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July 04, 2014

July 4, 1944 Iwo Jima

On this day in 1944 the pilots of VF-31 ate their breakfast at a quarter of four in the morning, and went into battle. At the Bonin Islands, 500 miles away from the Japanese mainland and they were digging in and fighting hard.

This would be the first deep penetration into the Japanese homeland and it would be met with some of the fiercest fighting by some of the finest Japanese pilots, equipped with the latest fighter aircraft that were as yet encountered. The pilots stationed at the airfields on Iwo Jima would be defending the Japanese homeland as the Bonin Island group had been a part of Japan since 1875. Iwo Jima had been undergoing reinforcement by the Japanese since June 8th when Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi was put in charge of fortifying the island. By the time the US naval aircraft made their first assault on the morning of July 4th the Japanese were fully ready for them.

It was an airfield attack and VF-31 was top cover at 15,000 feet. The Japanese climbed to 20,000 and dove out of the sun.

The American naval aviators killed 9 Zeroes, a Jill and a Tony (bad ass modern fighter in 1944).

Three American pilots died in this engagement.

Lt (jg) Haig G. Elezian, Jr.
Lt (jg) Frank Hancock
Lt (jg) Malcolm L. Loomis

This happened 70 years ago. God rest the fallen and happy Independence Day everyone!

Bonus Casa Dave vid below the thingy

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posted by Dave In Texas at 12:34 PM

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