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VT-84 "Wolf Gang" Squadron on USS Bunker Hill (CV-17)

March - April 1945 Engagements:

  • TG 58.3 Japanese Islands (Tokyo Raids),
  • Sinking of Yamato, Okinawa

PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION - USS Bunker Hill (CV-17)

  • Air Group 84 (VF-84, VB-84, VT-84, VMF-221, VMF-451): 16 Feb - 11 May 45 - Japan, Bonins, Ryukyus.
  • VT-84 = 15x Grumman TBM-3D AVENGER
  • VB-84 = 15x Curtiss SB2C-4E HELLDIVER
  • VF-84 = 27x Chance-Vought F4U-1D CORSAIR,
                    4x Grumman F6F-5N HELLCAT
                    6x Grumman F6F-5P HELLCAT
  • VMF-221 = 18x Chance-Vought F4U-1D CORSAIR
  • VMF-451 = 18x Chance-Vought F4U-1D CORSAIR

This was the first fast-carrier deployment with three Corsair squadrons. An interviewed veteran said that all Corsair pilots shared the same aircraft whither they were Navy or Marine Corsairs. There were no markings on the planes other then the arrow on the tail and the number: You were given a number on a plane to fly and you had to locate it on deck. VMF-451 moved on board USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) on 24 January 1945, along with VF-84 and VMF-221.

They were collectively known as the "Wolf Gang" and flew their first combat sorties on 16 (&17) February, against targets near Tokyo. The yellow cowling was used for these raids, because they were so close to the Japanese mainland, the Navy wanted an easy way to identify friendlies coming back from the raid.

On 7 April 1945 Bunker Hill's planes took part in a Fast Carrier Task Force attack on a Japanese naval force in the East China Sea. The enemy battleship Yamato, one cruiser, and four destroyers were sunk during Operation Ten-Go. On the morning of 11 May 1945, while supporting the Okinawa invasion, USS Bunker Hill was hit and severely damaged by two Kamikazes. A Japanese Zero fighter appeared from a low cloud, dived onto the flight deck and dropped a 250-kilogram bomb, which went through the vessel and exploded in the sea. The Zero then crashed onto the flight deck, destroying parked planes full of fuel, causing a huge fire. The remains of the Zero went over the deck and dropped into the sea. Then, a scant 30 seconds later, a second Zero, piloted by Ensign Kiyoshi Ogawa, plunged into a suicide dive. The Zero went through the AA fire, dropped a 250-kilogram bomb, and crashed into the flight deck near the control tower as Kamikaze were trained to aim for near the island superstructure (as was the case with the USS Sangamon). The bomb penetrated Bunker Hill's flight deck and exploded. Gasoline fires flamed up and several explosions took place. The ship suffered the loss of 346 men killed, 43 missing, and 264 wounded. This was the single most deadly Kamikaze attack on a US ship during WWII. Although badly crippled she managed to return to Bremerton, WA via Pearl Harbor.

Citations For Award of The Navy Cross
WAINWRIGHT, PHILIP N. Citation: The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Philip N. Wainwright, Lieutenant, U.S. Navy (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane in Torpedo Squadron EIGHTY-FOUR (VT-84), embarked from the U.S.S. BUNKER HILL (CV-17), during an attack against the Japanese Battleship Yamato off Kyushu, Japan, on 7 April 1945. Displaying great skill and courage, Lieutenant Wainwright pressed home his torpedo attack and despite extremely intense antiaircraft fire from all caliber weapons on the battleship and the surrounding screen. His torpedo was one of thirteen dropped in a concerted attack by the squadron, which cored at least nine hits on the battleship almost simultaneously. Without flinching he carried his torpedo in to close range through adverse weather conditions and intense enemy fire which included the main batteries, contributing materially to the complete destruction of the capital ship a short time later. His courage, skill, determination and unswerving devotion to duty were at all times in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
WALSH, RICHARD JOHN, JR. Synopsis: The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Richard John Walsh, Jr., Lieutenant, Junior Grade, U.S. Navy (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane in Torpedo Squadron EIGHTY-FOUR (VT-84), embarked from the U.S.S. BUNKER HILL (CV-17), during an attack against the Japanese Battleship Yamato off Kyushu, Japan, on 7 April 1945. Displaying great skill and courage, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Walsh pressed home his torpedo attack and despite extremely intense antiaircraft fire from all caliber weapons on the battleship and the surrounding screen, and was shot down before he could release his torpedo. His courage, skill, determination and unswerving devotion to duty were at all times in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country. Home Town: Phoenix, Arizona
WEAR, ROBERT C. Citation: The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Robert C. Wear, Ensign, U.S. Navy (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane in Torpedo Squadron EIGHTY-FOUR (VT-84), embarked from the U.S.S. BUNKER HILL (CV-17), during an attack against the Japanese Battleship Yamato off Kyushu, Japan, on 7 April 1945. Displaying great skill and courage, Ensign Wear pressed home his torpedo attack and despite extremely intense antiaircraft fire from all caliber weapons on the battleship and the surrounding screen. His torpedo was one of thirteen dropped in a concerted attack by the squadron, which cored at least nine hits on the battleship almost simultaneously. Without flinching he carried his torpedo in to close range through adverse weather conditions and intense enemy fire which included the main batteries, contributing materially to the complete destruction of the capital ship a short time later. His courage, skill, determination and unswerving devotion to duty were at all times in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
WEBSTER, CLINTON R. Citation: The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Clinton R. Webster, Ensign, U.S. Navy (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane in Torpedo Squadron EIGHTY-FOUR (VT-84), embarked from the U.S.S. BUNKER HILL (CV-17), during an attack against the Japanese Battleship Yamato off Kyushu, Japan, on 7 April 1945. Displaying great skill and courage, Ensign Webster pressed home his torpedo attack and despite extremely intense antiaircraft fire from all caliber weapons on the battleship and the surrounding screen. His torpedo was one of thirteen dropped in a concerted attack by the squadron, which cored at least nine hits on the battleship almost simultaneously. Without flinching he carried his torpedo in to close range through adverse weather conditions and intense enemy fire which included the main batteries, contributing materially to the complete destruction of the capital ship a short time later. His courage, skill, determination and unswerving devotion to duty were at all times in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
ELINGS, WILLIAM ARTHUR Citation: The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to William Arthur Elings, Ensign, U.S. Navy (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane in Torpedo Squadron EIGHTY-FOUR (VT-84), embarked from the U.S.S. BUNKER HILL (CV-17), during an attack against the Japanese Battleship Yamato off Kyushu, Japan, on 7 April 1945. Displaying great skill and courage, Ensign Elings pressed home his torpedo attack and despite extremely intense antiaircraft fire from all caliber weapons on the battleship and the surrounding screen. His torpedo was one of thirteen dropped in a concerted attack by the squadron, which cored at least nine hits on the battleship almost simultaneously. Without flinching he carried his torpedo in to close range through adverse weather conditions and intense enemy fire which included the main batteries, contributing materially to the complete destruction of the capital ship a short time later. His courage, skill, determination and unswerving devotion to duty were at all times in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


Rocky Mountain Wing of the Commemorative Air Force
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