FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 23rd through 27th 2017

Friends of FOD

OK I got busy and haven’t published in more than a few days.  What can I say?  Maybe I’m suffering from Solar Eclipse Overload Syndrome.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the many folks who have lost their homes and personal possessions as a result of Hurricane Harvey.


US Navy 7th  Fleet Relieved

Following a collision between the Seventh Fleet destroyer USS John S. McCain with the merchant ship Alnic MC in the the Strait of Malacca in the South China Sea, which left 10 navy sailors missing and five sailors injured on August 21, 2017, off the coast of Singapore it was confirmed the commander of the United States Seventh Fleet has been relieved of command.  Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin (below right) was relieved of his command on 23 August 2017 due to “loss of confidence in his ability to command.”  He was just weeks away from retirement.  The Wall Street Journal first reported the planned move Tuesday.  RADM  Phillip G. Sawyer has now assumed command of Seventh Fleet.  While I was a bit glib in earlier editions of FOD regarding the need for a band, etc. it is unfortunate to see the careers of fine officers ended in such a manner.  That being said, the Navy reposes special trust and responsibility for the safety and well-being of the ship and those who sail within her and thus commanding officers are held to the highest standards of accountability.  The U.S. Navy announced on 24 August 2017 that it would be suspending search-and-rescue efforts to focus on recovery efforts of the missing sailors.  Divers have recovered the bodies of all 10 sailors missing.   The Navy previously identified eight crew members who were missing as Charles Nathan Findley, Abraham Lopez, Kevin Sayer Bushell, Jacob Daniel Drake, Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., Corey George Ingram, John Henry Hoagland III and Logan Stephen Palmer.  The bodies of Kenneth Aaron Smith and Dustin Louis Doyon were previously recovered.  There has been at least a rumor out there McCain may have suffered a steering causality or a loss of steering control shortly before the accident, but that doesn’t add much to the discussion at this point.  My experience aboard aircraft carriers was that after-steering (the manual backup steering control room) and all other steering backup systems were always fully manned during a transit of the Strait of Malacca.


A Bit About USS Antietam’s January Grounding

A story that I didn’t cover in FOD back in January is worthy of considering here.  Amid the fallout from the destroyer USS John S. McCain ‘s collision, the four-star admiral who leads the Pacific Fleet lamented Tuesday that a series of at-sea disasters in 7th Fleet’s waters are taking place during ”the most basic of operations.”   Problems were apparent months ago, when the USS Antietam (CG-54) ran aground in Tokyo Bay.  According to the investigation report, on 31 January 2017, commanded by CAPT Joseph Carrigan, Antietam ran aground in Tokyo Bay near her home port of Yokosuka, Japan. Antietam was anchored off the coast in 30 knot winds and a strong tide when the crew noticed the ship was dragging its anchor. This followed a botched anchoring evolution.  Antietam missed its intended anchorage spot by 60 yards on approach. Instead, it anchored 247 yards from its intended position and didn’t let out enough anchor chain to stop the ship. I think we covered this plebe year in our first course of naval navigation.  The phone talker relayed the ”let go the anchor” order after hearing Carrigan, instead of waiting for direction from the officer of the deck, the report states.  There was a delay between the time of the anchor order and when the anchor fell because a pelican hook retaining pin was inserted backwards, making it difficult for deck sailors to remove it, according to the report.  “The anchor was not properly set and was dragging, but did not provide a visual cue (e.g., chain hopping) to the forecastle team,” the report states. ”The forecastle team reported ‘the anchor appears to be holding.’ This likely added confusion regarding ship movement.”  However, statements revealed that Carrigan, (below left)the executive officer, the officer of the deck and the navigator were aware the anchor was not holding the ship in position, according to the report.  Investigators found that the CO, the executive officer, the officer of the deck, the conning officer and the navigator all failed to account for high winds and currents during the planning and execution of the ship’s navigation and anchoring plan. The skipper’s rush to get underway that morning, and a demeanor that stifled critical crew communications, were also factors, according to the investigation.  Watchstanders on the bridge and the combat information center “failed to provide forceful backup to the CO,” according to the report. “There was a general awareness that Antietam was approaching shoal, but neither the navigation team nor the CIC team stated the ‘ship was standing in danger’ or provided a recommendation to maneuver away from danger,” the report states.  The navigator was not qualified as officer of the deck, and the Antietam did not have a qualified navigator on board, the report states.  They got the ship underway, but shortly after doing so, they felt the ship shudder as it lost all pitch control in both propellers. They had run aground on a shoal with damage to both propellers and one of the propeller hubs, causing 1,100 gallons of hydraulic oil to leak into the water.  No personnel were injured during the incident.  Repairs are expected to cost at least $4.2 million.  Obviously I was never a surface warfare officer, nor can I say I’m an expert in ship handling, but as Grandpa Pettibone was fond of saying, “Jumpin’ Jehosaphat, what were these folks thinking?”  (Grandpa Pettibone routinely bellowed from his perch with the Naval Air Safety Center, as that salty curmudgeon who for more than twenty years insisted upon adherence to safety programs and professional standards.  No exceptions.  Safety and professionalism begins, proceeds, and ends with leadership, whose buck stops with… if not you, whom?)



