Del Ray Echo Hawk

”Ken’s Men Against the Empire, vol. I”

I acquired “Ken’s Men, Against the Empire, volume I” during this pandemic of ours and when I reached the story of Bootless Bay, I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I decided to share it with you all.  I thank the research of Lawrence J. Hickey and the IHRA for over 373 pages of unforgettable stories, plus a sneak preview of Volume II.  I can’t praise this organization enough.  I recommend you all try at least one of their books.

Del Ray Echo Hawk

Rescue from Bootless Bay

As men fought on the ground in New Guinea, the 5th Air Force was in the sky above them.  The B-24D, the “Ben Buzzard”, 43rd Bombardment Group/64th Bombardment Squadron, with Lt. Stephen Blount as pilot, could be heard over the radio at Seven Mile Drome as they returned in violent weather over the Owen Stanley Mts.,  and then the roar of the engines abruptly ceased…

“Ben Buzzard” 43rd Bombardment Group

Gas was leaking from a split in the trailing edge of the left wing; then one of the engines on the left wing suddenly quit and the radio operator couldn’t raise the tower, he had no idea if they were receiving his messages.

“Ben Buzzard” skipped across the water, then porpoised.  The rear part of the plane split and flipped over the nose.  Blount, not wearing his seatbelt, was catapulted through the Plexiglas windshield.

Jack Matisoff & Del Ray Echo Hawk, best friends

It was 18 October 1943 when Staff Sgt. DelRay Echo Hawk, who had been manning one of the waist guns and wounded, popped to the surface.  He then filled his lungs and dove back underwater.  He swam to the waist area of the aircraft, bent back the rear fuselage and pulled SSgt. Clayton L. Landon out of the wrecked Liberator.  Del Ray’s hands were cut and bleeding from the jagged metal, but he had saved Landon’s life.

Major Harold M. Brecht, who had just landed, hurried to his plane with another pilot and took off in search of the missing crew.  Their flight path took them directly down the length of Bootless Bay, where Blount and co-pilot, Julian Petty were yelling and waving frantically…

Crew taken in front of “Lucky Lucille”. Top 2nd from right is Jack Matisoff, 4th from Right, Echo Hawk. Signatures on back: Julian Al Petty, John R. O’Neal Jr., Coltrane C. Sherrill, Bob Lee, Bob Mason, Delray Echo Hawk, Albert Richter Jr., Jack Shainfine, Arthur Brent

Apparently unseen, the 4 surviving crewmen continued to ride the 3-foot swells.  Fortunately, within a few minutes a canoe appeared and turned in their direction.  Inside were 2 curious Australian enlisted men, who had seen the plane disappear and commandeered a native boat to investigate.

After a hurried discussion, it was decided that the men would hold onto the side of the canoe and be towed.

The Australians at the camp formed 2 long parallel lines 200 yards out in the water.  The Americans were passed from one man to another until they were safely on shore.

Landon and Echo Hawk, the most seriously injured, were laid out on the beach to await an ambulance.  They were then transported to a field hospital.

Lt. Blount would recommend Del Ray Echo Hawk, a member of the Oklahoma  Cherokee Nation, for the Silver Star for his exceptional bravery in rescuing SSgt. Landon.  Echo Hawk later received the Soldier’s Medal and the entire crew was awarded the Purple Heart.

Grave marker for Del Ray Echo Hawk

This story was condensed.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert D. Bay – Chesterfield, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO, Corps of Engineers, MGen. (Ret.)

Shirley (Cherrington) Beachum – Catawissa, PA; US Army WAC, WWII, link instructor

From: Cora Metz posters

Wilfred C. Cloutier – Guilford, VT; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Ralph Dunwoody – Aberdeen, SD; US Army, WWII, Intelligence & Recon

Dorothy D. Garippo – Roselle, IL; US Navy WAVE, WWII, nurse

Yvonne H. Jackson – Owego, NY; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Gene M. Kirby – Davenport, IA; US Army, WWII, ETO

A.J. Laughlin – New Carlisle, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Jack Moreland – Paducah, TX; US Army, WWII, 2nd Division

Raymond Sontag (101) – Creve Coeur, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt.

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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 November 23, 2020, in Book Reviews, First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 119 Comments.

