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|Pilot Captain Rubin Iden, O-006388 (KIA, BR) Detroit, MI
Gunner Pvt. F. W. Thiessen (rescued)
Ditched September 20, 1942
Built by Douglas at El Segundo. Constructors Number 1115. Delivered to the U.S. Navy (USN) as SBD-3 Dauntless bureau number 03293.
Assigned to the United States Marine Corps (USMC), Marine Air Wing 1 (MAW-1), MAG-23 (MAG-23), Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 231 (VMSB-231). This aircraft had no known nickname or nose art.
On September 20, 1942 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by Captain Rubin Iden with gunner Pvt. F. W. Thiessen armed with bombs with SBD-3 Dauntless 03294 on a reconnaissance mission over the central Solomon Islands. The pair saw a saw large number of personnel and bombed and strafed what they believed was Gizo on Ghizo Island. In fact, they attacked a village at Roviana (Rubiana) on New Georgia Island. Tragically, the villagers were friendly to the Allied cause and the truth was later reported by an Allied Coastwatcher in the area.
Returning, the pair became lost and flew past Guadalcanal and circled an island that "looked like [a] large M". Lost and low on fuel, SBD-3 Dauntless 03294 piloted by 2nd Lt. John W. Zuber ditched into into Lake Tegano and landed safely. Afterwards, this plane ditched nearby.
Fates of the Crew
During the ditching, pilot Iden drowned and his body was recovered. Gunner Thiessen survived the landing unhurt and linked up with the crew of the other plane and awaited rescue.
On September 24, 1942 Thiessen was rescued by U.S. Navy (USN) PBY Catalina from Patrol Squadron 91 (VP-91) that also rescued the two crew of SBD Dauntless 03293 and transported them back to Guadalcanal.
Recovery of Remains
After the crash, Iden's body was recovered. Postwar, his remains were transported to the Hawaii.
Iden was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. On March 14, 1949 he was buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at plot F grave 298.
Navy Serial Number Search Results - SBD-3 Dauntless 03293
NARA United States Marine Corps, Headquarters, Marine Aircraft Group 23 "Report of action of the forward echelon of Marine Aircraft Group 23 (VMF-223, VMF-224, VMSB-231 & VMSB-232), with Enterprise Flight 300 (6 pilots of VS-5 & 5 pilot of VB-6), VF-5, VS-3, VT-8 and the 67th Fighter Squadron, USA, attached, for the period 31 August to 15 September 1942." September 17, 1942 page 3
(Page 3) "1835 Capt. Ruben Iden, VMSB-231, gunner Corp. F. W. Thiesen, VMSB-231 and 2nd Lt. J. W. Zuber, VMSB-231, gunner Corp. D. L. Rhodes, VMSB-231 reported that they bombed and strafed houses on hill at Gizo [Gizo, Ghizo Island] and saw large number of personnel, recommending further bombings. (Later reports from CW [Coastwatcher] state Ravionna [sic Roviana (Rubiana)], a friendly village was attacked not Gizo) Capt. Iden radioed that both planes were lost and were circling [an] island that looked like [a] large M. Capt. Iden further radioed that Lt. Zuber had landed in the water and was uninjured and that he was going down. No further report from these planes to this day."
Newspaper article "Iden's Parents Get Memorial From Roosevelt"
"Me. and Mrs. Ben Iden, of 1926 Hazelwood, received a Presidential Memorial Tuesday as a tribute to their hero-son, Captain Ruben Iden who was killed at the age of 26 off Guadalcanal. September 20, 1942... Iden returning from an observation excursion over Guadalcanal [sic sic Roviana (Rubiana)] discovered a landing party of Japs and did not hesitate to give them attack, although his was not a fighting mission. Thus 'he swooped out of the sun and gave the enemy a test of high explosives' as Lt. Col. Bailey vividly describes this exploit in his 'Last Man Off Wake Island. Enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1939, Iden attended Pensacola and was graduated a 2nd Lt. He was shipped to Pearl Harbor and did battle with the sons of Nippon when they first attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. Later he was advanced to the rank of 1st Lt. and then Captain, commanding a squadron over Guadalcanal. His gunner informed Iden's parents that their son had played a major part in wiping out 1200 Japs. Iden was attending Detroit Institute of Technology before his enlistment and was an excellent athlete, figuring prominently in football and boxing. He was graduated from Northern High. Besides his parents, he is survived by three brothers: Marine Sgt Sam, 21, who, when last heard of, was somewhere in the Marshalls, Pvt Isadore, 25, a medical corpsman stationed in Kansas, and Jack, 15 who although only thirteen at the time attempted to enlist when he heard the news of his eldest brother's death."
FindAGrave - Capt Rubin Iden (photo, news, grave photo)
Thanks to Jim Sawruk for additional information
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September 19, 2021
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