Harvey J. Scandrett
USAAF Fighter Pilot in New Guinea and over Japan
Harvey J. Scandrett was born in Liberal, Kansas and later moved to Los Angeles with his family. He attended UCLA and resided in North Hollywood, CA. In 1940, he enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) and was trained as a fighter pilot at Randolph Field and commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant serial number O-399564.
First Tour of Duty in New Guinea
In January 1942 sent overseas to Australia. Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter Group, 40th Fighter Squadron "Red Devils" as an Airacobra pilot based at Antil Plains Airfield in Queensland.
In the middle of May 1942 he flew an Airacobra northward to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby for a temporary duty assignment with the 36th Fighter Squadron. Arriving on May 16, 1942, he was immediately flying scramble missions against Japanese fighter sweeps and air raids targeting Port Moresby.
On May 17, 1942 Scandrett took off piloting a Airacobra on a mission to intercepted A6M2 Zeros over Port Moresby. During the air combat, he claimed a Zero shot down and was officially credited with an aerial victory credit. This was his first and only aerial victory of World War II and the first victory claimed by the 40th FS. Although two Zeros were lost that mission, both were damaged by AA fire, not the intercepting Airacobras.
On May 18, 1942 took off piloting an Airacobra on a mission to intercept Japanese bomber escorted by A6M2 Zeros over Port Moresby.
On June 16, 1942 took off piloting an Airacobra as part of "purple flight" on a mission to intercept A6M2 Zeros on a fighter sweep that resulted in the loss of four Airacobra and the C. O. Lt. Stephen Smith injured.
On March 20, 1943 he was decorated by Lt. General George C. Kenney and Brig General Ennis Whitehead and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Silver Star and Air Medal.
In May 1943, he returned to the United States for a new assignment and was promoted to the rank of Major. By late 1943 he was stationed at Page Field at Fort Myers, Florida as the Commanding Officer (C. O.) of the 15th Fighter Squadron. By the middle of September 1943 assigned to the 53rd Fighter Group (53rd FG) group operations. On October 14, 1944 at age 26, he married Retha Steelman of St. Petersburg, Florida at the chapel no. 4 at Drew Field.
Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, he was assigned to the 506th Fighter Group, Headquarters Squadron attached to 7th Fighter Command, 301st Fighter Wing.
Second Tour of Duty Iwo Jima
Scandrett was the deputy Commanding Officer (C. O.) 506th Fighter Group operating the P-51D Mustang for Very Long Range (VLR) missions from North Field (APO 86) on Iwo Jima over Japan.
On June 1, 1945 took off piloting P-51D "Madam Wham-Dam" 44-72607 on an escort mission bound for Osaka in Japan. Inbound, the weather was a severe front with showers and squalls from 30,000' or more with a base at sea level to 200'. The front had a solid overcast with a base at 200' to 6,000' top.
This P-51 was last contacted by radio at 10:55am and at approximately Lat 31° N Long 137° E over the North Pacific Ocean. When it failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA) and attributed to weather conditions. In total, 27 P-51s were lost with 24 pilots due to the bad weather.
Scandrett was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He previously earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Silver Star, Air Medal. When he went Missing In Action (MIA) he also earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.
USAF Aerial Victory Credit List - Scandrett, Harvey J. - May 17, 1942 page 173
History 458th Fighter Squadron June 1945 page 3
"Other than the tragic loss of pilots H. J. Scandrett, and R. V. Harvey"
40th Fighter / Flight Test Squadron Association - Organization via WayBack Machine July 23, 2008
"Lt. Harvey J. Scandrett had scored the first victory for the 40th while on TDY with another unit on 17 May."
Santa Maria Times "45 Register in For Air Course In Santa Maria" March 28, 1940 page 1 "Harvey J. Scandrett, North Hollywood."
Santa Maria Times "New Class In Air College Graduates" page 6 "Harvey J. Scandrett"
The Tampa Tribune "Air Corps Orders" November 20, 1940 page 2
"The following second lieutenants of the reserve are ordered from Kelly Field, Tex., to Seifridge Field, Mich.:... Harvey J. Scandrett."
Alabama Journal "63 U. S. Airmen Are Decorated 100 Awards Given TO Pacific Heroes" March 23, 1943
"Winners of three awards were Capt. Harvey Scandrett of Hollywood, Cal... each received a DFC, a Silver Star and an Air Medal."
News-Press "Top Hatter Chatter" by Cpl Herbert Schwartz September 11, 1943 pages 5
"Major Harvey J. Scandrett, our former CO, was transfered to group operations, and we can truly say here that was the 15th's loss, was group's gain."
The Tampa Tribune "Marriage License" October 10, 1944 page 12
"Harvey J. Scandrett, 26 of Drew Field, and Nancy Retha Steelman, 19 of 216 S. Boulevard."
The Tampa Times "Retha Steelman Bride of Colonel" October 16, 1944 page 7
Missing Air Crew Report 14653 (MACR 14653) created June 1, 1945
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harvey J. Scandrett
FindAGrave - LtCol Harvey Jackson Scandrett (photos, courts of the missing photo)
Fold3 - Harvey J Scandrett
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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