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Yap Island Mission Loss—6 September 1944

The following planes were lost on 6 September 1944 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

Four planes were lost on missions to Yap on 6 September 1944:

6 September 1944 F6F-5 Hellcat VF-20 from the USS Enterprise Crashed just west of Yap Town (now called Colonia) on land. Info
6 September 1944 F6F-5 Hellcat VF-20 from the USS Enterprise Somewhere in the vicinity of Yap Town (now called Colonia). Land or water. Info
6 September 1944 F6F-5 Hellcat VF-20 from the USS Enterprise Somewhere in the vicinity of Yap Town (now called Colonia). Land or water. Info
6 September 1944 SB2C Helldiver VB-20 from the USS Enterprise Takeoff crash from the USS Enterprise. Info


 
Audio Files:

Download the listen to the following audio files to hear more about the air war over Yap during WWII, the three American Hellcat pilots that were lost over Yap on September 6, 1944 when flying a mission from the USS Enterprise and the Ens. Cox Hellcat memorial that was dedicated in 2010. The audio files will be part of an upcoming video that will be posted showing the memorial dedication. Please watch for the video to be posted.

Click to play or to download the files, right click on the files below and "save target" to your desktop to play. Files may take a few minutes to play or download due to the size.

Voice over by Jessica de la Cruz.

Please submit additional information.

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The Big E: The Story of the USS Enterprise Excerpt:

The following excerpt from the book, "The Big E: The Story of the USS Enterprise by Edward P. Stafford, Paul Stillwell", describes the September 6, 1944 attack on Yap by the USS Enterprise. One of the Hellcat crash sites we found in October 2005 belongs to Joe Cox listed in the excerpt below. The excerpt is a very interesting description of what was thought to be a "milk run" raid that ending up losing three Hellcats in 30 seconds

The Big E: The Story of the USS Enterprise Excerpt:

    On the way down to Palau, Enterprise, Franklin and San Jacinto worked over the already -battered island of Yap and the atolls of Ulithi and Ngulu to be certain that no support of any kind could come from them to the garrison of Palau.

    They hit Yap first, early on the afternoon of September 6, with thirty-five Hellcats carrying rockets, fragmentation clusters and plenty of .50 caliber bullets. The island had been well plastered by high flying, long range bombers of the Army Air Force but there were still a few buildings standing in Yap town, including a radio and cable station, some intact gun positions and a few native huts, suspiciously isolated, which turned out to be made of concrete with apertures for machine guns.

    Enterprise launched her fighters 170 miles northeast of the target and they circled the island to attack from the southwest out of the sun. "Dog" Smith led one four-plane division, Fred Bakutis another and Joe Lawler followed with three planes. Behind them were two two-plane sections. It was routine neutralization strike. The airfields had long been out of commission. No fighter opposition, very little AA. A milk run.

    Bakutis pushed over from 8000 feet, his three planes spread out a little but close behind him. The next minute Dog Smith, already in a dive, noticed something wrong with the last plane in Bakutis' division. Lietenant (j.g.) Harry Brown's F6 was in a fast shallow dive, with heavy black smoke pouring out behind it. It stayed in that unnatural maneuver until it hit the barren terrain just west of Yap Town and exploded, scattering flaming wreckage for half a mile.

    Lawler's three-plane division hit the push-over point right behind Smith and Bakutis. On his right wing was Joe Cox, on his left, Howard Holding. The three Hellcats nosed down and picked up speed, the altimeters unwinding, the wind noise increasing past their canopies. The pilots retrimmed with their left hands for the dive. Then Cox's plane suddenly turned left under Lawler's tail, toward Holding. For a minute Lawler lost sight of Cox. Then Cox and Holding were both in sight, both in tight, nose-down spirals from which neither recovered and neither bailed out. Either both had been hit by the same AA burst, or Cox had been hit and collided with Holding. The Yap milk run was only thirty seconds along.

VF-20 Group Pictures:

The following pictures are part of the Clint Daniel collection, http://www.Danielsww2.com.

VF-20 Squadron Picture
VF-20 squadron individual pictures

11 MB LARGE File
Fighting Squadron 20 Picture></a><font size=
VF-20 squadron picture in front of a Hellcat

6 MB LARGE File

VF-20 F6F-5 Hellcat

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Date: Plane Type: Unit: Crew Names: Supporting Documents:
6 September 1944 F6F-5
Hellcat from the USS Enterprise
VF-20, USN
  1. Lt.(jg) Harry D. Brown (MIA)
    Service #0-276232
Bureau #58471

Carrier Air Group Twenty, USN Aircraft Action Report for September 6, 1944

USS Enterprise. Metical Department Document from September 12, 1944

16 April 1944 USS Essex Passenger Document with Pilots Name

New York Causalty Listing

MIA/KIA STATUS: The following information was provided by the Navy and Marine causality offices:

PERMANENT CEMETERY LAST NAME FIRST NAME MI SUFFIX RANK SERVICE # DISPOSITION
MIA BROWN HARRY D   LTJG O 116943 Missing

Picture of Lt. Harry Dugan Brown

The following pictures were provided by the family of Harry Brown.

