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December 16, 1941
Today in World War II Pacific History
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Monday, 16 December 1941

FEAF: At 5:50am P-40E Warhawk pilot 1st Lieutenant Boyd D. Wagner and with P-40E pilot 1st Lt. Russel M. Church of the 17th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) armed with six 30 pound fragmentation bombs took off on on a mission to attack Japanese forces at Vigan Airfield and Vigan where 29 Japanese fighters were spotted the previous day and after winning a coin toss to fly the mission. Escorting the pair was P-40E Warhawk pilot Allison Strauss who flew top cover for the pair at 15,000'. Arriving over the target, the P-40s encountered intense anti-aircraft fire as Wagner made a dive bombing attack against a Japanese ship off Vigan and claimed several hits. Meanwhile, Church dive attempted to bomb parked planes at Vigan Airfield but was hit by anti-aircraft fire that hit nose and causing it to catch fire. Over the radio, Wagner ordered him to turn back and bail out but instead he continued his attack releasing his bombs among parked planes and soon after making his attack then exploded and crashed. Afterwards, both Wagner and Strauss made a single strafing pass over Vigan Airfield. While starting a second run, a single Ki-27 Nate managed to take off and Wagner spotted it, flipped over while near the ground, throttled back then shot it down as his fifth aerial victory claim, thereby becoming the first U.S. Army Air Force "ace" of World War II.

IJN: Battleship Yamato 大和 meaning "Great Harmony" and as a poetic name for Japan commissioned in the Imperial Japanese Navy.

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