Eye Witness Account (1)


The following has been condensed from an article by author Jim Reardon.

In the raid of 4 June, 20 bombers blasted storage tanks, a warehouse, hospital, a hangar and a beached freighter, while 11 Zeros strafed at will.  Chief Petty Officer Makoto Endo led a 3-plane Zero group whose pilots were Flight Petty Officers Tsuguo Shikada and Tadayoshi Koga, 19 years old.  Koga’s Zero, serial number 4593, was light gray, with the Imperial Rising Sun insignia on its wings and fuselage.  It had left the Mitsubishi Nagoya aircraft factory on 19 February, only 3½ months earlier, so it was the latest design.

Tadayoshi Koga

Tadayoshi Koga

Earlier that day, soldiers at an US Army outpost had seen 3 Zeros shoot down a lumbering Catalina amphibian.  Most of the 7-member crew climbed into a rubber raft and began paddling to shore.  The soldiers watched in horror as the Zeros strafed the crew until all were killed.

Japanese pilot, Endo led his section to Dutch Harbor where it joined the other 8 Zeros in strafing.  It was then [according to Shikada, interviewed in 1984] that Koga’s Zero was hit by ground fire.  An Army intelligence team later reported, “Bullet holes entered the plane from both upper and lower sides.”  One of the bullets severed the return oil line.  A Navy photo taken during the raid shows a Zero trailing what appears to be smoke and there is little doubt that this is Zero 4593.

"Koga's Zero" by Jim Reardon

“Koga’s Zero” by Jim Reardon

After the raid, 8 American Curtiss Warhawk P-40s short down 4 Val [Aichi D3A] dive bombers 30 miles west of Dutch Harbor.  In the swirling, minutes-long dogfight, Lt. John J. Cape shot down a plane identified as a Zero.  Another Zero was almost instantly on its tail.  He climbed and rolled, trying to evade, but that was the wrong maneuver to escape a Zero.  The enemy fighter easily stayed with him, firing its 2 deadly 20-mm cannon and 2 7.7-mm machine-guns.  Cape and his plane plunged into the sea.

Another Zero shot up the P-40 of Lt. Winfield McIntyre, who survived a crash landing with a dead engine.  Endo and Shikada accompanied Koga as he flew his oil-spewing airplane to Akutan Island.  A Japanese submarine waited nearby to pickup downed pilots.  The 3 Zeros circled low over the green, treeless island.  At a level, grassy valley floor half a mile inland, Koga lowered his wheels and flaps and eased toward a 3-point landing.  As his main wheel touched, they dug in, and the Zero flipped onto its back, tossing water, grass and gobs of mud.  The valley floor was a bog.

The Thies PBY crew

The Thies PBY crew

Endo and Shikada circled.  There was no sign of life.  If Koga was dead, their duty was to destroy the downed fighter, but KOga was a friend and they couldn’t bring themselves to shoot.  Endo and Shikada abandoned the downed fighter and returned to the IJN Ryujo.

The wrecked Zero lay in the bog for more than a month, unseen by US patrol planes and offshore ships.  On 10 July a US Navy Catalina (PBY) amphibian with a gunner named Wall called, “Hey, there’s an airplane on the ground down there.  It has meatballs on the wings.”  The patrol plane’s pilot, Lt. William Thies, descended for a closer look.  Back at Dutch Harbor, Thies persuaded his squadron commander to let him take a party to the downed plane….

Ensign Larson on Koga's Zero

Ensign Larson on Koga’s Zero

To be continued…..

[The IJN Ryujo was sunk two months later in the eastern Solomons by carrier aircraft from the USS Saratoga.  Japanese Chief Petty Officer Makato Endo was killed in action at Rabaul on 12 October 1943.  Petty Officer Tsuguo Shikada survived the war and became a banker.]


Cold Humor – 





Farewell Salutes – 

John Ambruso Sr. – Westbrook, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 1st & 9th Bomber Group

Lester Card – Calgary, CAN; RC Air Force (Ret. 28 years), WWII, ETO

Gerald DeBoer – Kalamazoo, MI; US Navy, WWII

Aleutians, 1943

Aleutians, 1943

Ed Freeman – Boise, ID; US Navy, WWII, USS Cacapon/ US Army, Korea, Sgt/ US Air Force, Vietnam, helicopter pilot, 1st Cavalry Division, Captain

Sherwood B. Griffith – Carver, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, bombardier

Donald Johnson Sr. – Endwell, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 navigator, 36 missions

Henry Koren Jr. – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army, Colonel (ret. 30 years), Ranger, Vietnam

Joseph Langdell (100) – Yuba City, CA; US Navy, WWII, USS Arizona survivor

Van Mayhall – Baton Rouge, LA; US Army, Capt.-Col., WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Janet Moir – Warworth, NZ; British Navy WREN, WWII

Richard Powers – Portland, OR; US Army, Lt.Colonel(Ret. 24 years), WWII, Alaska 10th Mountain Division & ETO/ Korea, MP, Bronze Star

Dean Smith – Chapel Hill, NC; US Air Force, basketball coach

Hershel ‘Roy’ Womack, Sr. – Rolla, MO; US Army, Colonel (Ret. 39 years), WWII


About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on February 9, 2015, in First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 66 Comments.

