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|Pilot Major Robert Claude Maze, O-006770 C. O. VMF-511 (MIA /KIA) Modesto, CA
MIA May 27, 1945
Built by Goodyear Aircraft Corporation in Akron, Ohio as model V-166B. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as FG-1D Corsair bureau number 87828.
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) to Marine Carrier Air Group 1 (MCVG-1) to Marine Fighting Squadron VMF-511 aboard USS Block Island (CVE-106). No known nickname, nose art or squadron number.
On May 27, 1945 at 5:15am took off from USS Block Island (CVE-106) piloted by Major Robert C. Maze armed with a single 500 pound bomb and eight rockets leading three other Corsairs on a mission against Ishigaki Airfield and Ishigaki Town on Ishigaki Jima. The first section was Major Robert Maze wingman was 2nd Lt. J. S. Bostwick. The second section was 2nd Lt. H. E. Gabriels and 2nd Lt. Robert A. Goldberg.
The weather was scattered cumulus clouds at 4,000' over the target area with 1/10 cloud cover and visibility of 20 miles. Over the target, the four Corsairs attacked Ishigaki Airfield targeting the east to west runway diving from 8,000' in two sections and releasing their bombs from 2,000' with all four bombs hitting the target.
Afterwards, the Corsairs flew over the ocean and commenced rocket attacks from 6,000' against several small ships on piers off Ishigaki. Attacking, Major Maze and his wingman Bostwick released his rockets at 1,500' and began to pulled out, he observed Maze's plane continue its dive and hit the water at roughly 350 knots and submerged completely. The cause of the crash was not determined but believed to be due to anti-aircraft fire. When he failed to return Maze was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
Immediately after the crash, Bostwick orbited the area and saw no trace of Maze. The other two Corsair pilots Gabriels and Goldberg did not witness the crash. Afterwards, the three Corsairs made one more strafing run on Ishigaki Airfield and fired fourteen rockets at anti-aircraft guns before returning to land on the carrier at 8:30am.
During an afternoon sortie by three other Corsairs from the squadron, 1st Lt. Harmer observed another oil slick in the sea off Ishigaki Town believed to be this aircraft.
Maze was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing, court 4.
USMC Casualty Card - Robert Claude Maze
Navy Serial Number Search Results - FG-1D Corsair 87828
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List May 1945 - FG-1D Corsair 87828
NARA USS Block Island War History December 1944–September 1945 page 21
"The activities of the Marine Air Group, in providing close air support for the ground forces on Okinawa, as well as making sustained neutralization strikes against the five airfields on Miyako and Ishigaki in the Sakashima Gunto, are detailed in the Action Report referenced above (Footnote 1)
(Footnote 1) Action Report for Operations in Support of Occupation of Okinawa and in the Neutralization of Sakashima Gunto CVE-106/A2-11/A12, serial: 065, 24 June 1945."
NARA VMF-511 War Diary May 1945 page 11-13
(Page 11) " 27 May 1945 - At 0515 (I) four F4U's took off led by Major R. C. Maze, USMC, from the carrier for a strike on the Japanese airfield at Ishigaki Town, Ishigaki Shima, Sakashima Gunto."
(Page 13) "Major R. C. Maze, 06770, USMC, killed in action"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert Claude Maze
FindAGrave - Maj Robert Claude Maze (courts of the missing photo)
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