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USS Lexington Found.

Discussion in 'WWII Today' started by Phantom of the Ruhr, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. Phantom of the Ruhr

    Phantom of the Ruhr Member

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  2. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Remarkable condition.

    The F4F in this photo piqued my interest. Does anyone know who this aircraft was assigned to? Aircraft F5 from VF-3.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    VF-3? Kind of depends how you look at it. It is, indeed, an F4F-3 in VF-3 livery, but the squadron aboard Lexington when she was lost was VF-2. So, maybe a VF-2 F4F painted to look like a VF-3? Just a clever disguise?

    Huh?

    Well, it had to do to a whole lot of personnel and aircraft shuffling about between February and May 1942, but the bottom line was that when Lexington prepared to deploy to the Coral Sea area, VF-2 found itself short aviators and even shorter in serviceable aircraft. So, along about 12 April 1942, from the only available squadron on Oahu, VF-3, Lexington’s VF-2 received 12 aviators and almost a full complement of F4F-3s, a total of 19 of the 21 in the squadron. And to the eternal confusion and vexation of model builders and profile artists, the great majority of F4Fs operated by VF-2 at Coral Sea were in appearance as being from VF-3.

    Personnel wise, that meant, among other things, from VF-3, LT Noel Gayler, was the next senior in the squadron and so became the XO. Others reporting from VF-3 were: LT Albert Vorse, USN (who in the VF-2 tactical organization was assigned the F-5 mount in question); LTJG Robert Morgan, USN; LTJG Marion Dufilho, USN; LTJG Howard Clark, USN; ENS Edward Sellstrom, AV(N); ENS John Lackey, AV(N); ENS Newton Mason, AV(N); ENS Dale Peterson, AV(N); ENS Richard Rowell, AV(N); ENS Willard Eder, AV(N); and ENS Leon Hayes, AV(N). There were nine other aviators in the squadron, including 4 straight from ACTG who were assigned to VF-2, but even then, three of the non-VF-3 VF-2 aviators had orders in hand to VF-42 on Yorktown, though they did not get there until after the battle.

    Who was driving F-5 in the Battle of Coral Sea? Not a clue . . . when it was your time to launch you got in the plane that occupied your place the launch sequence, side numbers did not matter. For instance, and since most of the air group records from Lexington were lost (which is pretty much why no one is certain exactly who flew which plane), at Midway, a month later, off the top of my head, only 5 of the 25 aviators in action from VF-3 flew the planes to which they were assigned in the squadron’s tactical organization. Everyone else flew “someone else’s” airplane. One might note that even the squadron commander, Jimmie Thach, flew #23 in the morning strike escort vice his assigned #1 – though he did later fly #1 in the efforts to discourage the incoming Japanese torpedo planes.

    Something to ponder, VF-2 was, pre-war, the premier NAP squadron and the squadron insignia was quite distinctive with chief petty officer’s stripes quite prominent. That organization was broken up very early in the war and its talent (and there was a lot of talent) disbursed across the fleet to other squadrons and training activities. For example, on 28 March 42, VF-2 lost 10 of its NAPs - not to mention 8 of its brand new F4F-4s - to VF-6 on Enterprise.

    Most of the NAPs from VF-2 fleeted up to warrant rank in March and April 1942 as either warrants or chief warrants and were, by the end of 1942, commissioned as ensigns or lieutenant (jg)’s (usually a former first class was commissioned an ensign and chief petty officers became lieutenant (jg)'s.

    I would suggest that in early May 1942 everyone was just a little too busy to worry about squadron insignia . . . always something you can do later after the smoke clears.

    Rich
     
  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Glad to hear its been found...a fine ship and crew. Pity its so deep...
     
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  5. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    It does make her relatively safe from salvagers.
     
  7. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Thanks for the detailed response Rich. Sheds a lot of light on this topic. I was curious over the 4 kill markings on the F-5 aircraft given how early this was in the war.
     
  8. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    I thought that too...no divers...but what, if anything should be taken as a memorial? I would imagine that they use small sub/s to scan the ship thoroughly...would they take the ships bell if they found it? The name plate? Could they, would they bother with the/an anchor?
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    They can raise pretty much whatever they want off the Lexington...For, instance a 15-ton section of the Titanic's hull has been raised from deeper than the Lex lies. The main problem would be getting the Navy's OK to bring anything up.
     
  10. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    What a great find. Imagine discovering it in the vast Pacific. Much of it seems in pretty good shape considering that it's been there over seven decades. I hope, except for a few items like the ship's bell and nameplate, she be allowed to rest where she is.
     