  1. What an amazing story! Can’t wait to move on to part 2.


  2. Need to know the ending to this story, I know there are atrocities in all wars but the blatant shooting of downed airmen in a life raft is incomprehendible.
    Thanks for the link to the book gp.


  3. Tried to figure out how to send this to you for info, seems the only way is to post it as a comment gp, thought it might be of interest.

    George Gobel comedian, Army Air Corps, taught fighter pilots.

    Johnny Carson made a big deal about it once on the Tonight Show, to which George said “the Japs didn’t get past us.”

    Sterling Hayden, US Marines and OSS. Smuggled guns into Yugoslavia and parachuted into Croatia. Silver Star.

    James Stewart, US Army Air Corps. Bomber pilot who rose to the rank of General.

    Ernest Borgnine, US Navy. Gunners Mate 1c, destroyer USS Lamberton. 10 years active duty. Discharged 1941, re-enlisted after Pearl Harbor .

    Ed McMahon, US Marines. Fighter Pilot. (Flew OE-1 Bird Dogs over Korea as well.)

    Telly Savalas, US Army.

    Walter Matthau , US Army Air Corps., B-24 Radioman/Gunner and cryptographer.

    Steve Forrest, US Army. Wounded, Battle of the Bulge.

    Jonathan Winters, USMC. Battleship USS Wisconsin and Carrier USS Bon Homme Richard. Anti-aircraft gunner, Battle of Okinawa.

    Paul Newman, US Navy Rear seat gunner/radsioman, torpedo bombers of USS Bunker Hill.

    Kirk Douglas, US Navy. Sub-chaser in the Pacific. Wounded in action and medically discharged.

    Robert Mitchum, US Army.

    Dale Robertson, US Army. Tank Commander in North Africa under Patton. Wounded twice. Battlefield Commission.

    Henry Fonda, US Navy. Destroyer USS Satterlee.

    John Carroll, US Army Air Corps. Pilot in North Africa . Broke his back in a crash.

    Lee Marvin US Marines. Sniper. Wounded in action on Saipan . Buried in Arlington National Cemetery , Sec. 7A next to Greg Boyington and Joe Louis.

    Art Carney, US Army. Wounded on Normandy beach, D-Day. Limped for the rest of his life.

    Wayne Morris, US Navy fighter pilot, USS Essex. Downed seven Japanese fighters.

    Rod Steiger, US Navy. Was aboard one of the ships that launched the Doolittle Raid.

    Tony Curtis, US Navy. Sub tender USS Proteus. In Tokyo Bay for the surrender of Japan .

    Larry Storch. US Navy. Sub tender USS Proteus with Tony Curtis.

    Forrest Tucker, US Army. Enlisted as a private, rose to Lieutenant.

    Robert Montgomery, US Navy.

    George Kennedy, US Army. Enlisted after Pearl Harbor , stayed in sixteen years.

    Mickey Rooney, US Army under Patton. Bronze Star.

    Denver Pyle, US Navy. Wounded in the Battle of Guadalcanal . Medically discharged.

    Burgess Meredith, US Army Air Corps.

    DeForest Kelley, US Army Air Corps.

    Robert Stack, US Navy. Gunnery Officer.

    Neville Brand , US Army, Europe . Was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart.

    Tyrone Power, US Marines. Transport pilot in the Pacific Theater.

    Charlton Heston, US Army Air Corps. Radio operator and aerial gunner on a B-25, Aleutians .

    Danny Aiello, US Army. Lied about his age to enlist at 16. Served three years.

    James Arness, US Army. As an infantryman, he was severely wounded at Anzio , Italy .

    Efram Zimbalist, Jr., US Army. Purple Heart for a severe wound received at Huertgen Forest .

    Mickey Spillane, US Army Air Corps, Fighter Pilot and later Instructor Pilot.

    Rod Serling. US Army. 11th Airborne Division in the Pacific. He jumped at Tagaytay in the Philippines and was later wounded in Manila .

    Gene Autry, US Army Air Corps. Crewman on transports that ferried supplies over “The Hump” in the China-

    Burma-India Theater.

