a big role in that infamous hell hole- Okinawa. The squadron went ashore after they had secured Kadena Field and went to work. I wanted to tell you about this young Marine pilot my dad told me about- I think his name was Klingerman or Kleinman. Anyway, the Japs were hitting everyone hard with kamikaze attack and a lone Jap observation plane was up at the limit of propeller planes at 40000 feet or so over Okinawa. 60% of the island was still in Jap hands and the real blood hadn’t yet been spilled as the Shuri line hadn’t yet been broached. (if you want to read an eye-popping, horror ridden account of war- read -“Tennozan-The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb”. It will make you think as we lost more Marines on Okinawa than at Iwo and it was a slow grinding kind of war of attrition replete with one horror after another. Getting back to the observation plane- this young pilot managed to just get his Corsair up to that altitude and went after the Jap- The Jap was a two seater and had a gunner in the rear seat.( a zeke??) The Marine fired his gons but nothing happened.,They were frozen from the cold. While in position he could see the rear gunner aiming at him but nothing happened there either. Same reason-frozen. He could see the Jap hammering on his machine gun with his gloved hands. Since it was imperative that they stop this Nip because he was likely calling in the kamikazes to juicy targets, the Marine cinched up his seat belt and tucked away his extra large cojones and proceeded to cut the tail off the Jap plane with his propellar. He knew that his chances of getting back weren’t that hot but he did it and the Jap went down. But he did limp back with half a prop on one side (bumpy I’m sure) and landed at Kadena. He was awarded the Navy Cross that day. Had he gone down in Nip land, he would have been instantly executed yet he went for the Jap and succeeded- It’s guys like that who make the Corps what it is- Semper Fi!

I enclose a US Goverment Photo of him,

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