X-15 Flight

In those heady days of the X-15 experimental rocket aircraft program in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s we often forget the US already a United States Air Force (USAF) program to put a man into outer space before the Soviet Union.  The Man In Space Soonest (MISS) project program was cancelled on August 1, 1958, and was replaced by NASA‘s Project Mercury. Only two men from the program would actually reach outer space.

On Aug. 22, 1963, Joe Walker, a test pilot from NASA, flew the X-15 to its peak altitude of 354,200 feet, 67 miles above the Earth’s surface at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. (Courtesy photo)

The first, Joseph A. Walker, did so twice in two X-15 rocket plane tests in 1963. Another, Neil Armstrong, became a NASA astronaut in 1962 and became the first person to walk on the Moon in 1969.  The X-15 Program continued.  In 1958, Walker was one of the pilots selected for the U.S. Air Force’s Man In Space Soonest (MISS) project.  That same year, NACA became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and in 1960, Walker became the first NASA pilot to fly the X-15, and the second X-15 pilot, following Scott Crossfield, the manufacturer’s test pilot. On his first X-15 flight, Walker did not realize how much power its rocket engines had, and he was crushed backward into the pilot’s seat, screaming, “Oh, my God!”. Then, a flight controller jokingly replied “Yes? You called?” Walker would go on to fly the X-15 24 times, including the only two flights that exceeded 100 kilometres (62 miles) in altitude, Flight 90 (on 19 July 1963: 106 km (66 mi)) and Flight 91 (on 22 August 1963: 108 km (67 mi)).  Walker was the first American civilian to make any spaceflight, and the second civilian overall, preceded only by the Soviet Union‘s cosmonautValentina Tereshkova one month earlier. Flights 90 and 91 made Walker the first human to make multiple spaceflights.  Walker flew at the fastest speed in the X-15A-1: 4,104 mph (6,605 km/h) (Mach 5.92) during a flight on 27 June 1962 (the fastest flight in any of the three X-15s was about 4,520 mph (7,274 km/h) (Mach 6.7) flown by William J. Knight in 1967).  On his twenty-fifth and last X-15 flight Walker would attempt a flight to the maximum altitude the X-15 was capable of reaching, around 400,000 feet.  Simulations pointing to the risky nature of atmospheric reentry coupled with slight variations in the thrust of the Reaction Motors XLR99-RM-2 liquid propellant rocket engine led to the flight’s target altitude being set at 360,000 feet so as to provide a safety margin.   Thrust beyond 60,000 pounds was often seen, but this could not be predicted in advance. The flight plan called for the duration of burn to be 84.5 seconds on this flight. The X-15 climbed at a 45° angle.  Number 3 X-15, 56-6672 was selected for this flight as it was the only one of the three North American Aviation X-15s equipped with the Minneapolis-Honeywell MH-96 flight control system, which had been developed to improve control of the rocketplane outside Earth’s atmosphere.  MH-96 adaptive gain flight control system for high altitude flights out of the atmosphere. The MH-96 automatically blended the aerodynamic and reaction controls. The system compensated for the reduction in effectiveness of the aerodynamic controls as altitude increased.  Also noted was the adaptive gain flight control system changed the behavior of the X-15 during landing. In the other two X-15s, the pilot would pull the stick back with constantly increasing force to maintain the desired angle of attack as the rocket plane slowed down. In the X-15-3, the pilot held the control stick centered to maintain the desired angle of attack. The X-15-3 did not display the changes in trim associated with the extension of the flap and landing gear that the X-15 pilots had become accustomed to. Walker was dropped from the Boeing NB-52A Strotofortress 52-003 from an altitude of 45,000 feet at 10:05:57 L between Reno and the NASA High Altitude Tracking Station at Ely.  Walker ignited the XLR99-RM-1 rocket engine and began a 45° climb.  As Walker was about to shut down the engine according to plan, it ran out of fuel. The total burn time was 85.8 seconds, just slightly longer than planned as he was passing 176,000 feet and was traveling at 5600 feet per second.  It would take him almost 2 minutes to reach 354,200 feet (a very long time when you’re climbing after engine burnout).  As he pitched the X-15 back down toward the proper attitude for atmospheric reentry, he and the aircraft experienced as much as 7 Gs.  The rocketplane’s aerodynamic control surfaces began to become effective around 95,000 feet and he leveled briefly at 70,000 feet in order to set up the high key for a glide landing at Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards AFB.  Total flight time:11 minutes, 8.6 seconds.  A good morning’s work.  And back in time to go to the Taco Truck for lunch.  His record would stand for another 41 years.





