|Pilot 2nd Lt. Charles W. Kendrick VMF-223 (KIA, BR) San Francisco, CA
Crashed October 2, 1942
Charles W. Kendrick was born on April 16, 1917 in San Francisco, CA.
At an early age, his teachers described him as a genius and at age 16 was accepted to both Harvard and Stanford. Attending Stanford, he studied Greek, Latin, German, Spanish and French plus Aramaic and Hebrew. While studying law at Harvard he volunteered for service. Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps to VMF-223 and nicknamed "Red". On October 1, 1942 Admiral Nimitz awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). Kendrick was officially credited with five aerial victories making him an ace.
Built by Grumman Corporation in Bethpage, New York as a model G-36 with manually operated folding wings. Delivered to the United States Navy (USN) as F4F-4 Wildcat bureau number 02110. Shipped overseas to the South Pacific.
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (1st MAW), Marine Aircraft Group 23 (MAG-23) to squadron VMF-224 "Fighting Wildcats". No known nickname or nose art.
On October 2, 1942 after radar detected an formation of roughly twenty to thirty incoming enemy fighters. On the ground, a red alert was sounded and all available aircraft were scrambled. 2nd Lt. Charles W. Kendrick was one of four VMF-223 pilots that had the day off but took off from Fighter 1 on Guadalcanal at 12:20pm piloting aircraft assigned to VMF-224. In total, thirty-six Wildcats were scrambled including fourteen Wildcats from VF-5, eleven Wildcats from VMF-223, eleven Wildcats from VMF-224 and seven SBD Dauntless dive bombers.
Meanwhile, thirty-six A6M2 Zeros from the 6th Kokutai and Tainan Kokutai led by Lt. Kofukuda escorting nine G4M1 Bettys from Misawa Kokutai acting as decoys took off from Rabaul at 9:10am. By 10:00am. all the Bettys plus eight Zeros from the Tainan Kokutai and one Zero from 6th Kokutai aborted the mission due to engine trouble. By 12:10pm the remaining twenty-seven Zeros were over Guadalcanal at 27,880' to perform a fighter sweep.
VMF-223 pilots 2nd Lt. Ken Frazier, Kendrick and Charles Hughes climbed to 18,000' towards Tulagi. Spotting seven Zeros from the Tainan Kokutai, Ono Chutai including five to the left 4,000' below and a pair to the right 2,000' below. Frazier led the trio in an overhead attack against the pair of Zeros piloted by PO1c Yoshio Oki and PO1c Takeo Okumura. The Zeros spotted the Wildcats and performed a split-s then dove. Hughes dove following one but was unable to catchup. Meanwhile, Frazier and Kendrick pulled up but were unable to position for another attack and entered a cloud. This was the last time Frazier saw Kendrick. Likely shot down by Ono or PO3c Toyoo Moriua.
Major John L. Smith who was damaged and force landed F4F 03502 to the east of Henderson Field witnessed another Wildcat crash into a ridge further to the east. Likely, this was the crash of Kendrick's Wildcat.
When this Wildcat failed to return and was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was F4F 02098 (Lees MIA), F4F 5195 (Morgan, MIA), F4F 03502 (Smith, rescued), F4F 02118 (Galer, rescued) and F4F 02112 (Treptow, MIA). Several other Wildcats were damaged or suffered mechanical problems.
On October 3, 1942 the crash site was located roughly two and a half miles due east of the end of Fighter Strip #1, Henderson Field and two and a half miles u the side of a ridge by a USMC patrol led by Captain Cloyd R. Jeans. The crash site was identified by the identification tag and bureau number of the aircraft. Kendrick's body was buried at the crash site and marked with a pile of rocks and his dog tag.
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) was unsuccessful in relocating his burial site. On February 3, 1947 a let was written to USMCR Major Jeans in Joplin, Missouri requesting him to annotate a map and describe any landmarks to aid in the search. By March 3, 1947 his grave had been located and exhumed and reburied at the Army, Navy, Marine Cemetery on Guadalcanal (American Cemetery Guadalcanal) at row 242, plot G, grave 7.
Postwar, his father Charles Kendrick used used his political connections to get travel to Guadalcanal where he conducted an extensive search to locate his son's remains which he had been told were lost. They were found and his son's remains were transported to the United States for permanent burial.
Kendrick was officially declared dead the day of the mission. After his remains were recovered, he was buried at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma, CA at main mausoleum.
After his death, his sister was so profoundly affected by Charles' death she enlisted in the Marine Corps herself. In memory of Charles, his parents established a number of scholarships at Stanford University, and later also established twelve scholarships in the Law School of the University of San Francisco.
Charles Kendrick (father)
Fold3 NARA "United States Marine Corps Headquarters, Marine Aircraft Group Twenty-Three, First Marine Aircraft Wing, Fleet Marine Force page 62
"1230 Air Raid.... Radar reported flight of small fast planes approaching Henderson Field. 14 planes of VF-5, 11 of VMF-224, 11 of VMF-223 and 7 SBD's scrambled to attack. At 1300 about 30 Zeros and some bombers were engaged over field... Four Zeros were shot down and 6 of our fighters were shot down of which 2 pilots were recovered uninjured.
2nd.Lt. C. Kendrich shot down and plane & body found by patrol, plane burned, body buried."
Fold3 NARA "War Diary Marine Fighting Squadron 224 Marine Aircraft Group 23 First Marine Aircraft Wing, FMF From October 1, 1942 to October 31, 1942 page 3
"October 1, 1942 - At 0630 today, the decorations indicated were presented to the following squadron officers,,, In the same ceremony.. 2nd Lts Lees and Kendrick of VMF-223 were decorated... 2nd Lts Lees and Kendrick receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross."
October 2, 1942 - At 1200, the air raid alarm was sounded and the following pilots of this squadron took off.... 2dLt Kendrick of VMF-223 took off in one of the planes of this squadron [VMF-224]. The enemy's force, which consisted of twenty or thirty Zero fighters, was encountered over the [Henderson] field...
Lt. Kendrick of VMF-223 crashed four miles east of the field. Lt. Kendrick was killed and his plane demolished."
A History of Marine Attack Squadron 223 page 5 [PDF page 15]
"The action in the skies over Guadalcanal during September and early October  cost the lives of five VMF-223 second lieutenants: Zenith A. Pond, Noyles McLenan, Richard A. Haring, Wilis S. Les IIl, and Charles Kendrick."
History of the Marine Corps Aviation in World War II pages 96, 432 (aces), 486 (index)
(Page 96) "During early October ... Six of John Smith's VMF-223 pilots had been killed."
432) Marine Corps aces in World War II no. 105 Kendrick, Charles - number of planes shot down: 5
AAIR USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List October 1942 F4F Wildcat 02110 piloted by Kendrick
Letter to Major Jeans from Captain Edwin C. Clarke dated February 3, 1947 via Katherine Rasdorf
Admiral R. S. Edwards, USN from Alexander A. Vandegrift dated February 5, 1947 via Katherine Rasdorf
Letter to Admiral R. S. Edwards, USN from Alexander A. Vandegrift dated March 3, 1947 via Katherine Rasdorf
Lieut Charles Warren Kendrick (photo, grave photo)
First Team and The Guadalcanal Campaign Ambush [October 2, 1942 mission]
Guadalcanal Tome I pages 305-310 (U.S. pilots page 306, Japanese pilots 309)
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May 22, 2017