Click on a thumbnail image below to view the full sized image.


Harry Brown with sister
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Lt. Harry Dugan Brown

Description:

Enterprise, Yap Raid
Brown, Harry D. LT(jg)
KIA 6 Sep 1944

Hit by AA fire while attacking Yap Town.
Brown was SDAA & crashed just west of Yap Town.

American Battle Monuments Commission Information:

  • Harry D. Brown
  • Lieutenant Junior Grade, U.S. Navy
  • Service # 0-278232
  • United States Naval Reserve
  • Entered the Service from: Illinois
  • Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
  • Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery Manila, Philippines
  • Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart

Please submit additional information.

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Date: Plane Type: Unit: Crew Names: Supporting Documents:
6 September 1944 F6F-5
Hellcat from the USS Enterprise
VF-20, USN
  1. Ens. Joseph E. Cox (300730) (KIA)
Dept of Army Letter to Timothy Schubert and BUAERO Tag Picture.

USN Bureau Report #58675

Carrier Air Group Twenty, USN Aircraft Action Report for September 6, 1944

USS Enterprise. Metical Department Document from September 12, 1944

16 April 1944 USS Essex Passenger Document with Pilots Name

Picture of Ens. Joseph E. Cox

Ens. Joseph E. Cox

Ens. Joseph E. Cox
July 21, 1943 cadet graduation picture. The complete picture can be viewed by clicking on this link, complete class picture

Click on a thumbnail image below to view the full sized image.


Cox family picture. Joe is in the upper right with brothers Ray and Ellis (left to right). Bottom row (left to right) Fred, Vernon, and Lcie. The picture was taken just before Joe 's induction into the Navy.

Joe Cox in front of his Hellcat. Joe's comments on the back of this picture, "Getting guns reloaded. Note ammunition on the port side".

Joe's wife's kids (left to right): Roberta, David, and Evelyn.

Joe Cox and wife Fern.

Memorial service for Joe Cox held soon after Joe was declared dead and no longer missing in action.

Newspaper article: Joe Cox Wins Wings

Newspaper article: Joe Cox On Second Lap

Newspaper article: Missing Navy Airman Is Given Air Medal

Newspaper article: Joe Cox Trains for Pilot in U.S. Navy

Piece of map found at Cox crash site wehn the plane was moved in 2008

Letter's from Ens. Cox's mother

The following letters were written by the mother of Ens. Cox to the mother of another member of his VF-20 squadron who had also been shot down and declared missing. The first letter was written before the war ended and the other was written after the war ended as she continued to seek information about her missing son. The letters are part of the Clint Daniel collection, http://www.Danielsww2.com.

Mary 26, 2006 UPDATE: PILOT INFORMATION LOCATED: The mystery of the Hellcat crash site #1 we discovered in Yap last October has been solved thanks to the help of the internet. Timothy Schubert from Albany, Oregon located the MissingAirCrew.com web site and provided the answers we have been seeking. Timothy was stationed on Yap while in the Coast Guard. He married into a Yapese family and discovered the plane while searching his father-in-laws land. Timothy removed the BUAERO tag from the Hellcat and sent the information into the Department of the Army. He received the following letter back on May 3, 1991 stating that the aircraft was a VF-20 F6F5 Hellcat off the USS Enterprise lost over Yap on September 6, 1944. The aircraft was flown by Ensign Joseph E. Cox. Ensign Cox's remains were recovered and he is buried in a private cemetery in Idaho.

MIA/KIA STATUS: The following information was provided by the Navy and Marine causality offices:

PERMANENT CEMETERY LAST NAME FIRST NAME MI SUFFIX RANK SERVICE # DISPOSITION
Idaho COX JOSEPH E   ENS O 300730 Individual identification

Description:

Mid-air collision during crossover from right to left just as 3 plane division started straffing run. Both planes spiraled in. No parachutes observed.

Mid Air Collision with another Hellcat (Howard A. Holding).

Enterprise, Yap Raid
Cox, Joseph E. , ENS
VF-20, KIA 6 Sep 1944

Cox & Holding were also attacking Yap Town at the same time & were just getting ready to push over at the same point as Brown, when they either both got hit by the same AA burst or due to AA one crashed into the other. They were both seen spinning in at the same time, and I would imagine somewhere in the vicinity of Yap Town.