C-130 First Flight

On August 23, 1954, the first of two Lockheed YC-130 Hercules four-engine transport prototypes, 53-3397, made its first flight from the Lockheed Air Terminal at Burbank, California, to Edwards Air Force Base. The flight crew consisted of test pilots Stanley Beltz and Roy Wimmer, with Jack G. Real (a future Lockheed vice president) and Dick Stanton as flight engineers. The flight lasted 1 hour, 1 minute.  The C-130 was designed as a basic tactical transport, capable of carrying 72 soldiers or 64 paratroopers. All production aircraft have been built at Lockheed’s Marietta, Georgia, plant.  The first production model, the C-130A Hercules, was equipped with four Allison Model 501-D13 (T56-A-9) turboshaft engines, driving three-bladed propellers. The engines produced 3,755 horsepower, each.  Over 40 variants have been built by Lockheed, including civilian transports. It is in service worldwide.  The latest version is the Lockheed C-130J Hercules. After 63 years, the C-130 is still in production, longer than any other aircraft type.


First USMC Ace

Captain (later Major General) Marion E. Carl, was assigned to VMF-223 at Henderson Field, deployed to Guadalcanal Island as part of the Cactus Air ForceOn August 24, 1942, flying the F4F Wildcat he shot down four enemy airplanes in one day. They included a Mitsubishi A6M Zeke fighter, a Mitsubishi G4M1 Betty bomber and two Nakajima B5N2 Kate bombers. Carl had previously shot down an A6M during the Battle of Midway, less than three months earlier. He now had five aerial combat victories, making him the Marine Corps’ first ace.  It is believed that on August 26 Carl shot down the famous Japanese Navy Tainan Kōkūtai ace Junichi Sasai over Henderson Field. When the squadron left Guadalcanal in October, Carl was America’s second-ranking ace behind Major Smith. Captain Carl was awarded the Navy Cross (his second) for his actions in the Solomon Islands from 24 August to 9 September 1942.  With a top speed of 318 mph (512 km/h), the Wildcat was outperformed by the faster 331 mph, more maneuverable, and longer-ranged Mitsubishi A6M Zero. However, the F4F’s ruggedness, coupled with tactics such as the Thach Weave, resulted in a claimed air combat kill-to-loss ratio of 5.9:1 in 1942 and 6.9:1 for the entire war.  Lessons learned from the Wildcat were later applied to the faster F6F Hellcat. While the Wildcat had better range and maneuverability at low speed, the Hellcat could rely on superior power and high speed performance to outperform the Zero. The Wildcat continued to be built throughout the remainder of the war to serve on escort carriers, where larger and heavier fighters could not be used.  In 1945, Carl graduated in the first test pilot class at Naval Air Station Patuxent RiverMaryland. And on August 25, 1947, Major Carl piloted the Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak, BuNo 37970, to a new set a new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Speed Record Over A 3 Kilometer Straight Course, achieving an average speed of 650.797 miles per hour.  As a lieutenant colonel, he conducted pioneering jet operations from aircraft carriers and later commanded VMF-122, the first Marine jet squadron.  Though still a colonel, Carl became Director of Marine Corps Aviation for five months in 1962. In 1964 he was promoted to brigadier general; in 1965, he took the First Marine Brigade to DanangSouth Vietnam. Despite his seniority, he repeatedly flew combat missions in helicopter gunships and jet fighters.  Carl received his second star as a major general in 1967, commanding the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS Cherry PointNorth Carolina from 1968 to 1970. He subsequently served as Inspector General of the Marine Corps, until retiring in 1973. By then he had logged some 13,000 flying hours, more than twice as much as most contemporaries.  Carl returned to his native Oregon, where he and his wife Edna settled near Roseburg. Marion Carl’s memoir, Pushing the Envelope, coauthored with his friend Barrett Tillman, was published in 1994.  In 1998, at age 82, he was shot to death with a shotgun during a robbery, defending Edna from a home invader.  Carl was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.  His murderer, 19-year-old Jesse Fanus, was apprehended one week later. In April 1999, he was convicted on two counts of aggravated murder (and 11 additional felony charge) and sentenced to death. In 2003, his conviction and death sentence were upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court. In December 2011, the sentence was overturned based on the prisoner’s inadequate legal representation; a new sentencing session was expected in 2015.  Fanus was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on May 7, 2015.


