Eye Witness Account – Edward Dager

“We Gave Our Best” by: Kayleen Reusser

From : “WE GAVE OUR BEST” by Kayleen Reusser

In December 1944, SSgt. Edward Dager, crew chief for P-38 and p-39 planes was riding in LST-738, a landing ship designed for tanks, near the island of Mindoro.  LST-738 was one of a group of 30 LST’s landing at the island carrying tanks and vehicles.

Suddenly, Dager’s LST was fired on by Japanese kamikazes.  “They came in fast,” he said.  Dager’s LST returned anti-aircraft fire, hitting several of the planes.  When one kamikaze slammed into Dager’s vessel, the 130 crew members aboard were unable to control the fires.  “The captain ordered us to abandon ship,” he said.

Ed Dager, SSgt, US Army Air Corps

Oil from the damaged ship spread on the water.  Frantic seamen scrambled to swim away as more fires sprang up.  Allied ships in the area worked together to fire on the kamikazes and rescue the LST-738’s crew.

Thankfully, no crew member died from the assault, though several were injured.  Dager was burned on his face and right arm.  he and the other wounded were taken by PT boat to a hospital, where they received morphine injections and other care-giving ministrations.

Everything happened so fast and was so chaotic that Dager’s whereabouts became unknown to military officials.  The results were catastrophic.  “My parents received a telegram stating I had been killed in action,” he said.  The War Department soon discovered the error and tried to remedy the misinformation.  “The next day they sent another telegram to my parents saying I was okay.”

Born in 1921, the youngest child in a family of ten, Dager grew up on a farm outside of Monroeville, Indiana.  He quit school to find work, but in 1942, he was drafted into the U.S. Army.  After completing basic training at Camp Perry, Ohio, Dager was assigned to airplane mechanic school with the Army Air Corps.

As part of the 80th Fighter Squadron, “The Headhunter”. 8th Fighter Group, 5th Air force, Dager sailed from San Francisco to Brisbane, Australia, then New Guinea where he was assigned to an Allied air base.   “It was hard not to stare at the natives at New Guinea,” he said.  The walked around with bones in their noses.”

SSgt, Dager was assigned as crew chief in charge of 8 P-39s and P-38s.  The had four 50-caliber machine-guns and a 20 mm cannon.” he said.  Dager took his job seriously.  “A pilot from Boston told me I was the best crew chief because I kept the cockpits clean.”  Dager was aided by an assistant.

As missions often required 5 and 6 hours of flight time, crews were awakened during the dark, early hours of the morning.   “At 0200 hours someone blew a whistle to wake us up,” said Dager.  “We always did a final check of each aircraft before it took off.”

Being on the flight line in the middle of the night with a bunch of sleepy crews would be hazardous.  Dager witnessed one serviceman who drove his jeep into the wash of a plane’s propellers (current of air created by the action of a propeller),  “That was a sad sight,” he said.

Ed Dager

While Dager was friendly with flight crews, but he kept an emotional distance.  “We were there to fight a war.  We learned not to get too attached to people.”

It was not easy.  Many years after one pilot whom Dager had known was declared MIA, due to his plane’s crash, his daughter called Dager.  “She asked for details about her father and his last flight.” Dager provided what little information he knew.  “It was hard losing people.”

In summer 1945, he was helping to launch P-38s from Okinawa when President Truman ordered bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  Those actions subsequently ended the war with the surrender of the Emperor in September.  By November, Dager had enough points to be discharged.

He returned to Fort Wayne, IN where he farmed and worked at ITT, retiring in 1985.  Dager married in 1946 and he and his wife, Mavis, were parents to 2 daughters.  “I was in the war to do a job,” he said.  “I was young and thought if I made it home, that was okay.”

Ed and Mavis Dager, R.I.P.

Sadly, the Purple Heart recipient, Sgt. Dager left us on 23 February 2018

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Thomas Anderson – Rockton, IL; US Air Force (Ret. 23 y.), 11th Airborne Division

Jerry Cain – Painter, WY; US Army, Vietnam, 320 Artillery/101st Airborne Div., Purple Heart, Distinguish Service Medal

Michael Dippolito – Norristown, PA; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

Kenneth Ebi Jr. – Moline, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt., 7th Infantry Division Engineers

James Heldman – San Francisco, CA; US Army, Vietnam, Battalion Comdr., 2/4 FA/9th Infantry Division

Cyril Knight – Invercargill, NZ; 2NZEF J Force # 634897, WWII, Pvt.

Perry Owen – Houston, TX; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Carmine Picarello – Bayonne, NJ; US Army, MSgt. (Ret. 24 y.) / US Navy, Intelligence

Roy Scott Jr. – Columbus, OH; US Army, Vietnam & Desert Storm, 173rd Airborne Division, Bronze Star

Mary Zinn – London, ENG; Civilian, Red Cross

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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 December 17, 2018, in Book Reviews, First-hand Accounts, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 114 Comments.

