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USS Yorktown CV-5
|Pilot Lt(jg) Leslie L. B. Knox, O-083148 USNR (MIA / KIA) Brisbane, Australia
MIA May 7, 1942
The first section included flight leader Flatley with Ens. John Baker and Ens. Harry Gibbs. The section section included Brainard Macomber and Edgar Bassett. The third section included Lt(jg) William Woollen and Ensign Leslie L. B. Knox. At 6:08pm while flying at 2,000' at a heading of 240° roughly 30 miles south of the carrier they descended into rain clouds and spotted action below.
Spotting six aircraft emerge from the clouds in the opposite direction that were at first believed to be friendly Wildcats from VF-2 but were then identified as enemy aircraft.
Without orders, Ensign Knox left formation to attack and was followed by Woollen and attacked a formation of six B5N Kates led by Lt. Tatsuo Ichihara from Shokaku. During his first pass, Knox claimed one shot down and broke up the formation into two sections with both pilots chasing them individually into bad weather.
When Knox failed to return, he was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). He likely shot a second Kate before being hit by defensive fire or becoming lost due to radio or Zed Baker homing beacon failure.
For extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron FORTY-TWO (VF-42), embarked from the U.S.S. YORKTOWN (CV-5), in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Battle of the Coral Sea. On that evening, as one of the fighters launched to oppose enemy Japanese aircraft in the vicinity of his ship, Ensign Knox attacked a formation of seven enemy aircraft, shooting down one and assisting in the action which resulted in dispersing the others. In this engagement he displayed unusual skill and devotion to duty, carrying out his mission with determination and aggressiveness against great enemy odds and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. He failed to return from this action. His outstanding courage and determined skill were at all times inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
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