Dolley Madison Saves George Washington

James Madison married Dolley Payne Todd in 1809.  She was noted for her social graces, which boosted her husband’s popularity as President. In this way, she did much to define the role of the President’s spouse, known only much later by the title First Lady—a function she had sometimes performed earlier for the widowed Thomas JeffersonAfter the United States declared war in 1812 and attempted to invade Canada in 1813, a British force attacked Washington in 1814. According to the White House Historical Society and Dolley’s personal letters, President James Madison left the White House on August 22 to meet with his generals on the battlefield, as British troops threatened to enter the capitol. Before leaving, he asked his wife Dolley if she had the “courage or firmness” to wait for his intended return the next day. He asked her to gather important state papers and be prepared to abandon the White House at any moment. The next day, Dolley and a few servants scanned the horizon with spyglasses waiting for either Madison or the British army to show up. As British troops gathered in the distance, Dolley decided to abandon the couple’s personal belongings and save the full-length portrait of former president and national icon George Washington from desecration by vengeful British soldiers, many of whom would have rejoiced in humiliating England’s former colonists. As it approached and the White House staff hurriedly prepared to flee, Dolley Madison ordered the Stuart painting, a copy of the Lansdowne portrait, to be saved, as she wrote in a letter to her sister at 3 o’clock in the afternoon of August 23:

Our kind friend Mr. Carroll has come to hasten my departure, and in a very bad humor with me, because I insist on waiting until the large picture of General Washington is secured, and it requires to be unscrewed from the wall. The process was found too tedious for these perilous moments; I have ordered the frame to be broken and the canvas taken out”….. “It is done, and the precious portrait placed in the hands of two gentlemen from New York for safe keeping. On handing the canvas to the gentlemen in question, Messrs. Barker and Depeyster, Mr. Sioussat cautioned them against rolling it up, saying that it would destroy the portrait. He was moved to this because Mr. Barker started to roll it up for greater convenience for carrying.




British Dine At and Then Burn White House

From having read the about article, you know Dolley and the copy of Gilbert Stuart’s original full length portrait of former president George Washington.  On 24 August 1814, the British troops, who have been used to eating that English food, enter Washington, D.C. When the British arrived at the White House, they found that President James Madison and his first lady Dolley had already fled to safety in Maryland. Soldiers reportedly sat down to eat a meal made of leftover food from the White House scullery using White House dishes and silver before ransacking the presidential mansion and setting it ablaze.  Although President Madison and his wife were able to return to Washington only three days later when British troops had moved on, they never again lived in the White House. Madison served the rest of his term residing at the city’s Octagon House. It was not until 1817 that newly elected president James Monroe moved back into the reconstructed building.


19th  Amendment Adopted

The 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution by proclamation of Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby on August 26, 1920.  The amendment was the culmination of more than 70 years of struggle by woman suffragists. Its two sections read simply: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” and “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” While scattered movements and organizations dedicated to women’s rights existed previously, the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention in New York is traditionally held as the start of the American women’s rights movement. Suffrage was not a focus of the convention, however, and its advancement was minimal in the decades preceding the Civil War. While suffrage bills were introduced into most state legislatures during this period, they were generally disregarded and few came to a vote.  The women’s suffrage movement took hold after the Civil War, during the Reconstruction Era (1865–1877). During this period, women’s rights leaders advocated for inclusion of universal suffrage as a civil right in the Reconstruction amendments (the ThirteenthFourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments). Despite their efforts, these amendments did nothing to promote women’s suffrage.  Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly discriminated between men and women by penalizing states who deprived adult male citizens of the vote, but not for denying the vote to adult female citizens.  In Minor v. Happersett88U.S. 162 (1875), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment did not provide or protect a right to vote to women.  Continued settlement of the western frontier, along with the establishment of territorial constitutions, allowed the issue to be raised continually at the state level. Through the activism of suffrage organizations and independent political parties, women’s suffrage was established in the newly formed constitutions of Wyoming Territory (1869), Utah (1870), and Washington Territory (1883).  Existing state legislatures began to consider suffrage bills, and several even held voter referenda, but they were unsuccessful.  Efforts at the national level persisted through a strategy of congressional testimony, petitioning, and lobbying.  There were several attempts to amend the Constitution, prior to the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment, to grant universal and limited suffrage to women. One of the attempts, the “Petition for Universal Suffrage”, signed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, among others, called for a Constitutional amendment to “prohibit the several states from disenfranchising any of their citizens on the ground of sex” in 1865.  In another attempt, an amendment proposed in the House of Representatives called for limited suffrage for women who were spinsters or widows and owned property in 1888.  Two rival organizations, the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) and the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), were formed in 1869.  The NWSA, led by suffrage leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, attempted several unsuccessful court challenges in the mid-1870s.  Their legal case, known as the New Departure strategy, was that the Fourteenth Amendment (granting universal citizenship) and Fifteenth Amendment (granting the vote irrespective of race) together served to guarantee voting rights to women. Three Supreme Court decisions from 1873 to 1875 rejected this argument, so these groups shifted to advocating for a new constitutional amendment.  In January 1918, the woman suffrage amendment passed the House of Representatives with the necessary two-thirds majority vote. In June 1919, it was approved by the Senate and sent to the states for ratification. Campaigns were waged by suffragists around the country to secure ratification, and on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it the law of the land.  The package containing the certified record of the action of the Tennessee legislature was sent by train to the nation’s capital, arriving in the early hours of August 26. At 8 a.m. that morning, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed it without ceremony at his residence in Washington. None of the leaders of the woman suffrage movement were present when the proclamation was signed, and no photographers or film cameras recorded the event. That afternoon, Carrie Chapman Catt, head of the National American Suffrage Association, was received at the White House by President Woodrow Wilson and Edith Wilson, the first lady.


