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|Pilot Lt(jg) Edward M. Peck, USNR (rescued) Shreveport, LA
Gunner AOM2/c Stanley Teft (rescued)
Radio ARM3/c Jesse Scott, Jr. (rescued) Garden City, KS
Ditched June 16, 1943 at roughly 9:15
Previously, Teft claimed a Zero shot down on February 4, 1943 on a mission against Japanese shipping.
Over Tonolei Harbor, flying at roughly 3,000' and dropping flares, this Avenger was caught in searchlights and antiaircraft fire. An anti-aircraft shell exploded near the plane fatally damaging it and setting the engine on fire and the crew suffered minor wounds. Pilot Peck managed to steer the burning plane away from the target, and ditched at roughly 9:15 and sank within a minute, roughly 10 miles south of Shortland.
Fate of Crew
The crew hid themselves until June 22nd, then paddled to nearby Mono Island where they were recognized as Allies and welcomed. A native named "John" approached them, and agreed to hide them from the Japanese. the group was moved five times during the first week to evade patrolling Japanese.
Afterwards, they were joined other American aviators who also ditched in the vicinity. First, P-38G 43-2296 pilot Benjamin H. King who ditched July 17, 1943. Next, the crew of three from TBF Avenger 05923 who ditched July 18, 1943, landing on the island on the 23rd.
Hidden on the island by the native people, the group of seven aviators ate only one chicken and no other meat and rotated reading the Bible at night to keep up their spirits, and on several occasions avoided nearby Japanese patrols. Peck's wounds became more severe, and on several occasions had to be carried.
After nearly three months, a portion of the group (Peck, Teft, Mitchell and King) planned to sail to the south and bring help to the others left on Mono. Using one of their life rafts and departed on September 13 during the moonlight night, and spent four days in the raft, and observed Japanese and Allied planes overhead.
On September 17, their raft was spotted by a patrol plane and dropped rations, but they were not able to retrieve them, and the plane departed. A PT-Boat was deployed to search for them, but was unsuccessful. At 6:00, a PBY Catalina escorted by fighters over flew their raft but departed.
Rescue of Raft
Rescue of Scott
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