Charles V. August
F6F Hellcat pilot and Prisoner Of War (POW)
Charles Valentine August was born on January 10, 1916 to mother Elizabeth August in Royalton, Illinois. Later, his later his family moved to Whittier, California. He attended the University of California (UC) as a student. On October 16, 1940 he registered for the draft registration then enlisted in the U.S. Navy (USN) and was commissioned as a Lieutenant junior grade with serial number 104075.
During 1942, assigned to Fighting Squadron 4 (VF-4) as a fighter pilot. During November 1942, he participated in "Operation Torch" the Allied invasion of North Africa and was briefly taken prisoner by Vichy French forces then released.
Afterwards, assigned to Fighting Squadron 44 (VF-44) aboard USS Langley (CVL-27) as a F6F Hellcat pilot.
On October 27, 1944 took off from
USS Langley (CLV-27) leading a four plane division on a patrol and was attacked by six A6M Zeros from higher altitude but managed to repel their initial attack then went into pursuit. August claimed one shot down causing it to crash into a hillside.
On January 4, 1945 at 7:15am took off from USS Langley (CLV-27) piloting F6F Hellcat 71441 on a mission led by Commander Malcome T. Wordell to escort six TBF Avengers attacking Kobi on Formosa. August was leading the second division tasked with strafing parked planes at Kobi Airfield from 3,500' down to 500' to 50' at glide angles of 20° to 35°.
After the first strafing run, this Hellcat was observed to pull up into the clouds from 2,500' before the second strafing run. August re-joined the formation for the third strafing attack. Afterwards, the formation joined up and attacked a radio tower roughly 10 miles to the southeast. Around 10:20am, the division returned to Kobi Airfield to continue strafing. Over the target, this Hellcat suffered an engine failure and force landed near Kobi Airfield. When this aircraft failed to return, August was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Fate of the Pilot
In fact, August survived the force landing unhurt and was immediately taken prisoner, blindfolded and bound. Later, he was transported to Japan and held as a Prisoner Of War (POW) at Omori POW Camp and detained for the remainder of the Pacific War. During September 1945 August was liberated from Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku) Tokyo Bay Area 35-140 and returned to the United States.
Afterwards, his intact Hellcat was recovered by Japanese personnel from Kobi Airfield and transported to Kobi. Displayed at Kobi Shrine and later transported to Japan. At the end of the Pacific War, abandoned at Yokosuka Airfield.
August passed away in July 1985. Burial details unknown.
WWII Draft Registration Cards for California - Charles Valentine August (1916)
NARA "Records of World War II Prisoners of War" Charles V. August racial group 2 Negro [sic]
NARA "WWII Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Casualty List [California] U.S. Navy 1946 page 201 Released From Prison Camps -
Charles Valentine August