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USS Ticonderoga (CV-14)
|Pilot Lt(jg) George J. Walsh (rescued) Brooklyn, NY
Gunner ? (rescued)
Crashed January 21, 1945
Built by Curtiss as Model 84E. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as SB2C-3 Helldiver bureau number 18632.
Assigned to USS Ticonderoga (CV-14), Carrier Air Group 80 (CAG-80), Bombing Squadron 80 (VB-80). No known nose art or nickname.
On January 21, 1945 at 7:00am took off from USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) piloted by Lt(jg) George J. Walsh armed with a 1,000 pound bomb plus two 250 pound bombs as one of twelve Helldivers from VB-80 led by Lt. Commander C. C. Laster, Jr. on a dive bombing mission against Japanese shipping in Toshien Harbor (Takao Harbor) at Takao (Kaohsiung) on southwest Formosa (Taiwan). After take off one aborted the mission and returned to the carrier. The formation also included twelve TBM-3 Avengers from VT-80 plus eight escorting F6F Hellcats from VF-80.
The flight inbound to the target was uneventful. Over the target at 13,000' the eleven Helldivers made high speed dive towards ships in Toshien Harbor. Visibility was ten miles and described as very hazy and smoky. Ten Hellcats bombed FTA (target #1) at the mouth of Toshien Harbor claiming two direct hits and was observed dead in the water smoking and burning in two places. One Helldiver bombed a destroyer (target #2) in the inner harbor but results were unobserved.
During the attack, the formation experienced intense and accurate medium and heavy anti-aircraft fire with different colored shell bursts. Over the town and wharf area were three or four barrage balloons at 2,500'. Several Helldivers sustained slight damage from shrapnel including one plane with a hole in one propeller blade but all returned to land by 10:30am.
Afterwards, this Helldiver might have been written off due to the damage but that is not noted in the Bombing Squadron 80 War Diary for January 1945 or USS Ticonderoga CV-14 Aircraft Action Report (AAR) No. 72 January 21, 1945.
Walsh passed away at age 98 on September 26, 2019 at home in Darien, CT.
Chris Carola adds:
"George Walsh, my former AP co-worker/supervisor, is the son of Lt. Cmdr. George Walsh, who recently passed away. The elder George did survive a crash landing on the Ti after his plane was damaged on 1/21/1945 mission, and he survived the kamikaze crashing into the carrier near the ready room that same day."
Navy Serial Number Search Results - SB2C-3 Helldiver 18632
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List January 1945 - SB2C-3 Helldiver 18632
NARA History of Bombing Squadron Eighty page 6
(Page 6) "...on 21 January launched attacks against southern Formosa. Bombing 80 [VB-80] sent out 12 planes to attack Toshien Harbor. Despite intense 'AA' several ships were damaged, and all planes returned safely. Immediately after completing interrogation of the pilots in the ready-room, the Ticonderoga was hit at 1201 noon by a 'kamikaze' which struck only about twenty-five-feet forward of the ready room. All officers of the squadron, except one, were in the ready room at the time and despite the some and fire everyone was able to get out of the ready room to safety."
NARA "USS Ticonderoga CV-14 Aircraft Action Report (AAR) No. 72 January 21, 1945
(page 187) "Several planes were slightly damaged by shrapnel. A prop blade on one plane was pierced through by a large piece of shrapnel, but the plane returned safely with only a little vibration. Nil enemy aircraft were observed. All planes returned safely."
Darienite "George Walsh, 98, Earned Distinguished Flying Cross as WWII Dive Bomber, Founded Ad Firm" October 1, 2019
"It was off Formosa on Jan. 21, 1945 that then Lt. Cmdr. Walsh survived an anti-aircraft hit on his plane, a crash landing on the Ticonderoga"
The Battle of Midway: Searching for the Truth (2017) by George J. Walsh
Thanks to Chris Carola for additional information
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