This is a sad story I came across about a TBM rear turret gunner from the aircraft carrier Essex.
His name was Loyce Deen.
A most dramatic WWII scene captured on film, showed a sailor buried at sea in the plane in which he gave his life. The plane was so badly hit by 40mm anti-aircraft (AA) shells, Captain Carlos W. Wieber, Commanding Officer of the Essex, in concert with the crew, decided to leave his body in the plane. In addition, orders also came down not to strip the plane for parts - which was quite an extraordinary tribute at the time since aircraft parts were scarce and in demand. VIDEO HERE:
For almost all of his missions, Loyce teamed up with Pilot Lt. Robert Cosgrove (24) from New Orleans, Louisiana and Radioman Digby Denzek (20) from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
|L to R: Digby, Cosgrove, Deen|
Lt. Cosgrove was a top pilot and would often bring his almost un-flyable plane back. Loyce was the rear turret machine gunner (.50 cal.) and would protect the plane from the side and above. Digby had several roles, including arming the torpedo and operating the radio. Additionally, when they were under fire, he would crawl below the gun turret pod and use a machine gun protruding out the bottom end of the plane to protect the belly of the aircraft.
Together, this team of young men fought courageously everywhere in the South Pacific. Places included the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima (to soften up defense before the invasion), Formosa (now Taiwan), Philippines, Marcus Island, Wake Island, Saipan, Orate Airfield, Rota Island, Peleliu, Mindanao, Cebu, Luzon, Panay, Okinawa and finally Manila Bay.
|Loyce is the first sailor from the left in the second row from the front. Digby is the first sailor on the left in the first row. Loyce's good friend, the youngster behind him (with his arms over Loyce's shoulders) was also later killed.|
To learn more, go to: http://www.loyceedeen.org/