|Pilot Lt(jg) Robert W. Blakeslee, O-278524 USNR (MIA / KIA) Kalamazoo, MI
MIA October 14, 1944
Blakeslee enlisted in the U. S. Navy Reserve (USNR) on January 2, 1942. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with Gold Star, Purple Heart (posthumously). Previously, he claimed 1.5 aircraft in the air and 8 destroyed on the ground.
On October 14, 1944 took off from USS Lexington (CV-16) on a patrol mission. Airborne, he spotted a formation of twin engine torpedo bombers at low altitude and dove into their formation. Attacking, he claimed two bombers and radioed that he was hit and oil pressure was low and would make a water landing. Ditched approximately 200 miles off Formosa. Shot down by enemy fighters, he ditched and was declared missing in action.
Officially declared dead on October 15, 1945. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Gordon Steele (nephew of Blakeslee)
"My Uncle Robert Blakeslee was a Hellcat fighter pilot who was killed after attacking 19 Japanese aircraft by himself on October 14, 1944. He flew off the USS Lexington. He was lost approximately 200 miles off Formosa. I have attached a combat loss form and several newspaper articles. If you have any information or can instruct me as to how I might be able to help locate his wreck I would appreciate it. Chances are very good that it was at sea so there is probably no hope. His wife (my aunt) hoped that he made it to one of the many islands in the area."
"Robert Blakeslee, Missing Saved Pacific Naval Units"
"Ilion Radioman Plays Role in 1-Against-20 Air Battle" November 16, 1944
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert W. Blakeslee
LTJG Robert W Blakeslee (photo)
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February 4, 2018