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|Pilot Lt. Col. Harold W. Bauer, O-004534 C.O. VMF-212 (MIA / KIA, BR) Woodruff, KS
MIA November 14, 1942
Built by Grumman Corporation in Bethpage, New York as a model G-36 with manually operated folding wings. Delivered to the United States Navy (USN) as F4F-4 Wildcat bureau number 03454. Shipped overseas to the South Pacific.
Assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (1st MAW), Marine Aircraft Group 23 (MAG-23) to Marine Fighting Squadron 212 (VMF-212) "Hell Hounds / The Musketeers". No known nickname or nose art.
On November 14, 1942 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by Lt. Col. Harold W. Bauer on a mission against Japanese transports off Guadalcanal. While making a strafing run on a transport, he was intercepted by a pair of A6M2 Zeros and claimed one shot down but was damaged by gunfire and ditched roughly 15 miles north of the Russell Islands and was spotted in the sea wearing his life vest. When this aircraft failed to return, Bauer was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
At dusk, a J2F Duck searched for the American pilots missing from the day's mission but failed to find them. Afterwards, aircraft from Guadalcanal searched for Bauer for four days without result.
Bauer was officially declared dead on January 8, 1946. He earned the Medal of Honor for actions between May 10, 1942–November 14, 1942 and Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Afterwards, Port Vila Airport (Via Airfield) on Efaté Island in New Hebrides (Vanuatu) was renamed Bauer Field in honor of Lt. Col. Harold W. Bauer. Also, USS Bauer (DE-1025) launched June 7, 1957 was named in his honor.
Navy Serial Number Search Results - F4F-4 Wildcat 03454
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List November 1942 F4F Wildcat 03454 VMF-212 Lt. Col Bauer MIA
War Diary Marine Air Group 23 November 14, 1942
"...we were missing 6 SBD's and 2 F4F4's (including Lt. Col. H. W. Bauer). A special search sent out at dusk in a J2F failed to locate any missing pilots."
History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II (1952) pages 67, 70, 78, 91, 103 (VMF-212 Efate to Henderson), 116 (November 14, 1942), 119, 425 (MOH), 431 (Marine Aces: 21. Bauer 11), 433 (Squadron Commanders Killed, Bauer, 11/14/42), 479 (index)
(Page 116) "Among the missing was Joe Bauer, the Cactus Air Force's highly esteemed fighter commander. He was seen in his Mae West after he was shot down, but four days of intense searching by planes and by Russell Islands natives failed to locate any further trace of him."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harold William Bauer
FindAGrave - LTC Harold William Bauer (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
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November 14, 2021
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