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Kingfisher Float Plane Makes Rescue: 9 August 1945

"On August 9, 1945 we were up to the north of Honshu operating in the area of Hokkido and the northern tip of Honshu. Weather was again bad: rain, fog, low ceilings and poor visibility. Some 11 pilots had been shot down in the area of Ominato. We had the rescue duty and were prepared for a long flight into the area in the late afternoon, but it was canceled due to darkness. Very early the next morning, we were launched to pick up pilots in the area of Ominato Bay, which had an Army base on the southern part, an airfield and naval base to the north. We had escorts of 4 F6F’s and 4 F4U’s and upon arrival in the area; one of the fighters spotted a pilot on the beach waving madly. By this time the destroyers at the naval base, anti-aircraft fire from the airfield and Army bases opened up with a fury. There was a strong wind blowing into the beach and the surf was quite high. Lt. Jacobs landed to pick up the pilot while I tried to dodge anti-aircraft fire.

From my vantagepoint, it appeared that the pilot was having difficulty getting through the surf and the Japanese were firing what appeared to be 5-inch shells all around the plane on the water. After some time, the plane started a take-off run, but soon it was porposing badly and unable to get airborne. I then flew alongside and discovered no pilot. What had happened was that the pilot on the beach could not get through the surf to board the plane, so Lt. Jacobs was standing with one foot in the cockpit and one on the wing attempting to get a line to the pilot to pull him thorough the surf. Jacobs lost his balance and fell into the water and in the process, knocked the throttle full open.

Now both pilots were wildly waving from the beach. I landed, taxied to the beach, blipped the engine with full flaps, and backed through the surf onto the beach. I told Jacobs to help the other pilot into the plane and I would send help for him - this idea didn’t set well and I soon had two very large and very wet people crammed into the back seat, how they managed to get into the cockpit, I’ll never know, but the alternative was unacceptable at the moment.

Recognizing that I would have difficulty with navigation, weather and fuel with the unbalanced load I was carrying, I intended to land at sea near the rescue sub. However, after some deliberate thought, I decided to try to make it back to some ship in the fleet. Fortunately we picked up the ZB signal and made it back to the ship with NO fuel left aboard. So on August 10, 1945, I picked up the first and only downed pilot from within Japan proper, not one but two.

The war was over a few days later and I returned home. That recovery was my last flight in an OS2U Kingfisher."

-Commander Almon P. Oliver, USN (Ret)

Lt. Ralph J. Jacobs and Lt. (jg) Oliver were both awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for this rescue.

 

 


1999 The Battleship USS North Carolina Commission
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Last updated: July 14, 1999.