|Aircraft Commander Ensign Robert G. Tills, O-081538 (MIA / KIA) WI
Sunk December 8, 1941
Tills was born on March 9, 1918. In 1937, he enlisted in the U. S. Naval Reserve as a seaman second class as a 19 year old. Two years later, he was commissioned as an ensign in the Naval Reserve. In April 1941, Tills gained regular Navy status and was soon flying patrols in the Philippines. After the Japanese attack on the Philippines, Tills was the first U. S. Navy officer to be lost in defense of the Philippine Islands.
Built by Consolidated. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN). Assigned to VP-101 operating from the USS William B. Preston (AVD-7) off Cavite Naval Base inside Manila Bay.
On December 8, 1941, during the early hours of the monring, PBY Catalinas were searching the sea off the Philippines signs of the Japanese ships or invasion force. Two Catalinas, this aircraft at PBY Catalina 1230 remained moored in Malalag Bay off Davao Del Sur. Shortly before 8:00am, nine Japanese fighters attacked and strafed the Catalinas, sinking them both.
US Navy official history adds:
[Japanese fighters] "strafed the helpless PBYs, turning them into colanders of metal and fabric and setting them afire... Ensign Robert Tills died in the fusillade of bullets."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert G. Tills "remains have been recovered and identified"
FindAGrave - Ens Robert George Tills (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Ens Robert George Tills (photo, grave photo)
AIIR USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List December 1941 PBY-4 Catalina 1229
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January 5, 2018