    Wiliam Holden , US Army Air Corps.

    Alan Hale Jr, US Coast Guard.

    Harry Dean Stanton, US Navy. Battle of Okinawa .

    Russell Johnson, US Army Air Corps. B-24 crewman who was awarded Purple Heart when his aircraft was shot down by the Japanese in the Philippines .

    William Conrad, US Army Air Corps. Fighter Pilot.

    Jack Klugman, US Army.

    Frank Sutton, US Army. Took part in 14 assault landings, including Leyte, Luzon, Bataan and Corregidor .

    Jackie Coogan, US Army Air Corps. Volunteered for gliders and flew troops and materials into Burma behind enemy lines.

    Tom Bosley, US Navy.

    Claude Akins, US Army. Signal Corps. , Burma and the Philippines .

    Chuck Connors, US Army. Tank-warfare instructor.

    Harry Carey Jr., US Navy.

    Mel Brooks, US Army. Combat Engineer. Saw action in the Battle of the Bulge.

    Robert Altman, US Army Air Corps. B-24 Co-Pilot.

    Pat Hingle, US Navy. Destroyer USS Marshall

    Fred Gwynne, US Navy. Radioman.

    Karl Malden, US Army Air Corps. 8th Air Force, NCO.

    Earl Holliman. US Navy. Lied about his age to enlist. Discharged after a year when the Navy found out.

    Rock Hudson, US Navy. Aircraft mechanic, the Philippines .

    Harvey Korman, US Navy.

    Aldo Ray. US Navy. UDT frogman, Okinawa .

    Don Knotts, US Army, Pacific Theater.

    Don Rickles, US Navy aboard USS Cyrene.

    Harry Dean Stanton, US Navy. Served aboard an LST in the Battle of Okinawa .

    Robert Stack, US Navy. Gunnery Instructor.

    Soupy Sales, US Navy. Served on USS Randall in the South Pacific.

    Lee Van Cleef, US Navy. Served aboard a sub chaser then a mine sweeper.

    Clifton James, US Army, South Pacific. Was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.

    Ted Knight, US Army, Combat Engineers.

    Jack Warden, US Navy, 1938-1942, then US Army, 1942-1945. 101st Airborne Division.

    Don Adams. US Marines. Wounded on Guadalcanal , then served as a Drill Instructor.

    James Gregory, US Navy and US Marines.

    Brian Keith, US Marines. Radioman/Gunner in Dauntless dive-bombers.

    Fess Parker, US Navy and US Marines. Booted from pilot training for being too tall, joined Marines as a radio operator.

    Charles Durning. US Army. Landed at Normandy on D-Day. Shot multiple times. Awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Survived Malmedy Massacre.

    Raymond Burr, US Navy. Shot in the stomach on Okinawa and medically discharged.

    Hugh O’Brian, US Marines.

    Robert Ryan, US Marines.

    Eddie Albert , US Coast Guard. Bronze Star with Combat V for saving several Marines under heavy fire as pilot of a landing craft during the invasion of Tarawa .

    Cark Gable, US Army Air Corps. B-17 gunner over Europe .

    Charles Bronson, US Army Air Corps. B-29 gunner, wounded in action.

    Peter Graves, US Army Air Corps.

    Buddy Hackett, US Army anti-aircraft gunner.

    Victor Mature, US Coast Guard.

    Jack Palance, US Army Air Corps. Severely injured bailing out of a burning B-24 bomber.

    Robert Preston, US Army Air Corps. Intelligence Officer

    Cesar Romero, US Coast Guard. Coast Guard. Participated in the invasions of Tinian and Saipan on the assault transport USS Cavalier.

    Norman Fell, US Army Air Corps., Tail Gunner, Pacific Theater.

    Jason Robards, US Navy. was aboard heavy cruiser USS Northampton when it was sunk off Guadalcanal . Also served on the USS Nashville during the invasion of the Philippines , surviving a kamikaze hit that caused 223 casualties.

    Steve Reeves, US Army , Philippines .

    Dennis Weaver, US Navy. Pilot.

    Robert Taylor, US Navy. Instructor Pilot.

    Randolph Scott. Tried to enlist in the Marines but was rejected due to injuries sustained in US Army, World War 1.

    Ronald Reagan. US Army. Was a 2nd Lt. in the Cavalry Reserves before the war. His poor eyesight kept him from being sent overseas with his unit when war came so he transferred to the Army Air Corps Public Relations Unit where he served for the duration.

    John Wayne. Declared “4F medically unfit” due to pre-existing injuries, he nonetheless attempted to volunteer three times (Army, Navy and Film Corps.) so he gets honorable mention.

