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USS Hornet (CV-12)
|Pilot Lt(jg) Garl W. Hardin, O-145619 (MIA / KIA) Texarkana, TX
Gunner AR2c Edwin L. Hills, 6472734 (MIA / KIA) NJ
MIA March 29, 1944
Built by Curtiss. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as SB2C-1C Helldiver bureau number 18454. Assigned to USS Hornet (CV-12) to Bombing Squadron VB-2. No known nose art or nickname.
On March 29, 1944 at 8:15pm took off from USS Hornet (CV-12) piloted by Lt(jg) Garl W. Hardin armed with two 1,000 pound armor piercing (AP) aerial bombs as one of twelve Helldivers on a strike against Palau. After take off, SB2C Helldiver 18456 piloted by Ransom ditched, both crew members were rescued.
The other eleven Helldivers led by Lt Commander Campbell rendezvoused with fifteen F6F Hellcats and nine TBF Avengers from Hornet for a strike against enemy ships off Koror, Babelthuap, and Urukthapel. The weather was clear with unlimited visibility and cumulus clouds with 5/10 coverage between 3,000-4,000'.
Dive bombing from an altitude of 13,000', the Helldivers made a 70° angle dive against a Japanese vessel identified as an oiler [likely repair ship Akashi] anchored off the northern tip of Urukthapel island and release their bombs from 3,000', claiming a direct hit on the mid section of the vessel. Anti-aircraft fire was reported.
This aircraft was the third to dive bomb and was last seen entering the dive but was never seen to crash nor was it observed after the run. When this aircraft failed to return, the crew was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA) on March 30, 1944. The loss was believed to be caused by enemy anti-aircraft fire over the vessel.
The crew was officially declared dead on January 16, 1946. Both are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl). Hardin also has a memorial marker at 826 North State Line Avenue in Texarkana, TX.
Peggy Anderson (niece of Hardin)
"Praying that we will bring Garl Hardin home as well as Edwin Hills."
NARA Record Group 38: VB-2 Aircraft Action Report March 29, 1944
VB-2 Yearbook "Chock to Chock" includes two photographs of Hardin and a memorial dedication to him
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List March 1944 incorrectly lists loss date as March 30, 1944
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Garl W. Hardin
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Edwin L. Hills
FindAGrave - LTJG Garl Willard "Hardin" Hardin (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - LtJG Garl W Hardin (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - ARM2 Edwin L Hills (tablets of the missing)
Thanks to Peggy Anderson and Katherine Rasdorf for additional information
March 29, 1944
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