|Pilot Lt. Charles T. Larsen, O-121787 (rescued) Twin Falls, ID
Gunner Ose M. Veesey (rescued) Crawfordville, AR
Ditched June 5, 1943 at 2:00pm
Built by Douglas. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN). Assigned to Carrier Air Group 11 (CAG-11) to squadron Bombing 21 (VB-21). No known nickname or nose art.
On June 5, 1943 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by Larsen with gunner Ose M. Veesey armed with a 500 pound bomb (mark 21) on a dive bombing mission against Japanese shipping between Shortland and Bougainviille. Weather was clear over the target.
Prior to take off, their usual aircraft experienced engine problems so the crew took off using this older aircraft instead. Taking off late, they proceeded to the target behind the formation, and dive bombed a transport alone, after the rest of the formation had already bombed.
Ose M. Veesey recalled March 2009:
"I would be willing to bet that was our plane we were about a football field from the beach and could still see the plane after we were ashore, The reason we were in an [another SBD] was because our plane apparently the flight plan was never changed. We had to switch to a Marine aircraft which had been at the 'canal already a long time. That flight I only had a single 30 caliber, this made the flight even more hairy."
After pulling up from their dive, A6M Zero fighters attacked, and chased them down to sea level and into clouds, while rear gunner Ose Veesey fired at them. Heading south-east, over Santa Isabel Island, one Zero continued to follow them and succeeded in damaging their canopy, tail and knocked off the radio antenna, before departing. Damaged, the SBD ditched roughly eight miles from Rekata Bay at roughly 2:00pm.
Also lost were
Fates of the Crew
Both crew were unhurt and paddled ashore in their emergency raft, and spent the night near the ditching site, in case a rescue effort was underway.
The next day, they begin walking away from Rekata Bay, and trekked several hours into the jungle, they met friendly natives who notified an Allied coastwatcher on Santa Isabel Island.
Early in the morning on June 7, 1943 three natives took them on a canoe loaded with bananas and returned to the coast. Around noon, they heard a PBY Catalina and fired their flare pistol to attract their attention. The PBY landed, and successfully rescued them both, flying them back to to Guadalcanal. Back at base, they were give one day off for rest, and returned to flying on June 9, 1943.
Ose M. Veesey recalled March 2009:
"I was really impressed and thankful that the Navy would spend time and energy looking for just two of us after a big raid like that. We were landed at Henderson our squadron personnel were at the docks to greet us. Believe me even after our experience we were fortunate. For there were some who didn't return. After only two days we were listed as missing in action, our folk had already been notified and our personal affects were inventoried and packed for shipment."
Larsen was later assigned to VF-84 and was killed aboard USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) on May 11, 1945 during a kamikaze attack off Okinawa while aboard USS Bunker Hill while serving with VF-84. Afterwards, he was buried at sea. He is memorialized at Punchbowl on the courts of the missing, court 3. For his service he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with two Gold Stars, Air Medal with six Gold Stars and the Purple Heart, posthumously.
Lynn Owen (daughter Ose M. Veesey):
"He is retired Navy 1941-1961 and was a Chief Petty Officer."
Memories of June 5, 1943 mission by Ose M. Veesey
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles T. Larsen
Lt Charles T Larsen (courts of the missing photo)
Thanks to Ose M. Veesey and Lynn Owen for additional information
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June 29, 2019