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Yap Island Mission Loss—23 February 1945

The following plane was lost on 23 February 1945 on a mission to Yap Island. I would greatly appreciate anyone's help to locate additional information regarding the information listed below.Submit additional information, updates, newpaper articles, pictures, and supporting documents to: pat@missingaircrew.com

Date: Plane Type: Unit: Crew Names: Supporting Documents:
23 February 1945 PBM-3D Martin Mariner VPB-22 from Ulithi Island
  1. Strawser, L.C., Ens.
  2. Lamb, C.H., Ens.
  3. Tadman, W.F., AMM!/c
  4. McMullen, J.P., ARM1/2 (T)
  5. Fusco, L.C., ARM2/c (T)
  6. Willig, R.P., ARM3/c
  7. Walden, W.L., AMM3/c
  8. Thompson, I.E., AOM3/c
  9. Murray, T. H., S1/c
  10. Carrico, O.L. AOM2/c
  11. Cannizzaro, R.J. AMM3/c
The entire crew was picked up by the USS Alvin C. Cockrell (DE-366).
USN Bureau Report PBM-3D #45299

DE-366 Alvin Cockrell Report from 24 February 1945

VPB-22 War Diary Report

VPB-22 War History:

PBM-3D Martin Mariner

Description:

The crew was picked up by the USS Alvin C. Cockrell (DE-366).

The following was post by Bob Willig on the http://www.ussperry.com/seastory.htm web site:

    During WW2 I was a Flight Engineer and Gunner in VPB 22 we were flying a PBM Martin Mariner. Sat. Feb. 24, 1945 we went down off the Island of Yap, still a Jap held Island, in fact our squadron had been bombing Yap and Nagulu. It was 2:30 PM and were concerned we would drift on to the Island. At 12:01 AM (Midnight)being pitch dark we noticed a large blacker image several feet ahead, there were no lights as we were in enemy territory. It was the Alvin C Cockrel (DE366) and at day light we also saw the Manlove (DE36) taking part. We were taken on board the Cockrel by climbing large nets. During the operation a Shipmate fell overboard but fortunately was rescued. I keep thinking some day I will hear from one of the crew but time is getting short. Any one out there???? Bob Willig, Mechanicsburg Pa. 17055

Bob Willig Comments on August 13, 2006:

    The first pilot was Lt. Harold F. Strohoefer, pilot of the dead stick landing in the open sea. He is responsible for me being here today. Lt. Strohoefer who lived in Bayonne NJ, unfortunately passed away Oct. 7 1999.

From http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/escorts/de366.htm:

    Alvin C. Cockrell escorted convoys between Eniwetok, Guam, Saipan, Ulithi, and Kossel Roads, and, when required, served as harbor patrol and air-sea rescue vessel. She carried out her first air-sea rescue mission on 23 February 1945, when she sailed from Ulithi to go to the assistance of a Martin PBM-3D "Mariner" flying boat from Patrol Bombing Squadron 22 that had been forced down by engine trouble. Underway at 1008, Alvin C. Cockrell proceeded at flank speed, guided to the scene by a "dumbo" plane overhead.

    She put her whaleboat over the side as she neared the "Mariner," to take off the crew and attempt to take the aircraft in tow, and soon had seven of the nine enlisted men (two had remained on board to handle towlines), and the three officers from the crew on board. While the destroyer escort Manlove (DE-36) screened the operation, Alvin C. Cockrell managed to get the plane under two by 0910 the following day, after which time the destroyer escort set out for Ulithi. Unfortunately, soon after the remaining crewmen from the plane were taken on board, the towline parted Further attempts at salvage by Manlove proved fruitless and, ultimately, the "Mariner" (one wing of which had been damaged in the initial attempt to get a line to it) had to be sunk by gunfire.

Pictures

Click to Enlarge Pictures


This photo was taken about 1000 on the morning of 24 Feb 45 just prior to destroying the plane by gunfire. Note the damaged port wing. About 2330 (23 Feb 45), all crewmen were transferred to the Destroyer Escort USS Alvin C. Cockrell (DE 366) except for two who remained to handle lines for towing purposes. This photo was taken by Harry Epp, CM 1/C who also acted as the ship's official photographer.


1440--after conferring with the pilot, Lt. Stanhefer, USNR, and notifying the squadron commandere at Ulithi, the plane was destroyed by gunfire.


Strawser PBM crew thank you picture and note to George Clark and the crew of the Coclrell (DE 366) for saving the crew.

Thomas Hugh Murray

The following pictures and log book scans were supplied by Joyce Sullivan, the daughter of Thomas Hugh Murray. He was a crew member on the PBM-3D Martin Mariner that made an emergency water landing near Yap and almost floated within gun range of the Japanese before being rescued. Another page on his log book includes the note, "Jap Attack on Harbor - Suicide Dive Bombed a Carrier and Island - 21 Killed on CV - 5 Burned on Island". This is in regards to the March 1945 Japanese suicide mission against Ulithi that hit the USS Randolph in the harbor. In March 1945 twenty-four Yokosuka P1Y Ginga "Frances" attack bombers led by Lt Kuromaru Naoto (67th) took off on a one-way "tokko" (suicide) mission to Ulithi. Each Ginga carried a single 1,764-lb bomb. Eight hours after takeoff the Azusa Special Attack Unit descended through the overcast. As a result of a navigational error and unexpected head winds, they found themselves near Yap Island, 120 miles west of Ulithi. Three P1Ys of the Special Attack Unit arrived at Yap. One P1Y landed at the airfield. One P1Y failed in landing at the airfield and was damaged and one P1Y ditched off of Rumung. In 2006 we located the wreckage of the P1Y Ginda off of Rumung: http://www.missingaircrew.com/trip/un1/


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