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  F6F-3 Hellcat Bureau Number 41821  
USS Wasp (CV-18)

Pilot  Lt. Frank E. Standring (rescued) TX
Crashed  July 25, 1944

Aircraft History
Built by Grumman in Bethpage, New York as Model G-50. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F6F-3 Hellcat bureau number 41881.

Wartime History
Assigned to USS Wasp (CV-18) to squadron VF-14. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On July 25, 1944 took off from USS Wasp (CV-18) at 1:58pm piloted by Lt. Frank E. Standring armed a 350 pound bomb on a bombing, strafing and fighter sweep over Babelthuap Island (Babeldaob) and Arakabesan Island (Ngerekebesang) in Palau (Belau).

The formation of sixteen Hellcats was divided into four divisions. Two divisions led by Lt. Punnell and Lt. Knight to flew top cover to intercept any enemy fighters while the other two divisions led by Lt. Garwood and Lt. Standring were armed with 350 pound bombs with instant fuses were on a bombing and strafing missions. One Hellcat aborted the mission.

Inbound to the target, the formation flew low over the sea until 30 miles from the target, then accelerated to full speed and climbed to 8,000' and approached Babelthuap Island (Babeldaob) from the east and observed no enemy aircraft in the air. The two divisions led by Lt. Garwood and Lt. Standring began bombing and strafing Babelthaup Airfield attacking three parked aircraft and anti-aircraft positions. The formation experienced heavy and medium anti-aircraft fire and performed evasive jinking maneuvers.

Retiring eastward, Lt. Standring's division spotted a medium cargo vessel on the eastern side of Urukthapel Island and made two strafing attacks without results. Pulling up, this Hellcat's drop tank was set on fire and began burning the wings. Observed by his wingman Ensign Houston who reported it over the radio to Standring who immediately jettisoned the drop tank.

In an attempt to put out the wing fire, Standring dove then climbed but the flames had damaged his control surfaces. Afraid his wing might fail, Standring rolled over and bailed out at 5,000' and landed safely in the sea roughly 8 miles west of Urukthapel Island. Observed not to have his life raft, Lt. Knight circled and dropped his life raft to him that landed roughly 2,000' away. From above, Standring was observed to retrieve the raft and inflate it.

Alone in his raft, the next morning Standring spotted a TBF Avengers from USS Franklin (CV-13) around 9:30am. Later, he observed two destroyers but failed to get their attention. A signalmen aboard USS Gatling (DD-671) spotted him and rescued him after twenty hours at sea. Aboard, he was given a shower, hot meal and allowed to sleep in the captain's cabin for 18 hours. On July 28, 1944 at 9:00am transfered to the USS Hancock (CV-19) then back to USS Wasp (CV-18).

Standring retired with the rank of commander, earning three Distinguished Flying Crosses (DFC) and eight Air Medals. He passed away on May 31, 1944 in Fort Collins, CO. He is buried at Grandview Cemetery in Fort Collins, CO at plot 11, 125, 9.

NARA USN VF-14 Aircraft Action Report, July 25, 1944 pages 1-5
(Page 2) "Lt. F. E. Standring - 20mm AA - bailed out safely - picked up following day by DD Gatling - returned aboard 28 July."
(Page 4A) "(For full details of his experiences, his story is recounted in his own words under the heading 'survival intelligence' at the end of this report.)"
NARA USN VF-14 Aircraft Action Report, July 25, 1944 pages 5A-5C "Survival Intelligence: An iron angel survives fire and water to fight (many) another day Lt. F. E. Standring's personal story (statement July 28, 1944)"
Navy Serial Number Search Results - F6F-3 Hellcat 41821
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List July 1944 - F6F Hellcat 41821
FindAGrave - Frank E Standring (grave photo)
Thanks to Katherine Rasdorf for additional research and analysis.

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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