Born in Richmond, Virginia.
Graduated with class 41-G at Maxwell Field and was assigned to Selfridge Field, piloting P-40s. Transferred to Moffett Field on December 17, 1941.
Flight Across Australia
Sent overseas to Australia aboard the Mormacsun, he resumed flying P-40E Warhawks at Brisbane . On February 11, 1942 departed in a P-40E Warhawk on a ferry flight across Australia to Perth to be loaded aboard the USS Langley, but instead his flight would travel to Darwin then onto Java. On February 13, suffered a blown tail wheel tire when landing at Alice Springs Airfield and waited there for a new tire to be flown in. Flew for the Australian Army to train anti-aircraft gunners for until the end of the month, then returned to Melbourne and back to Brisbane to be assigned to another squadron.
Assigned to 41st Fighter Squadron
During April 1942, Latane was assigned to the 41st Fighter Squadron to C flight under Lt. Wagner based at Bankstown Airfield. Assigned P-400 Airacobra Nose 94. Flew local patrols until May, including patrols for Japanese submarines after the midget submarine attack against Sydney Harbor. During June continued to fly patrols and dive bombing practice into mid-July.
Flying from Port Moresby
Flown northward to New Guinea via Brisbane, Townsville, Horn Island (where he met RAAF ace "Bluey" Truscott) before arriving at 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby flying local patrols until the end of the month and experienced many Japanese air raids.
On August 2, 1942 escorted 22nd B-26 on a mission against Lae and was intercepted by A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai, and his P-400 was hit in the rear, noting in his logbook "I got shot in the ass". During the rest of the month, flew escort missions for C-47s, B-25s and A-20s and strafed Kokoda Pass and Buna once each.
During September and into early October flew missions against Buna, escorted C-47s to Myola Lake and escorted B-26, A-20s and Beaufighters on missions attacking Lae and Salamaua.
On October 14-16, escorted C-47 Dakotas to Wanigela Airifeld. Next, Latane had leave in Sydney from October 29 until November 14, 1942, flying as a passenger aboard a B-17F down and back to Port Moresby. Returning, he flew strafing missions during late November into December against Buna Airfield including enemy positions and anti-aircraft guns. During January to February 1943, flew patrols over the Buna area and guarded friendly shipping in Oro Bay and escorted C-47s flying to Wau Airfield.
Bail Out and Escape from Swamp
On February 9, 1943 while flying a P-400 Airacobra took off from 30 Mile Drome on a patrol over Oro Bay. Returning, his aircraft caught fire 20 miles north of the airfield and Latane bailed out. It took him six days to walk back to base and returned to duty (circa February 15, 1943). Afterwards, had leave in Brisbane.
Returned to Port Moresby on March 23, 1943 and began training new pilots and flying escort missions for C-47 Dakotas to Wau Airfield until April 12 when he began flying from Dobodura until April 23 with orders to report back to HQ in Brisbane, the back to the United States.
Assigned to Eglin Airfield during June 1943 to March 1944, flying P-39Q, P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt and P-63 Kingcobra, P-38 Lighting, P-51B Mustang plus several other aircraft types.
John Haynes (grandson of Latane)
Flight Log David E. Latane - February 9, 1943
Every Day A Nightmare pages 80, 153, 175, 184-185, 399n2
41st Fighter Squadron DVD
to John Haynes, Edward Rogers and William Bartsch for additional information