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USS Princeton (CVL-23)
|Pilot Lt(jg) James W. Syme, O-130176 USNR (MIA / KIA) NM
MIA March 30, 1944
Built by Grumman as Model G-50 in Bethpage, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F6F-3 Hellcat bureau number 40653.
Assigned to USS Princeton (CVL-23) to Fighting Squadron 23 (VF-23). No known nickname or nose art.
This Hellcat was part of division no. 1 led by Lt. Commander H. L. Miller with Ens. L. F. McWilliams, Lt(jg) James W. Syme and Ens. Frederick James. Weather was cloud cover 3/10 from 4,000' to 6,000' with visibility unlimited.
The formation arrived over the target at 12:40pm at an altitude of 11,000' over Peleliu Airfield on Peleliu Island. Miller's Division no. 1 began strafing runs with James and Syme claimed shared credit for a G4M1 Betty making a 90° overhead attack hitting the engines and wing root.
Flying above, Division no. 2 led by Lt. C. C. Schmidt spotted a flight of 15-20 Zeros 3,000' below 5 miles away and radioed the other divisions. After getting the report of the nearby bandits, Miller's Division no. 1 broke off their strafing attack and climbed to join the interception.
During the air combat, a Zero got on the tail of Syme's
Hellcat and shot it down. Possibly, Syme managed to bail out and might have been strafed while descending. When this Hellcat failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
March 30, 1944
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