Lights, Cameras, Baseball

On 26 August 1939, television station W2XBS in New York City broadcasts a doubleheader between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. The game, filmed with two cameras, was the first Major League Baseball game ever aired on television.  W2XBS in Manhattan, a trailblazing television station owned by NBC, was the first to broadcast not just baseball, but college and professional football in 1939 and hockey and basketball in 1940. The station’s first foray into baseball broadcasting came in May 1939 when it aired a game between Columbia and Princeton universities from Baker Field in upper Manhattan–using just one camera that was essentially unable to follow the game as well as the naked eye. Three months later for the major league game, a second camera was added in order to better follow the action on the field. The first was placed by the visitor’s dugout down the third base line; the second camera was in the stands directly behind home plate. Newspapers reported that the ball could be seen leaving the pitcher’s hand on the way to home plate some of the time, a dramatic improvement over the first broadcast at Columbia.  Red Barber, the long-time radio voice of the Dodgers, also called the game for the broadcast. In the first game, Reds ace pitcher Bucky Walters flummoxed the Dodgers, holding them to just two hits in a 5-2 win. The Dodgers got their revenge in the second game with a 6-1 victory. In that second game, Dodger pitcher Hugh Casey snagged his ninth win with help from first baseman Dolf Camilli, who hit a two-run game-winning home run, his 22nd of the year, in the second inning.  The game was broadcast from New York City’s Empire State Building, completed just eight years earlier, and could be seen in homes up to 50 miles away.  However, the first official minor league night game actually took place in Independence, Kansas on April 28, 1930



America Wins First America’s Cup

On August 22, 1851, the schooner America. won the Royal Yacht Squadron‘s 53-mile (85 km) regatta around the Isle of Wight by 18 minutes.  The Squadron’s “One Hundred Sovereign Cup” or “£100 Cup”, mistakenly known in America as the “One Hundred Guinea Cup,  was later renamed after the original winning yacht.  The America’s Cup, affectionately known as the “Auld Mug”, is a trophy awarded to the winner of the America’s Cup match races between two sailing yachts. One yacht, known as the defender, represents the yacht club that currently holds the America’s Cup and the second yacht, known as the challenger, represents the yacht club that is challenging for the cup. The timing of each match is determined by an agreement between the defender and the challenger. The America’s Cup is the oldest international sporting trophyThe next America’s Cup will see the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron defend the cup. The Challenger of Record is Circolo della Vela Sicilia who will be represented by their team Luna Rossa Challenge.  The event will be held in the southern summer, in the early part of 2021.  When I was flying F-14’s in VF-21 on USS Constellation (CV-64) we made a port visit to Perth, Australia.  We sent a letter to the Royal Perth Yacht Club asking if we might come by and view the America’s Cup as they were the current holders of the cup.  We received back an invitation to have lunch with the members.  We wore our Dinner Dress White uniforms and had a rather splendid lunch, made many new Aussie friends, toasted the Queen, The President and many others with fine Australian champagne.



