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  F6F-3 Hellcat Bureau Number 41715  
USS Essex CV-9
USN c1944
IJA Oct 13, 1944
US Army c1945
Pilot  Lt(jg) Kenneth A. Flinn, 291306 USNR (POW, died July 23, 1945, BR) Oakland, CA
Ditched  October 13, 1944 at 4:00pm

Aircraft History
Built by Grumman as Model G-50. Delivered to the United States Navy (USN) as F6F-3 Hellcat bureau number 41715.

Wartime History
Assigned to USS Essex (CV-9) to Fighting Squadron 15 (VF-15). No known nickname, nose art or squadron number.

Mission History
On October 13, 1944 took off from USS Essex (CV-9) piloted by Lt(jg) Kenneth A. Flinn roughly 60 miles east of Formosa on a fighter sweep over Miyako Jima. Over the target, hit by anti-aircraft fire and at 4:00pm ditched close to shore with the aircraft partially above water. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Afterwards, fellow pilot Lt. B. D. Morris observed Flinn standing on the wing and waved, but rescue aircraft were not available to rescue him. Afterwards, no rescue mission was attempted to save him.

Fate of the Pilot
Afterwards, Flinn was captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW) and was photographed with a group of Japanese soldiers. Next, he was transported to Ofuna Camp near Yokosuka. On July 23, 1945 Flinn died of illness while in captivity. According to the Japanese: "cause of death: physical exhaustion due to unacclimation [sic]" and "note: general asthma of abnormal nature". His remains were buried in a wooden casket. The grave was marked with a wooden cross with his name at the Ryuhoji Temple near Ofuna Camp.

Minoru Kamada adds:
"About three or four years ago [circa 2014-2015] I was cruising in Internet to find things about war on Miyakojima, Okinawa. I was curious about the war on Miyako as my father was there as a soldier during the war. I found a photo in the Internet by accident. I was interested in it so I immediately phoned Yamakawa-san who posted the picture. He told me that his mother, Mrs. Yamakawa has it. In 1944, his mother was on the island after graduating from a girls' school in Okinawa. One day in October 1944, a Japanese soldier (a friend of her father) visited her family and talked about an enemy plane having landed on shallow sea near her house a few days previously. He handed over a photo to her. It was a picture of smiling Japanese soldiers and an unhappy captured American aviator. During the war it was a kind of dangerous to keep this kind of confidential photo as police and MP's [Kempeitai] were very nervous about espionage activities on the island so she kept it in her diary secretly and wrote "press the shutter on October 13. [1944]". Several years ago her granddaughter asked her if she had some war memorabilia because her teacher had asked pupils to show some at the school. She remembered about the photo in the diary and she showed it to her son and grandchildren. Her son wanted to know who the aviator was and posted it on Internet and curious me found it. It took two or three months for me to find out it was Ens. Kenneth Ashton Flinn from California. Next step I asked Katie [Rasdorf] to find Kenny himself (if he survived the war luckily) and/or his relatives. Katie Rasdorf and CeCe Moore did a very good job. It was amazing receiving mails from her in every two or three hours. We knew that his cousin (Mr. Edwin Flinn) was living near San Francisco so we (Yamakawa and me) flew to the States to see him. But Edwin told us that he didn't remember Kenny very well as they hadn't seen each other very often. I am very happy that we finally found his close relatives. I read that his ashes was scattered over the prairie west of Oakland."

Recovery of Remains
On November 2, 1945 the U. S. Army 3045th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company, 4th Platoon exhumed his grave at the Ryuhoji Temple near Ofuna Camp. On March 18, 1946 he was interred at USAF Cemetery Yokohama #1 at grave 131, row 3 in the USAF plot. During 1948, his father requested that his remains be cremated and returned to the United States on June 21, 1949. Afterwards, his ashes were scattered over the Golden Gate area. Flinn has no grave or memorial marker.

Flinn was officially declared dead on July 23, 1945.

Joseph A. Flinn (father)
Carol L. Preston (mother)
Edwin Flinn (cousin)

Note, some sources incorrectly list his rank as Ensign when he went MIA. In fact, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant junior grade Lt(jg) on October 1, 1944. Other sources list the date of Flinn's death as either July 23, 1945 correctly or July 24, 1945 incorrectly.
Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDFP) Kenneth A. Flinn
USN Casualty Card (Report of Casualty) Kenneth A. Flinn
California Died or Killed In Prison page 196 (Flinn, Kenneth Ashton Lt(jg))
Navy Serial Number Search Results - F6F-3 Hellcat 41715
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List October 1944 - incorrectly notes pilot "Ens F. A. Funn" [sic Flinn] and saved [sic POW] and loss location as Pescadores [sic Miyako].
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Kenneth Ashton Flinn died July 23, 1945
US Navy Cruise Book USS Essex CV-9 - October 13, 1944 page 100
NARA "USS Essex CRep of Air Ops Against Formosa, 10/12-14/44 page 34
(Page 34) V-9 Action Report The Battle of Formosa 12, 13 and 14 October 1944 page 1
(b) Missing In Action - Two - Flinn, Kenneth Ashton, Ensign, A-V(N), USNR; VF 15.
Pilot of F6F aircraft which was making a fighter sweep on Miyako Shima in Nansei Shoto Group on 10-13-44. The plane was hit by enemy AA fire over the target area and the pilot was forced to make a water landing just off-shore of island. Liet. B. D. Morris, A-V(T), USNR, reports that the aircraft came down in water so shallow that the plane was not submerged. The pilot stood on a wing and waved at aircraft overhead. Time of forced landing approximately 1600. Rescue facilities not available. Missing In Action."
News "Lt. Flinn Has A Third DFC"
US Naval Aviation Training Center page 519 (July 7. 1943 group photo)
FindAGrave - LTJG Kenneth Ashton Flinn (photos)
Together We Served (TWS) - Kenneth Ashton Flinn, LTJG

Fold3 - Kenneth Ashton Flinn
Thanks to Minoru Kamada, Katherine Rasdorf, CeCe Moore and Mike Wenger for additional information

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Last Updated
October 17, 2019


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