Tribute

A portrait of Leland Davis surrounded by his family.

A portrait of Leland Davis surrounded by his family.

Ensign Leland LaFroy Davis, US Navy Service #0-146517, Mississippi

The following is based on an article by Leann Davis Alspaugh, previously published in The Hedgehog Review.

The snow-clogged islands [Aleutians] were considered strategically important and the push to wrest control of them from the Japanese took more than a year.  Brian Garfield chronicled this “forgotten battle” vividly in his 1969 book, “The Thousand-Mile War.”  A small section of that book details the actions of Leann’s uncle, Leland Davis.

Ensign Davis and his crew flew as part of a squadron of PBY-5A Catalinas.  Hardly fighter planes, the Catalinas were designed to transport men and equipment; they nevertheless proved to be valuable assets in the siege of Kiska Harbor.  In Garfield’s words, the planes looked like “a brood of huge chicks” as they went into action supplying fuel, oil, parts, ammunition and bombs to the men on the ground and in the air.

Maneuvering a PBY out of the ice.

Maneuvering a PBY out of the ice.

On 10 June 1942, Davis sighted a Japanese super-submarine off Tanaga and dropped bombs and depth-charges.  The sub turned out to be an I-boat sent to pick up the pilot of a downed Zero and was merely damaged by Davis’ actions.  The following day, the ensign and his crew were ordered to prepare to attack Kiska Harbor with everything they had regardless of the weather.

Following the attack of the First Air Force on Kiska, the Catalinas set off, heavily loaded down and experiencing poor visibility, the planes and pilots began to show the strain.  Flying low, the crews began to hear the brittle airframes crack and pop and watched warily as the wings flapped like a bird’s.

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US Navy Cross

 

After his first bombing run, Davis returned with his damaged aircraft to reload and refuel.  He also brought back a crewman KIA.  Ready to go, he flew back out to rejoin the blitz which would continue for 3 more days.  The Japanese kept up a steady stream of antiaircraft fire and before long the crews nicknamed Kiska the “PBY Elimination Center.”

It was first thought that Ensign Davis’ plane crashed in the water after being hit by machine-gun fire.  In 2002, Leland’s sister received a phone call from a genealogist saying that her brother’s body had been found.  A Canadian biologist studying near Kiska Volcano discovered a life vest, parachute, 2 parachute packs, leather boots and a sweater.  The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command excavated the site and unearthed the aircraft and the remains of 7 servicemen in 2003.

aircrew-06141942-gravesite-photo-september-2006-001 (800x600)

Today, all seven rest in peace under a common marker that states, “Aircraft Accident – Alaska, June 14, 1942.”  Elwin Alford, Albert J. Gyorfi, John H. Hathaway, Dee Hall, Robert F. Keller, Robert A. Smith and Leland L. Davis, the Eternal PBY Crew.

Click on images to enlarge.

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And the Cold goes on….

WAKE UP!!

WAKE UP!!

WHO LEFT THE GARAGE OPEN?

WHO LEFT THE GARAGE OPEN?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cold-weather1

firewood (800x580)

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Brisko – Mountain View, NY; US Army (Ret. 22 years), Vietnam

enlarge to read

enlarge to read

Dennis Crooke – Paeroa, NZ; RNZ Army # 632212, WWII, J Force

Robert Fewster – Ballarat, AUS; RA Air Force # 449872

Kyle Halford – Fayetteville, Ar, US Army, Afghanistan, 21st Signal

Melvin Knapp – Vine Grove, KY; US Army, Korea, Vietnam

Ruth Lang – Sheboygan, WI; US Navy WAVE, WWII, nurse

Cecil Matthews – Houston, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO

Ralph Reeder Sr. – Dakota Dunes, SD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

David Thomas Sr. – Mobile, AL; US Army, Korea, MP

Iver Sonderby – Kingman, AZ & ND; US Navy, Korea, Chief Petty Officer 3rd Class

Ronald Weber – Emmett, ID; US Navy, Vietnam, SeaBee, dog trainer, Purple Heart

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About GP Cox

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

Posted on February 23, 2015, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 68 Comments.

  1. Thanks. A visit here always worthwhile – informative and moving. Regards Thom.

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  2. What an amazing story. And I am sorry to hear that everyone ‘hates’ Florida at the moment. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great detailed account of the role and participants, in the Catalina involvement in the Aleutians during the war.
    It was great to read the ending, with the finding of Ensign Davis’s plane and their remains.