  1. Wonderful story of bravery, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story of the men caring for one another at risk to their own life. I liked the part where the Australian men saw the plane go down and towed them to safety where they could be passed ashore. Great story!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing one of the stories in Ken’s Men, Vol. I! It may be worth adding that 1/Lt. Blount thought he had enough fuel for a landing at Seven Mile but that the engines quit over Bootless Bay. It’s also incredible that, after going through the windshield, he was conscious, half-buried in silt, and got himself out of it. S/Sgt. Echo-Hawk was very brave for going back to rescue his fellow crewman and we’re glad that you posted his story here for more people to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh waao, this seems nice 👍😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was a great story of survival and helping one another. Happy Thanksgiving, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s often hard for me to wrap my mind around the bravery of these men, or what they were able to accomplish under circumstances that were dire, indeed. They all deserved their awards, and I’m glad you shared this story. It’s a good reminder of how many other stories are known to too few people, and how many stories probably never have been told.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, GP!
    HUGS!!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Greg's Business History

    Great post

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Excellent post, GP. I learned a lot. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Keep up the great work.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Great post.
    Have a wonderfully blessed and safe Thanksgiving!!!🦃🙏

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Once again, a wonderful story GP. Thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Good yarn and Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 4 people

  13. I also appreciate your posts and learning more GP…mostly I know nothing about war…it was not talked about in our home…my Dutch parents rarely spoke about it…I did find photos from after the war of my father who was sent to a camp for starving children 😌🤓☺️ Sending joy hedy

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Wow, GP… valor, honor, putting others first. Yes, this is a powerful and inspiring post.
    Not related, but I thought you might enjoy what the Smithsonian just sent to my inbox. “Beast of the Airways” was a great hook. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/why-p-47-thunderbolt-world-war-ii-beast-airways-ruled-skies-180976316/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20201124-daily-responsive&spMailingID=43976880&spUserID=MTA5OTg4NDA3ODU5OQS2&spJobID=1882055567&spReportId=MTg4MjA1NTU2NwS2
    I don’t know if you have to register, but it’s free, and I’ve never gotten spam as a result.
    I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving. Please stay safe and well. Hugs on turkey wings!

    Liked by 4 people

  15. I enjoy these stories, GP. They are inspirational, and help fill in the details of the war. Thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

  16. Thanks for posting these interesting stories. It’s nice to know another WWIi storyteller. I have a name of a WWII vet to add to your list of deceased: William Sawyer, Bluffton IN. Army medic in the Aleutians. I don’t know his rank. He was a very good friend my husband took on Honor Flight of Northeast Indiana. He was in the Army 20+ years.

    Liked by 4 people

  17. Another fascinating story – thank you for sharing, GP.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. Great story, GP. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 4 people

  19. Oh the courage! To be able to swim underwater and make the rescue! Then so many others involved. A powerful story.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. What an inspiring story of heroism!

    Liked by 5 people

  21. Well done to the brave aircrew, and to the Australians who saved them. Another great tale of courage in wartime.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 5 people

  22. Great story, GP. I noticed from the grave marker that DelRay Echo Hawk died when he was only 50.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. Looking forward to more of these great stories. I know there are lots of them.

    Liked by 4 people

  24. Thanks for sharing this with us, GP.

    Liked by 4 people

  25. It’s always good to hear of airmen being rescued after their crash. The courageous spirit of the greatest generation is unmatched!

    Liked by 4 people

  26. We need more stories like this these days. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 4 people

  27. The pandemic forces us to do something meaningful. Reading is one thing that detracts us from the daily bombardment of the negative news items that are coming through the media. You definitely found a good book to read, GP.

    Liked by 6 people

  28. A wonderful documentation of honor! Thank you for the information, GP! Will get closer to these interesting books! Michael

    Liked by 4 people

  29. Great story of the heroes of the Greatest Generation!

    Liked by 4 people

  30. I love this post. The cartoons are hilarious. Hope we continue to have wonderful allies like the Aussies and the Brits.

    Liked by 4 people

  31. When I read about someone barely surviving and then returning to rescue others, it makes me feel like this is how we are inside. I hope I’m right.

    I got a real chuckle from the second cartoon 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  32. This looks like an exciting book.

    Liked by 5 people

  33. Zal spannend zijn om te lezen. Gelukkig een happy end. Ze werden dus gered.
    Soms zijn wonderen de wereld niet uit.

    Liked by 4 people

  34. Wow great collection..

    Liked by 4 people

  35. Wow… that kind of valor and courage… does it exist today? I’d like to think that it does.

    Liked by 5 people

  36. Lump in throat. Thank you for sharing that story. I corresponded with Larry Hickey years ago when I was searching for information about Dale Wilson, whose BG was stationed at Moresby’s 17-Mile Field.

    Liked by 5 people

  37. So much for cyber security…register for use…Bad of me to laugh😱 as the consequences are deadly.. but I did🤣

    Liked by 5 people

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