Battle of the East Solomons

Battle of the Eastern Solomons took place on 24–25 August 1942, and was the third carrier battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II and the second major engagement fought between the United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Guadalcanal Campaign. As at the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway, the ships of the two adversaries were never within sight of each other. Instead, all attacks were carried out by carrier-based or land-based aircraft.  At 01:45 on 24 August 1942, Nagumo ordered Rear Admiral Chūichi Hara (with the light carrier Ryūjō, the heavy cruiser Tone and destroyers Amatsukaze and Tokitsukaze) to proceed ahead of the main Japanese force and send an aircraft attack force against Henderson Field at daybreak.  The Ryūjō mission was most likely in response to a request from Nishizo Tsukahara (the naval commander at Rabaul) for help from the combined fleet in neutralizing Henderson Field.  The mission may also have been intended by Nagumo as a feint maneuver to divert U.S. attention allowing the rest of the Japanese force to approach the U.S. naval forces undetected as well as to help provide protection and cover for Tanaka’s convoy.  Most of the aircraft on Shōkaku and Zuikaku were readied to launch on short notice if the U.S. carriers were located. Between 05:55 and 06:30, the U.S. carriers (mainly Enterprise augmented by PBY Catalinas from Ndeni) launched their own scout aircraft to search for the Japanese naval forces.  At 09:35, a Catalina made the first sighting of the Ryūjō force. Later that morning, several more sightings of Ryūjō and ships of Kondo’s and Mikawa’s forces by carrier and other U.S. reconnaissance aircraft followed. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, U.S. aircraft also sighted several Japanese scout aircraft and submarines, leading Fletcher to believe that the Japanese knew where his carriers were, which actually was not yet the case. Still, Fletcher hesitated to order a strike against the Ryūjō group until he was sure there were no other Japanese carriers in the area. Finally, with no firm word on the presence or location of other Japanese carriers, at 13:40 Fletcher launched a strike of 38 aircraft from Saratoga to attack Ryūjō. However, he kept aircraft in reserve from both U.S. carriers potentially ready should any Japanese fleet carriers be sighted.  Meantime, at 12:20, Ryūjō launched six Nakajima B5N2 “Kate” bombers and 15 A6M3 Zero fighters to attack Henderson Field in conjunction with an attack by 24 Mitsubishi G4M2 “Betty” bombers and 14 Zeros from Rabaul. However, unknown to the Ryūjō aircraft, the Rabaul aircraft had encountered severe weather and returned to their base earlier at 11:30. The Ryūjō aircraft were detected on radar by Saratoga as they flew toward Guadalcanal, further fixing the location of their ship for the impending U.S. attack.  The Ryūjō aircraft arrived over Henderson Field at 14:23, and tangled with Henderson’s fighters (members of the Cactus Air Force) while bombing the airfield. In the resulting engagement, three “Kates”, three Zeros, and three U.S. fighters were shot down, and no significant damage was done to Henderson Field.  Almost simultaneously, at 14:25 a Japanese scout aircraft from the cruiser Chikuma sighted the U.S. carriers. Although the aircraft was shot down, its report was transmitted in time, and Nagumo immediately ordered his strike force launched from Shōkaku and Zuikaku. The first wave of aircraft (27 Aichi D3A2 “Val” dive bombers and 15 Zeros) was off by 14:50 and on its way toward Enterprise and Saratoga. Coincidentally about this same time, two U.S. scout aircraft finally sighted the main Japanese force. However, due to communication problems, these sighting reports never reached Fletcher (below right). Before leaving the area, the two U.S. scout aircraft attacked Shōkaku, causing negligible damage.  At 16:00 a second wave of 27 Vals and nine Zeros was launched by the Japanese carriers and headed south toward the U.S. carriers. Abe’s “Vanguard” force also surged ahead in anticipation of meeting the U.S. ships in a surface action after nightfall.  Again coincidentally about this same time, the Saratoga strike force arrived and attacked Ryūjō, hitting and heavily damaging her with three to five bombs and perhaps one torpedo, and killing 120 of her crew. Also during this time, several U.S. B-17 heavy bombers attacked the crippled Ryūjō but caused no additional damage.  The crew abandoned the heavily damaged Japanese carrier at nightfall and she sank soon after. Amatsukaze and Tokitsukaze rescued Ryūjō‘s survivors and the aircrews from her returning strike force, who ditched their aircraft in the ocean nearby. After the rescue operations were complete, both Japanese destroyers and Tone rejoined Nagumo’s main force.  At 16:02, still waiting for a definitive report on the location of the Japanese fleet carriers, the U.S. carriers’ radar detected the first incoming wave of Japanese strike aircraft. Fifty-three F4F-4 Wildcat fighters from the two U.S. carriers were directed by radar control towards the attackers. However, communication problems, limitations of the aircraft identification capabilities of the radar, primitive control procedures, and effective screening of the Japanese dive bombers by their escorting Zeros, prevented all but a few of the U.S. fighters from engaging the Vals before they began their attacks on the U.S. carriers.  Just before the Japanese dive bombers began their attacks, Enterprise and Saratoga cleared their decks for the impending action by launching the aircraft that they had been holding ready in case the Japanese fleet carriers were sighted. These aircraft were told to fly north and attack anything they could find, or else to circle outside the battle zone, until it was safe to return.  