'Killer' Kane's Air Group First To See Japanese Fleet
ABOARD CARRIER FLAGSHIP, CENTRAL PACIFIC, July 19
(AP) - To the air group aboard this flagship goes credit for catching the Japanese fleet within
range of our divebombers and torpedo planes.
It was the air group skippered by Cmdr. William R. (Killer) Kane, San Rafael,
Lt. Robert S. Nelson, Great Falls, Mont., torpedo pilot, was the first to
sight and report the enemy fleet's position the afternoon of June 20 (ELD).
"I noticed a rippling on the horizon," he said. "I stared at it
for a few moments to make sure, then called my crew and the other planes...
"We climbed, continuing our course toward clouds and a rain squall for
cover. By that time the Jap ships could be seen clearly. We worked in and out of the clouds
while I plotted their position, counted them, and sought to identify them. I sent our contact
report as soon as I figured we had sufficient information."
Lt. Nelson and his wingman, Lt. (jg) James S. Moore Jr., Miami, Fla., were
the first to see the enemy fleet.
Two other torpedo pilots, Lt. (jg) Robert R. Jones, Minneapolis, Minn., and
Edward W. Laster, Benson, Ark., flying a slightly different search sector, also spotted the
enemy ships that first afternoon.
# # #
"Enemy force sighted...." This radio message from Lt. Nelson's plane,
that electrified our carrier force and resulted in the high-speed launching of a heavy attack,
was sent by Radioman James Livingston, Lander, Wyo. A similar message from Radioman Robert W.
Grenier, Helena, Mont., flying in Jones' plane, quickly followed.
Lt. Jones said his first feeling was great elation. "I knew there was just
one other fleet in the Pacific and this was it. I knew we'd attack quickly."
Two fighter planes accompanied that historic search, piloted by Ensign William
E. Velte, Upper Darby, Pa., and Lt. Edward G. Colgan, Cleveland Heights, O. Jones' gunner,
William P. Whitley Jr., Raleigh, N. C., spotted an enemy torpedo bomber as the searchers started
back, and Lt. Colgan attacked - downing it with a single burst.
Lt. Nelson said he heard radio conversations between our own pilots, already
speeding to the attack as the search teams were returning. He gave the flight leader additional
information, he said.
Lt. Jones said he saw our attack formations on their way to blast the Japanese
"It was one of the greatest thrills of my life. Coming toward us on the
horizon were three large formations of our planes flying high and gaining altitude. We knew
the Japs were in for a bad time."
Other crewmen in the search planes included Thomas T. Watts, aviation radioman
first class, Oregon City, Ore.; Ralph C. Hovis, aviation ordnance machinist second class, Hoquiam,
Wash.; Robert W. Gruebel, aviation ordnance machinist second class; Peter G. B. Fielder,
aviation radioman third class, Baltimore, Md.; and John Fuentes, aviation motor machinist
second class, Los Angeles.
Bath in Sea Saves Burning Destroyer
FARRAGUT, Idaho, July 1 (AP) - Thomas W. Russell,
boatswain's mate, first class, of Bridgeboro, Ga., told today how a skipper of a destroyer
saved his blazing ship by giving it a bath in the wake of the aircraft carrier Enterprise.
The seaman, now a patient at the naval hospital here, was a gun captain on
The destroyer, he said, caught fire when attacked by Japanese planes. Its
skipper swung into the wake of the Enterprise and maneuvered the ship so it rocked heavily,
dipping its sides and decks into the sea on one side, then the other. The fire sizzled out
and the destroyer moved back into formation.
"A cheer went up aboard the Enterprise," said Russell. "If
the skipper of that destroyer had hesitated or had the flames reached the explosives aboard
her, she would have been blown out of the sea."