Data from the USS Enterprise CV-6, VF-20 Squadron History. On 6, 7, and 8 September, the fighters conducted number of sweeps and strikes on Yap Island. Again there were no enemy planes to oppose the attacks, and AA fire was meager though at times very accurate. Three fighters were lost over Yap Town during the first sweep, all three presumably to AA fire. Few suitable targets were found other than airfield which had already been heavily damaged and was inoperational.

20 December 1943 Accident Report Regarding Ens. Cox:

The following PDF file is an accident report regarding a Hellcat that Ens. Cox ditched off of Coronado, CA during a test flight on December 20, 1943. The plane developed engine problems and he was forced to make a water landing 300 yards off the beach.

Please submit additional information.

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Date: Plane Type: Unit: Crew Names: Supporting Documents:
6 September 1944 F6F-5
Hellcat from the USS Enterprise
VF-20, USN
  1. Ens. Howard A. Holding (KIA)
USN Bureau Report #58713

Carrier Air Group Twenty, USN Aircraft Action Report for September 6, 1944

USS Enterprise. Metical Department Document from September 12, 1944

Info receive from the National Personnel Records Center

16 April 1944 USS Essex Passenger Document with Pilots Name

Pictures of Ens. Howard A. Holding

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Holding Holding

Holding Holding
Holding Holding picture August 1943

Holding Holding
Ens. Holding Holding picture late 1943 or early 1944

Holding Holding
Ens. Holding Holding August 21, 1943 Cadet graduation picture. Click here to view the entire class picture.

NOTE: In September 2006 we discovered a Hellcat crash site on Yap Island that is believed to be the Howard Holding crash site. For more information, please visit the following link: MORE INFO

Howard Holding Newspaper Articles and Picture

The following newspaper articles regarding Ensign Howard Allen Holding MIA status, changing his status from MIA to killed, and a memorial service notice were found in the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune.

Click on a thumbnail image below to view the full sized article.

Howard Holding Article
The Salt Lake Tribune, October 21, 1944: S.L. Naval Airmen Reported Missing, Another Flier Prisoner of Germans
Howard Holding Article
The Salt Lake Tribune, February 11, 1946: Missing Ensign, Reported Killed, Was S.L. Musician
Howard Holding Article
The Desert News, February 16, 1946: Navy Reports Death of S.L. Ensign
Howard Holding Article
The Desert News, February 23, 1946: Memorial Services Will Homor Ensign
Howard Holding Article
The Salt Lake Tribune, February 25, 1946: Memorial Rites Held
Howard Holding Pictures
Howard Holding Picture

MIA/KIA STATUS: The following information was provided by the Navy and Marine causality offices:

PERMANENT CEMETERY LAST NAME FIRST NAME MI SUFFIX RANK SERVICE # DISPOSITION
MIA HOLDING HOWARD A   ENS O 305686 Missing

Description:

Mid Air Collision with another Hellcat (Joseph Cox).

Enterprise, Yap Raid
Holding, Howard A., ENS
VF-20, KIA 6 Sep 1944

See info above under Cox, Joseph E., Ens.

American Battle Monuments Commission Information:

  • Howard A. Holding
  • Ensign, U.S. Navy
  • Service # 0-305686
  • United States Naval Reserve
  • Entered the Service from: Utah
  • Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
  • Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery Manila, Philippines
  • Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart

Please submit additional information.

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Date: Plane Type: Unit: Crew Names: Supporting Documents:
6 September 1944 SB2C Helldiver dive bomber from the USS Enterprise VB-20, USN
  1. James V. Osborne, Jr. (KIA)

USN Bureau Report #19229

Carrier Air Group Twenty, USN Aircraft Action Report for September 6, 1944

MIA/KIA STATUS: The following information was provided by the Navy and Marine causality offices:

PERMANENT CEMETERY LAST NAME FIRST NAME MI SUFFIX RANK SERVICE # DISPOSITION
MIA OSBORNE JAMES V Jr. ARM1 3373477 Missing

Description:

Takeoff crash, pilot rescued. Passenger missing. Missing at sea.

Enterprise, Yap Raid
Osborne, James V. Jr.
ARM 1/c - VB-20
KIA 6 Sep 1944

American Battle Monuments Commission Information:

  • James V. Osborne, Jr.
  • Aviation Radioman, First Class, U.S. Navy
  • Service # 3373477
  • United States Navy
  • Entered the Service from: Illinois
  • Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
  • Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery Manila, Philippines

Please submit additional information.

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