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USS Yorktown (CV-5)
Matt Harris 1997
|Pilot Ensign Herbert R. Hein, Jr., 083396 (POW, survived) CA
Bombardier AOM3c Joseph D. Strahl, 3468559 (POW, survived) AR
Gunner S1c Marshal E. "Windy" Windham, 3373641 (POW, survived) MS
Ditched February 1, 1942
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 2283. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as TBD-1 Devastator bureau number 1515.
Assigned to USS Yorktown (CV-5) to Torpedo Squadron 5 (VT-5). Tail code 5-T-6. No known nickname or nose art.
On February 1, 1942 took off from USS Yorktown (CV-5) piloted by Ensign Herbert R. Hein, Jr. armed with bombs as one of eleven Devastators plus seventeen SBD-3 Dauntless on a strike against Jaluit Atoll. The weather was rain squalls and a low cloud thwarted a coordinated attack.
Over the target, this aircraft with TBD-1 Devastator 0298 became disoriented and accidentally headed north instead of southeast and ran low on fuel. The pair radioed that they were preparing to ditch sucessfully ditched into Jaluit Lagoon on the western side of the atoll roughly six miles from Emiej (Imeji). Both crews survived the ditchings unhurt.
Fates of the Crew
Afterwards, both crews were captured by the Japanese and became Prisoners Of War (POWs) and were transported to Japan where they were detained until the end of the Pacific War. Hein was last reported on October 2, 1945 at Osaka Main Camp Chikko Osaka 34-135. Strahl was last reported on October 15, 1945 at Osaka Main Camp Chikko Osaka 34-135. Windham was last reported on December 7, 1945 at Osaka Main Camp Chikko Osaka 34-135. Afterwards, all three were repatriated to the United States.
During 1997, this aircraft was discovered during a survey requested by the U. S. National Park Service (NPS) conducted by SCUBA diver Matt Harris. The aircraft was found about six miles from Emiej (Imeji) Island on the western side of Jaluit Lagoon.
The force of the ditching tore off the forward bomb aiming windows, and rear of the bomb compartment. The only item missing is the pilot's map case in the cockpit. The rear machine gun is present and stowed inside the wreck. The flaps are still in the extended position.
Matt Harris reported in his survey:
"The aircraft is intact aside from the propeller and engine cowling which is separated and located approximately 15 feet from the main body of the aircraft. The glass canopy is still intact however the forward pilot’s window is broken. No weapons were found – these may have already been removed."
Donald L. Strahl (son of Joseph D Strahl)
"It is with great sorrow I advise you that Joseph D. Strahl died in October of 1999 and Marshal E. "Windy" Windham also died in 1999. Dad and Windy remained friend for life and both died within a few months of each other. My Dad, while visiting the Naval Air Museum told someone where these two aircraft could be found. He wanted to have his aircraft found and restored. This too is my wish. If this aircraft is restored to flying condition, I would like the honor to be able to fly in it."
Timothy Wright (grandson of Windham):
"I am the grandson of the late Marshall E. "Windy" Windham. I, along with the rest of Windy's family, would like to see this aircraft recovered and restored. I would someday like to see his aircraft and show my sons what their great grandfather flew in during WWII."
Navy Serial Number Search Results - TBD-1 Devastator 1515
"1515 (VT-5) crash landed in lagoon at Jaluit Atoll, Marshall Islands Feb 1, 1942 after colliding with TBD-1 1507. Recently rediscovered."
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List February 1942 - TBD-1 1515
NARA "World War II Prisoners of War Data File" Hein Herbert R. Jr.
NARA "World War II Prisoners of War Data File" Strahl Joseph Donald
NARA "World War II Prisoners of War Data File" Windham Marshall Eugene
Two TBD-1 Devastators Found At Jaluit Atoll via Wayback Machine July 20, 2008
TIGHAR TBD Survey 2004 via Wayback Machine October 21, 2016
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January 13, 2021
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