  11. Terry D

    Terry D Well-Known Member

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    Great news. Some reports, however, referred to aircraft having "the five-pointed star of the US Army Air Corps." I think I saw that in the write-up from either the Telegraph or the Guardian, both of which are British.
     
  12. Rick Harris

    Rick Harris New Member

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    My uncle, William Russ was a pilot on the Lexington. Growing up I heard the story of him going into the water during the battle. Does anyone know how I can find out what squadron he was in and what he was flying?? Any info would be great.

    Thanks

    Rick Harris
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
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  13. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Welcome to the forum Rick!

    I'm sure Rich ("R Leonard") will be along shortly to provide the answers. He's a veritable walking encyclopedia of USN knowledge.
     
  14. Rick Harris

    Rick Harris New Member

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    Thanks Alan. I am looking forward to hearing from Rich.

    Rick
     
  15. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    Regret that I have no information on a naval aviator named William Russ at any point in WW2.
     
  16. Rick Harris

    Rick Harris New Member

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    I apologize that I didn't give you more information.....he was not Navy....he was a Marine pilot on the Lexington.
     
  17. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    A USMC aviator is still a naval aviator. That being said, my records of naval aviators (about 49,000 individuals last count) at this point are about 99% USN, just a few Marines here and there when assigned to squadrons, USN or USMC aboard carriers in the 1944 - 1945 timeframe. I have not even started on USMC aviators which would explain why he was not in my lists.

    But, and there’s always a but, US carrier operations in the period 7 December 1941 through 30 June 1942 are a subspecialty of the house. The record is pretty clear, there were no USMC aviators assigned to any of the Lexington Air Group squadrons.

    Wait for it, here comes what’s next . . .

    I am aware of one TSgt William McAdoo Russ, USMC, a Naval Aviation Pilot, or as they called enlisted pilots in the Marine Corps, a “flying sergeant,” who entered enlisted service on 13 March 1936. He served in MAG-25 in the Solomons in the spring of 1943. Although I am uncertain as to which of the group’s squadrons he was assigned, VMJ-152, 153, 253 or HedRon 25, I suspect,though, he was in the group HedRon. He was promoted from SSgt to TSgt sometime between 6 March and 4 April 1943.

    He received a commission as a 2LT USMC on 7 September 1943, promoted to 1LT USMC on 31 Mar 1945, to CPT USMC on 1 July 1949, and to MAJ USMC on 11 August 1953, although he appears in a later register, the 1956, as a CPT. He does not appear in the registers after 1956, however that is not a surprise as that would have been the end of 20 years total service which would have made him eligible for retirement.

    With a service entry date in 1936 it is entirely possible that he was serving in the Marine detachment (some 90 plus Marines) on USS Lexington (CV-2) during the Coral Sea action, but, since he completed the NAP course of instruction sometime in 1942, I would suspect that any assignment to USS Lexington was before being rated as an NAP. Military/Naval organizations can do silly things sometimes, but assigning a rated aviator as a rifleman on a carrier is not likely to be one of them. I have no roster for the Lexington Marine Detachment.

    Is this who we’re looking for?
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
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  18. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Rich, you are an amazing storehouse of knowledge. Whether it's him or not, you have unearthed a ton of information.
     
  19. Rick Harris

    Rick Harris New Member

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    Hey Rich,

    Thanks so much for your effort. No, this isn't my uncle. He was William S. Russ....home of record, St. Petersburg, Fla. Possibly I misunderstood his position at the time of the sinking of the Lexington and he was possibly not a pilot but an enlisted marine?? Growing up we heard stories of him going over the side with his Colt 45 which he gave my father after the war. I knew he was a Marine pilot later as he retired in the 1960's as a Captain with wings. (Yes that's kind of low on the totem pole for over 20 years.....I remember hearing he had some issues....like buzzing his parents house in St. Petersburg.) When my father was transferred to Japan with all of us tagging along in 1957 (he was Army Lt. Col at the time) My uncle Bill was also stationed there and met us at the dock and gave us the tour of Yokohama....definitely a Marine aviator.

    Yes....sometimes stories get manufactured in war, I know that. but I kind of think he was there.

    Thanks again!!


    Rick
     
  20. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    Rick -

    Don't have anything on a your uncle. I'll keep my eyes open. Never got to Japan, but, like you, I (and we're probably about the same vintage, my father made O-6, Navy, in 1956), was one of Uncle Sam's wandering vagabonds. Would not trade the moving around for anything. Never understood the kids we met who never lived anywhere else. Of course, now, my kids are grown and gone on their own, but they lived in the same house growing up and never knew the joys of "we're moving . . . in three weeks". My wife is an Army brat, her father retired after 30 years. About every three years we move all the furniture around to make the place look different. :)

    Rich
     

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