April 1, 1944: Once again VF-31 was assigned to fly CAP over the Task Force while aircraft from the other carriers flew to the target to engage enemy aircraft. Launching before dawn the divisions of VF-31 were sent to intercept incoming bogies which would invariably turn out to be returning friendly fighters and dive bombers. Two divisions of VF-31 were sent to Wolei and Yap Islands on escort, photo recognizance, bombing and strafing missions. Cabot's radar reported a contact approaching the Task Force. The division comprised of Lt. Wirth, Ens. Stewart, Ens. Hawkins, and Ens. Hayde who were nearest to Wolei island. The bogie was a twin engine Betty bomber that was sent out on recognizance patrol. After a chase lasting several minutes Ens. Hayde was credited with downing the enemy plane.
July 27, 1944: Strikes launched against Yap Island. A TBM flown by Lt. Russell was hit by flack while approaching the target. The fuel tanks were breached and the aircraft set ablaze. He succeeded in dropping his four 100lb bombs on the target and headed out over water where Russell was able to hold the crippled Avenger in the air long enough for the crew bail out just off shore. The shore batteries opened fire on the downed plane crew but were unable to lower their guns enough and they fired over them. The covering F6Fs from VF-31 proceeded to make short order of the shore batteries and flew overhead until an OS2U Kingfisher from the cruiser USS Columbia (CL-56) arrived and picked up the wounded men. Pilot Lt. (jg) Russell along with crewmen AMM2c Bennett and PhoMlc Webster, were taken to the destroyer USS Brown (DD 546) and returned to Cabot. All three men were awarded Purple Hearts.
July 28, 1944: VF-31 was again assigned for a strike on Yap island. Due to engine failure of his F6F (#40280), Lt. (jg) Edwin Free had to turn around and made a water landing 15 miles from Yap. He was picked up and returned later in the day by the Destroyer USS Bell (DD 587). Returning from the Yap Island strike Lt. Mulcahy was forced to ditch because of flack damage to his aircraft after returning to the task force but was picked up unharmed and returned to Cabot.
Just a piece of trivia. The CVL 26 "Cabot" was salvaged for scrap in Brownsville, Texas just a few years ago. The Bridge superstructure was saved but now sits in a field. Someone was going to make a museum exhibit with it but ran out of money. KHayes
Posts: 1 | From: Houston, Texas | Registered: Sep 2006
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