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    • I was quite amazed when I read that story – knew I would have to share it. I thank you for your constant praise [you’re giving me a big head 🙄 ], I am truly lucky to have a person like you as a friend! Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am just amazed at the detail you include in your posts…you make me feel as if I were there…in person…experiencing it when it happened. Thanks for your hard work…these stories will be preserved for eternity! ❤

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  5. As always, a very well written and thoughtful article. Thank for your continued effort to explore and share some the smaller bits of history that get left out of the mainstream teaching of history.Small bits that are often incredibly interesting and meaningful parts of greater story.

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  6. That is chilling. How wonderful his body was found. Ensigns are such new Naval officers–such an awful time to have their career end. Of course, any time is awful.

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  7. A really informative post, thank you. It is wonderful to think that these men could still receive a proper burial so long after they were killed. And just as wonderful that they will remain together for eternity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought the same, John. We do think alike. It makes us hopeful as there are still teams out there looking for the bodies, these happened to be discovered accidentally.

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  8. How poignant that the family finally had information after all these years. It must have been heart-warming and heart-renching at the same time, to be reliving the family stories of Ensign Davis.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Photographs always bring the story home…where words often don’t articulate. Great job, as always!!! Can you believe today-the 23rd-is the 70th anniversary of Joe Rosenthal’s classic “Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima” photograph!!

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    • Yes, I am aware, but thank you mentioning it. Being that it was staged publicity and only the beginning of so many battles, I did not want to make a big deal out of it. I can appreciate the patriotism it has inspired for 70 years though.

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  10. Closure, always so very important.

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  11. A bittersweet story. Love the Florida jokes, of course! I’ve got 81 right now and you can probably top that!

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  12. An astonishing and touching story. The Aleutian side of WWII is so often forgotten – yet to my mind was just as critical and much harder-fought, partly because of the conditions but also because it was effectively at the bottom of the food chain when it came to allocating forces and resources. A point that makes the bravery of Davis and his crew – their dogged determination, ultimately to the cost of their lives – all the more poignant.

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    • Thank you for saying that so much more poignantly than I ever could! The Pacific had to beg for every man and every piece of equipment as it was – Alaska was after them, as you stated. An afterthought for D.C.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. So important to share history before it is completely lost. Stay warm. Frozen roads and sleet here in north Texas. Everything shut down.

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    • Still?! I’m doing my best with the history part, but keeping cool will now be the prime weather objective – we were in the 80’s yesterday and I do not see any more winter for FL on the horizon.

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  14. Interesting story and at least the family got closure but it is sad. Smiling at the humor especially the garage door left open. Don’t hate FL but at 6 above here could you some warmth!

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    • Thank you for reading the story, Kathy. When it comes to the constant snow, I suppose you need to laugh to keep from crying? We are getting warm and I’m dreading it – once it turns hot around here – it doesn’t stop!! [we all have things to gripe about]. 😉

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  15. While our snow, ice and cold seem terrible, can’t imagine fighting a battle in such conditions. Such brave men! Cute cartoons!

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  16. A moving report about Ensign Davis. Condolences and thank you to everyone connected with his story. There is a mis-statement regarding the PBY’s design purpose. Its primary mission was always that of a patrol bomber; hence the P(atrol) B(omber) designation. If it had been designed as a transport its designation would have used an R — as in R4D for the Navy version of the USAAF’s C-47. Bombers modified for transport mission did not retain their original designations. For example, an early transport version of the Consolidated B-24 was designated C-82. The C stood for cargo. A few B-17s were converted also, and were designated C-109. That said, the article about Ensign Davis was informative and inspirational. Thank you for sharing it.

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    • You are quite right Job. In condensing this article, I should have taken it upon myself to leave that statement out. I do not know The author personally, so I do Not know why she made that statement.

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  17. A wonderfully written tribute to Ensign Davis. And to learn of their uncle’s fate after 60 years… I wish his parents could have been around…

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  18. Most touching ending…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. That it should have been an accident renders this all the more tragic

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you wünsche dir auch eine gute Woche liebe Grüße Gislinde

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.

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  22. Thank you Ensign Davis and the rest of the crew for your service.

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Memorial Day – 2015 | Kevin Barrett's Blog

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