Mindanao Philippines

September 13, 1944:

The 13th of September was to be a busy day for Air Group 31 with 4 attacks being launched on various targets on Mindanao Island throughout the day.

The pre dawn sweep consisted of 8 Hellcats and 4 TBMs. 5 enemy aircraft were destroyed in the air and 4 destroyed on the groups at Legaspi airfield. The second sweep consisted of 6 Hellcats and 4 TBMs. The third sweep consisted of 8 Hellcats and 4 TBMs.  The forth and last sweep consisted of 11 Hellcats and 4 TBMs.

Of the the pilots from VF-31 who took part in action this day the following pilots were shot down

Lt. R. O. Zimmerman: was picked up 10 miles north of Simar Island at 1815 hours by one of the Destroyers
Lt. Ed Free: Was picked up by one of the Destroyers
Ens. George G. Bardin: Made a forced water landing but was not found.

In the 4 engagements of this day 25 enemy aircraft were destroyed in aerial combat.  The following pilots were credited with shooting down enemy aircraft:

Lt. Ray Hawkins shot down 5 Zeros and damaged 3 more.
Lt. James Stewart
shot down 4 Zeros
Lt. C. N. Nooy: Shot down 3 Zeros
Lt Hal Scales: Shot down 2 Zeros
Ens. Ed Toaspern
: Shot down 2 Oscars

Lt. (jg) Nooy engaged with 2 enemy aircraft and was successful in shooting both down. While attacking a 3rd Zero all of his 50 cal machine guns jammed, leaving him defenseless against the enemy aircraft. By sheer will and determination Lt. (jg) Nooy positioned his Hellcat directly above the enemy fighter aircraft and started descending, forcing the enemy fighter aircraft into the ground and barely missing the tree tops himself.

Here is the account of Lt. (jg) Nooy's actionAfter shooting down the first two, he attacked a third Zero from astern and was getting good hits when his guns went out. The Zero was badly damaged, but still flying.    Nooy then pulled up over the Japanese plane and maintained altitude at 50 feet, trying to force the plane to crash. As they passed over an elevation, Nooy pulled up, barely missing the treetops. The Zero was left piled into the hillside.

Lt. Scales' account of the action:
There were about 15 Zeros and 11 Hellcats in the air. The fighting took place at very low altitude, sometimes at 50 feet. After shooting down two Zeros, I made a treetop strafing run on the field, and there, staring from the window of the operations tower, was a big fat Jap taking in the show. I laughed all the way back at the expression on his face.

Lt (jg) Daniel Driscoll made a water landing after his aircraft was damaged by enemy fighters.

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