At 16:29, the Japanese dive bombers began their attacks. Although several attempted to set up to attack the Saratoga, they quickly shifted back to the nearer carrier, Enterprise. Thus, Enterprise was the target of almost the entire Japanese air attack. Several Wildcats followed the Vals into their attack dives, despite the intense anti-aircraft artillery fire from Enterprise and her screening warships, in a desperate attempt to disrupt their attacks.  As many as four Wildcats were shot down by U.S. anti-aircraft fire, as well as several Vals.  Because of the effective anti-aircraft fire from the U.S. ships, plus evasive maneuvers, the bombs from the first nine Vals missed Enterprise. However, at 16:44, an armor-piercingdelayed-action bomb penetrated the flight deck near the aft elevator and passed through three decks before detonating below the waterline, killing 35 men and wounding 70 more. Incoming sea water caused Enterprise to develop a slight list, but it was not a major breach of hull integrity.  Just 30 seconds later, the next Val planted its bomb only 15 ft (4.6 m) away from where the first bomb hit. The resulting detonation ignited a large secondary explosion from one of the nearby 5 in (127 mm) guns’ ready powder casings, killing 35 members of the nearby gun crews and starting a large fire.  About a minute later, at 16:46, the third and last bomb hit Enterprise on the flight deck forward of where the first two bombs hit. This bomb exploded on contact, creating a 10 ft (3.0 m) hole in the deck, but caused no further damage.  Four Vals then broke off from the attack on Enterprise to attack the U.S. battleship North Carolina, but all of their bombs missed and all four Vals were shot down by anti-aircraft fire or U.S. fighters. The attack was over at 16:48, and the surviving Japanese aircraft reassembled in small groups and returned to their ships.  Both sides thought that they had inflicted more damage than was the case. The U.S. claimed to have shot down 70 Japanese aircraft, even though there were only 42 aircraft in all. Actual Japanese losses—from all causes—in the engagement were 25 aircraft, with most of the crews of the lost aircraft not being recovered or rescued. The Japanese, for their part, mistakenly believed that they had heavily damaged two U.S. carriers, instead of just one. The U.S. lost six aircraft in the engagement, with most of the crews being rescued.  Although Enterprise was heavily damaged and on fire, her damage-control teams were able to make sufficient repairs for the ship to resume flight operations at 17:46, only one hour after the engagement ended.  At 18:05, the Saratoga strike force returned from sinking Ryūjō and landed without major incident.  The second wave of Japanese aircraft approached the U.S. carriers at 18:15 but was unable to locate the U.S. formation because of communication problems and had to return to their carriers without attacking any U.S. ships, losing five aircraft in the process from operational mishaps.  Most of the U.S. carrier aircraft launched just before the first wave of Japanese aircraft attacked failed to find any targets. However, two SBD Dauntlesses from Saratoga sighted Kondo’s advanced force and attacked the seaplane tender Chitose, scoring two near-hits which heavily damaged the unarmored ship.  The U.S. carrier aircraft either landed at Henderson Field or were able to return to their carriers after dusk.  The U.S. ships retired to the south to get out of range of any approaching Japanese warships. In fact, Abe’s “Vanguard” force and Kondo’s “Advance” force were steaming south to try to catch the U.S. carrier task forces in a surface battle, but they turned around at midnight without having made contact with the U.S. warships. Nagumo’s main body, having taken heavy aircraft losses in the engagement and being low on fuel, also retreated northward.  On August 25th, Believing that two U.S. carriers had been taken out of action with heavy damage, Tanaka’s reinforcement convoy again headed toward Guadalcanal, and by 08:00 on 25 August they were within 150 mi (130 nmi; 240 km) of their destination. At this time, Tanaka’s convoy was joined by five destroyers which had shelled Henderson Field the night before, causing slight damage.  At 08:05, 18 U.S. aircraft from Henderson Field attacked Tanaka’s convoy, causing heavy damage to Jintsu, killing 24 crewmen, and knocking Tanaka unconscious. The troop transport Kinryu Maru was also hit and eventually sank. Just as the destroyer Mutsuki pulled alongside Kinryu Maru to rescue her crew and embarked troops, she was attacked by four U.S. B-17s from Espiritu Santo which landed five bombs on or around Mutsuki, sinking her immediately. An uninjured but shaken Tanaka transferred to the destroyer Kagerō, sent Jintsu back to Truk, and took the convoy to the Japanese base in the Shortland Islands.  Both the Japanese and the U.S. elected to completely withdraw their warships from the area, ending the battle. The Japanese naval forces lingered near the northern Solomons, out of range of the U.S. aircraft based at Henderson Field, before finally returning to Truk on 5 September.  The U.S. and its allies gained tactical and strategic advantage. Japan’s losses were greater and included dozens of aircraft and their experienced aircrews. Also, Japanese reinforcements intended for Guadalcanal were delayed and eventually delivered by warships rather than transport ships, giving the Allies more time to prepare for the Japanese counteroffensive and preventing the Japanese from landing heavy artillery, ammunition, and other supplies.