    And of course we have Audie Murphy, America ‘s most-decorated soldier, who became a Hollywood star as a result of his US Army service that included his being awarded the Medal of Honor.

    Would someone please remind me again how many of today’s Hollywood elite, sports celebs and politicians put their careers on hold to enlist for service in Iraq or Afghanistan ?

    The only one who even comes close was Pat Tillman, who turned down a contract offer of $3.6 million over three years from the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the US Army after September, 11, 2001 and serve as a Ranger in Afghanistan , where he died in 2004.

    But rather than being lauded for his choice and his decision to put his country before his career, he was mocked and derided by many of his peers.

    Our generation grew up watching, being entertained by and laughing with so many of these fine people, never really knowing what they contributed to the war effort. Like millions of Americans during the WWII, there was a job that needed doing they didn’t question, they went and did it, those that came home returned to their now new normal life and carried on, very few ever saying what they did or saw. They took it as their “responsibility”, their “duty” to Country, to protect and preserve our freedoms and way of life, not just for themselves but for all future generations to come.


    • VERY WELL SAID, IAN! And if you look back at all you just contributed, you will understand why I prefer data submitted by my friends and viewers to be right here for ALL to see. Thank you very much!!
      [hard to read thru that list and NOT tear up!]

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    As always a terrific article, but I have to admit that the cartoons were particularly funny.


  5. Thank you lieber Gruß und einen schönen Tag Gislinde

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “The soldiers watched in horror as the Zeros strafed the crew until all were killed.” Very hard to fathom. –Curt


  7. I am now curious to know what was the maneuver to escape a Zero.


    • Lt. Cape ‘climbed and rolled’ in his effort to out maneuver the Zero, the Japanese aircraft easily stayed with him and was able to shoot him down. I appreciate your curiosity and interest!


  8. I’m looking forward to the next post . I do think it’s a good idea to keep posts not too long . Keeps us wanting more .
    I think it’s interesting that , when I was a kid , “Made In Japan” , meant it was junk . We had a lot of metal toys that fell apart . But , the Japanese had produced the superior Zero , etc . , and now produce fine products . That old ” Made In Japan” saying , meaning it was junk , was a post-war phenomenon , I guess , during a time that their factories were in ruins , I suppose . ( I know , I know —– getting off the topic ! )


    • That’s quite alright, Dan, and it does bring up an interesting point. Their pre-war production was decent, they were just low on resources and today they are major producers of cars, electronics, etc. – I can only surmise that during our childhood, they were mass producing junk to replenish their monetary flow. Nowadays, the “junk” term seems to apply to “Made in China” – doesn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. These eye-witness accounts are frighteningly real. Pierre–wonderful pictures. Thanks for sharing.


    • I like to include the eye witness accounts for just that reason, Jacqui; they can explain what happened precisely. I’ll pass on your compliments to Pierre for the previous post – thanks for being such a loyal friend.


  10. Interesting story, Everett! Will look forward to the next post since you cut it off just right 🙂 Love the funnies especially ” no app for that”.


  11. The strafing of downed pilots shows the all out effort the Japanese exhibited in their war making. Their concept of fair play and mercy or respect was quite different than those of Americans. Hard to read examples of what we would consider ‘War Crimes”. I’m sure there were times our GI’s did some awful things but not on the scale of the Imperial troops. Stuff of gritty non-fiction and the basis for many novels and screenplays.

    A good study for the modern day evils our world now faces. We should learn from our bloody history and consider the response of our elected leaders to the present threat.


    • The Japanese were on a 6 month “high” from the victories they were hearing about from their superiors; a disease often suffered by conquering troops. Unfortunately, the Allied side has it’s own horrors of war. It would be outstanding if our present learned from the history, but they rarely do.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Now I can’t wait for the second installment! Interesting post, as usual.


  13. When the Japs strafed downed Americans and killed them, did that make the rest of the American pilots do the same to any downed Japs? In the Great War, my Grandad attacked the Germans several times with the order of “Take no prisoners!” He never seemed to feel very guilty about it though!


    • Oh, I’m sure it must have, John. That old saying – “All’s fair in love and war…” – must have come from somewhere. The Americans already felt they were retaliating for Pearl Harbor. It is understandable that your Granddad did not feel much guilt about what he did, he was a soldier doing his job and protecting his family and country.


  14. His Zero trailing smoke…


  15. Another picture of the Zero


  16. Wünsche dir eine gute neue Woche lieber Gruß Gislind


  17. I am waiting for episode two – impatiently


  18. This is a great story and I like the cartoons today.


  19. Very interesting story by the way.


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