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In a complex operation, the Japanese lured the larger U. Ensign Hans L. At a. Moments later, Ensign William C. Brooks, a pilot from the CVE St. Sprague ordered his baby flattops to launch all airplanes. At , flight quarters sounded in the Kitkun Bay, sending Snyder and his comrades sprinting to their aircraft.
By the time the last one catapulted skyward, geysers spouting from Japanese shells bracketed the ship. Snyder and his section leader, Jack Krouse, headed for the enemy ships. Elsewhere in the overcast sky, in disorganized clusters and even alone, U. Anti-aircraft shells burst around his aircraft and punched holes in its wings and fuselage. Still he roared on, answering its gunners with his. Then on to the next ship. As the morning passed, Japanese gunfire took its toll in the running duel.
Shells straddled the escort carrier White Plains, missing it but striking close enough to temporarily knock out the steering control. The destroyers Hoel and Johnston were literally blasted out of the water, as was the destroyer escort Samuel B.
Before long, Snyder, like so many other pilots engaged in the chaotic battle, ran out of ammunition. Krouse, my section leader and wingman, was facing the same situation. He decided we should head for the airfield the Army had just captured ashore at Tacloban.
There was nowhere to land. Then we remembered another airstrip at Dulag, 15 miles to the south, and turned for it. It was a mess too, but we made it in safely. Continue or Give a Gift. Daily Planet. Flight Today. History of Flight. Virtual Space. Subscribe Current Issue. Like this article?