Colonel George E. Day Medal of Honor

George E. “Bud” Day, was a United States Air Force colonel and pilot who served during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, including five years and seven months as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Day was a recipient of the Medal of Honor and the Air Force Cross. As of 2016, he is the only person to be awarded both medals.  On 26 August 1967, Major Day was flying F-100F-15-NA, AF Serial No. 56-3954, call sign Misty 01, on his 26th Fast FAC sortie, directing a flight of F-105 Thunderchiefs in an air strike against a surface-to-air missile (SAM) site north of Thon Cam Son and west of Đồng Hới, 20 mi (32 km) north of the DMZ in North Vietnam. Day was on his 65th mission into North Vietnam and acting as check pilot for Captain Corwin M. “Kipp” Kippenhan, who was upgrading to aircraft commander. 37 mm antiaircraft fire crippled the aircraft, forcing the crew to eject. In the ejection, Day’s right arm was broken in three places when he struck the side of the cockpit, and he also received eye and back injuries.  Kippenhan was rescued by a USAF HH-3E, but Day was unable to contact the rescue helicopter by survival radio and was quickly captured by North Vietnamese local militia. On his fifth night, when he was still within 20 miles (32 kilometers) of the DMZ, Day escaped from his initial captors despite his serious injuries. Although stripped of both his boots and flight suit, Day crossed the Demilitarized Zone back into South Vietnam. Within 2 miles (3 kilometers) of the U.S. Marine firebase at Con Thien and after 12 to 15 days of evading, he was captured again, this time by a Viet Cong patrol that wounded him in the leg and hand with gunfire.  Taken back to his original camp, Day was tortured for escaping, breaking his right arm again. He then was moved to several prison camps near Hanoi, where he was periodically beaten, starved, and tortured. In December 1967, Day shared a cell with Navy Lt. Cdr. and future senator and presidential candidate John McCain. Air Force major Norris Overly nursed both back to health, and McCain later devised a makeshift splint of bamboo and rags that helped heal Day’s seriously atrophied arm.  On 14 March 1973, Day was released after five years and seven months as a North Vietnamese prisoner. Within three days Day was reunited with his wife, Doris Sorensen Day, and four children at March Air Force Base, California. On 4 March 1976, President Gerald Ford awarded Day the Medal of Honor for his personal bravery while a captive in North Vietnam.  Day had been promoted to colonel while a prisoner, and he decided to remain in the Air Force in hopes of being promoted to brigadier general. Although initially too weak to resume operational flying, he spent a year in physical rehabilitation and with 13 separate medical waivers, he was returned to active flying status. He underwent conversion training to the F-4 Phantom II and was appointed vice commander of the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.  Day, in 2008, said of his imprisonment, “As awful as it sounds, no one could say we did not do well. …[Being a POW] was a major issue in my life and one that I am extremely proud of. I was just living day to day. One bad cold and I would have been dead.  His citation reads: On 26 August 1967, Col. Day was forced to eject from his aircraft over North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire. His right arm was broken in 3 places, and his left knee was badly sprained. He was immediately captured by hostile forces and taken to a prison camp where he was interrogated and severely tortured. After causing the guards to relax their vigilance, Col. Day escaped into the jungle and began the trek toward South Vietnam. Despite injuries inflicted by fragments of a bomb or rocket, he continued southward surviving only on a few berries and uncooked frogs. He successfully evaded enemy patrols and reached the Ben Hai River, where he encountered U.S. artillery barrages. With the aid of a bamboo log float, Col. Day swam across the river and entered the demilitarized zone. Due to delirium, he lost his sense of direction and wandered aimlessly for several days. After several unsuccessful attempts to signal U.S. aircraft, he was ambushed and recaptured by the Viet Cong, sustaining gunshot wounds to his left hand and thigh. He was returned to the prison from which he had escaped and later was moved to Hanoi after giving his captors false information to questions put before him. Physically, Col. Day was totally debilitated and unable to perform even the simplest task for himself. Despite his many injuries, he continued to offer maximum resistance. His personal bravery in the face of deadly enemy pressure was significant in saving the lives of fellow aviators who were still flying against the enemy. Col. Day’s conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.  John McCain, Day’s prisoner-of-war cellmate, said on Day’s death, “He was the bravest man I ever knew, and his fierce resistance and resolute leadership set the example for us in prison of how to return home with honor.