Major Raymond H. Wilkins
3rd Bomb Group, 8th Bomb Squadron MIA pilot B-25D "Fifi" 41-30311
Raymond "Ray" Wilkins was the Commanding Officer (C.O.) of the 8th Bombardment Squadron (8th BS), 3rd Bombardment Group, 5th Air Force.
On July 29, 1942 took off piloting an A-24 Dive Bomber on the "convoy mission" against Japanese ships off Gona. His aircraft was the only plane to return safely.
On July 29, 1942 took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted an A-24 Dive Bomber as one of eight A-24s on a mission to dive bomb Japanese ships off Gona. The formation was escorted by P-39 Airacobras from the 41st Fighter Squadron (41st FS) flying top cover plus P-39 Airacobras from the 80th Fighter Squadron (80th FS) flying close escort. Inbound to the target, one A-24 aborted the mission leaving seven A-24s to bomb Japanese transports 20 miles north of Gona, roughly 1 1/4 miles form shore. The convoy was protected by A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai which intercepted the A-24s flying in two waves as they started their dives. The first wave of three was led by A-24 41-15797 piloted by Major Floyd W. Rogers, A-24 piloted by Hill (heavily damaged and force lands at Fall River) and A-24 piloted by Raymond Wilkins that was the only aircraft to return to 7 Mile Drome). The second wave of four were all shot down.
Medal of Honor
For his actions on November 2, 1943 Wilkins earned the Medal of Honor posthumously. He also earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart, posthumously.
|Medal of Honor (November 2, 1943) Posthumously
Citation: "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Rabaul, New Britain, on 2 November 1943. Leading his squadron in an attack on shipping in Simpson Harbor, during which intense antiaircraft fire was expected, Maj. Wilkins briefed his squadron so that his airplane would be in the position of greatest risk. His squadron was the last of three in the group to enter the target area. Smoke from bombs dropped by preceding aircraft necessitated a last-second revision of tactics on his part, which still enabled his squadron to strike vital shipping targets, but forced it to approach through concentrated fire, and increased the danger of Maj. Wilkins' left flank position. His airplane was hit almost immediately, the right wing damaged, and control rendered extremely difficult. Although he could have withdrawn, he held fast and led his squadron into the attack. He strafed a group of small harbor vessels, and then, at low level, attacked an enemy destroyer. His 1,000 pound bomb struck squarely amidships, causing the vessel to explode. Although antiaircraft fire from this vessel had seriously damaged his left vertical stabilizer, he refused to deviate from the course. From below-masthead height he attacked a transport of some 9,000 tons, scoring a hit which engulfed the ship in flames. Bombs expended, he began to withdraw his squadron. A heavy cruiser barred the path. Unhesitatingly, to neutralize the cruisers guns and attract its fire, he went in for a strafing run. His damaged stabilizer was completely shot off. To avoid swerving into his wing planes he had to turn so as to expose the belly and full wing surfaces of his plane to the enemy fire; it caught and crumpled his left wing. Now past control, the bomber crashed into the sea. In the fierce engagement Maj. Wilkins destroyed two enemy vessels, and his heroic self-sacrifice made possible the safe withdrawal of the remaining planes of his squadron."
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