  1. Great piece of work GP……very interesting….thank you b y the way for your recent likes….would you like a copy of my Vietnam travel guide to review?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story. Without people like him there would have been no victory.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dager’s parents got an emotional roller coaster ride with those telegrams. I can understand men wanting to keep some kind emotional distance from those they served with. One of the unfortunate practicalities of war.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Can you imagine the poor parents? One day thinking your son is dead and the next he is actually alive? Unbelievable.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So many unknown, and unsung Heroes who “just did their job” and hoped to return home.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The story about the two telegrams — dead, not dead — is another reminder of how tough the people back on the home front had to be. Confronting an enemy that’s right in front of you, and can be engaged, is one thing. Sitting and waiting, with no sure information and nothing to do but keep working and praying, is quite another. There’s no end to these tales, that’s for sure.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for sharing this story

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My dad was an airplane mechanic in Europe, Africa and I think Italy. The living conditions for them were not great. I read a book once that told the story of the mechanics and pilots. but for the life of me, I can’t remember the name. I remember my dad talking about being afraid when planes came back damaged and still had their bombs on board.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. great write up … poor parents … what was he awarded the Purple Heart for? That has to be an exceptional story …

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Excellent article GP! As you know, I love eyewitness accounts! This had be off the edge of my seat. Quite a close call there! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Tremendous post! Great to have this first-hand account of what it was like to be confronted by a kamikaze attack. Keep up the great work, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. What a nightmare period for his parents

    Liked by 3 people

  13. It took a lot of Sgt. Dagers to beat the crazy Japanese and the Germans. Here in Europe we are facing the same kind of crazies as the kamikazes. The latest one was in the Strasbourg Christmas market. Still, at least we have a supply of Sgt. Dagers always willing to step forward and fight the fight for us.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Thank you for sharing his story, GP!
    What an inspiration!
    I’m so glad he survived.
    But, sad that he passed in Feb.
    The world needs more men like him!
    (((HUGS)))

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Terrific and important post, GP. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Peggy’s mom got the MIA telegram when her husband John crashed. We still have it. The first thing John did when he walked/rode an elephant out of the Burmese jungle was to dash her off a letter that he was still arrive. We also have the letter. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

  17. A friends Mother received a telegram to say that her husband had been killed with the fall of Singapore. Some time later she took up with another gent at home, and had a baby. Three years later she was advised her first husband had been imprisoned in Changi for the duration. Amazingly, I think, when the soldier boy returned home the latter partner moved aside. He did take the young child with him though, but the soldier and his wife went on to have another five kiddies and lived a reasonable life together.
    I don’t think we can ever truly comprehend what people – soldiers and civilians – endured in those days….

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I hope it doesn’t sound strange but I have been a little sober today with what you shared and have been praying for you and your family

    Liked by 2 people

  19. They were lucky to get out that LST alive. An arrack like that must have been terrible!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. He was just a year younger than my dad who died in 1985. So grateful for the men and women of that generation.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I have a distant cousin who served in World War I; his parents were also notified that he’d been killed in action when he was in fact still alive. I’ve always had a hard time imagining the horror and then the reaction when they learned he was alive. First, elation and relief, and then I’d imagine some anger.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. How lucky was that crew to survive that attack…
    It is great to have these eye witness accounts, but do you notice the common thread that they were all there to do a job…no puffing of chests and boasting, though they would have had plenty to boast about.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. I am inspired by Dager’s story. There’s nothing worse for a mother than hearing–errantly–her son has been killed.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Dager’s “death” in combat reminds me of a M*A*S*H episode, where Hawkeye’s parents are erroneously notified of Hawkeye’s death. Different war, but I wonder if the show was portraying something that happened relatively often in the military in those days.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Wonderful story, lets us in to the that real life they lived.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Great work, and wonderful he survived a kamikaze battle too. Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  27. I always enjoy the first hand accounts. I can’t imagine receiving that first telegram, or worse, know that your parents had received it.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Wat wonderlijk dat de hele bemanning de aanval overleefden.Ik moest geweldig lachen met de uitspraak van Dagger” dat hij bleef staren naar de inboorlingen die een been in hun neus droegen”.Het moet verschrikkeijk geweest zijn dat zijn ouders een telegram kregen waarin stond dat hij overleden.Maar nog altijd beter dan dat men zou melden dat hij gewond wasen nadien zou sturen dat hij overleden was.

    Liked by 3 people

    • De meeste Amerikaanse soldaten hebben nog nooit van deze eilanden gehoord – en dan zien ze inboorlingen met een bot in hun neus !! Hun reacties moeten hilarisch zijn geweest!
      Zijn ouders hadden het moeilijk met die telegrammen, maar hij kwam tenminste thuis!
      Vrolijk kerstfeest, Mary Lou !!

      Liked by 1 person

  29. So good that the stories have been collected to be remembered. Mr Dager was one of many brave men to survive the war, and lead a full and useful life into old age. His memories are to be treasured.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. A touching eye-witness account, which makes your blog so interesting to read! It was truly a miracle that nobody died in the inferno of burning oil. Merry Christmas, GP!

    Liked by 3 people

  31. Reblogged this on Subli and commented:
    A WWII story about a kamikaze attack near Mindoro!

    Liked by 2 people

  32. They were extremely lucky no crew member died from the attack. Their number is not up yet. But those telegrams must be heartbreaking although his mother must have felt it in her heart that her son was alive. They seem to have that instinct about their kids.

    Liked by 3 people

  33. Wow…I am grateful Ed Dager was able to share his experience.

    Liked by 3 people

  34. Oh gosh, frightening and heartbreaking exchange of telegrams. Nice to know that Dager survived.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. That’s miraculous all survived the attack. Horrible though to get a telegram saying your son died, then another saying he hadn’t.

    Liked by 3 people

  36. I thank you for helping me share this history, Ian!

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: FEATURED BLOGGERS REPORT: Eye Witness Account – Edward Dager By Pacific Paratrooper #AceHist oryDesk reports | ' Ace Worldwide History '

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