Thursday, February 08, 2007

Torpedo Squadron 8: Part Seven

part 7 of 8 parts


There was one plane to Gay’s left, close by, and another in front of him and below the nose of his plane. He lowered the nose to see what plane it was and it was gone. When he looked to the left, that plane was gone too. Now there was only Gay’s plane left. The Skipper had lost his hope of “a favorable tactical situation.” "The worst” had “come to the worst,” and there was “only one plane left to make a final run-in.” Tex Gay doesn’t remember whether at the moment the Skipper’s message actually flooded through his mind again, but he had seen the Skipper die and he was determined “to go in and get a hit.”

Then the voice of Radioman Bob Huntington came into his ears over the intercom from the rear seat. “They got me,” it said. “Are you hurt bad?” asked Gay. “Can you move?” There was no answer. Tex took his eyes off the waves long enough to see that Huntington was lifeless, his head limp against the cockpit. As he turned back, he felt a stab in his upper left arm. The hole in his jacket sleeve told him what had happened. He shifted the stick to his left hand, ripped his sleeve, pressed a machine-gun slug from the wound with his thumb. It seemed like something worth saving, so he sought to put it in the pocket of his jacket. When he found his pocket openings held shut by his safety belt and parachute straps and life jacket, he popped it into his mouth.

He kicked his rudder to make his plane slip and skid so as to avoid the Zeros. He was heading straight for the carrier that the Skipper had picked out. The ship turned hard to starboard, seeking to put its bow forward and avoid his torpedo. He swung to the right and aimed for the port bow, about a quarter length back. When he pushed the button to release his torpedo nothing happened. Apparently the electrical releasing equipment had been knocked out. Since his left arm was practically useless from the bullet and a shrapnel wound in his hand, he held the stick between his knees and released the torpedo with the emergency lever. By now he was only 800 yd. from the ship and close to the water. He managed to execute a flipper, turning past the bridge of the carrier and clearing the bow by about 10 ft. As he passed over the flight deck he saw Jap crewmen running in all directions to avoid his crashing plane. He zoomed up and over but as he sought to turn back, four Zeros dived on him. An explosive bullet knocked out his left rudder pedal and he careened into the sea, a quarter of a mile from the Jap carrier.


continued in next post

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