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  TBD-1 Devastator Bureau Number 0335  
USN
USS Enterprise
VT-6

Click For Enlargement
USN c1942

Pilot  AMMA Harold F. Dixon (survived) La Mesa, CA
Crew  Anthony "Tony" J. Pastula (survived) Youngstown, OH
Crew  Gene Aldrich
(survived) Sikeston, MO
Ditched  January 16, 1942

Aircraft History
Built by Douglas. Delivered to the U. S. Navy. Assigned to the USS Enterprise to squadron VT-6. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On January 16, 1942 took off from the the USS Enterprise after crossing the equator on a reconnaissance mission. Unable to return to the carrier, this Devastator ditched into the eastern Central Pacific out of fuel.

Fates of the Crew
The three crew survived the ditching unhurt and successfully deployed the Devastator's life raft. For the next thirty-four days, the three crew survived in the open sea, traveling over 750 miles before reaching land at Puka Puka Island and were rescued.

Afterwards, Dixon earned the Navy Cross for "extreme heroism, exceptional determination, resourcefulness, skilled seamanship, excellent judgment and highest quality of leadership". Pastula and Aldrich received presidential commendations and were cited for "extraordinary courage, fortitude, strength of character and exceptional endurance".

Display
The life raft the crew used was recovered and afterwards was displayed at the U. S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland with a plaque detailing the crew's story. Today, it is displayed as part of an exhibit at the National Museum of Naval Aviation (NMNA).

Memorials
Dixon died on June 26, 1987. He is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery at plot S, grave 188.

Pastula died on October 19, 1982. His burial details are unknown but presumed to be in a private cemetery in Ohio.

Aldrich died of cancer on March 27, 1973 in San Diego. His burial details are unknown but presumed to be in a private cemetery in California.

References
The Raft by Robert Trumbull tells the story of the crew's ordeal
The First Team page 72
FindAGrave - Anthony J. "Tony" Pastula (news articles)
FindAGrave - Gene Aldrich (obituary, news articles)
FindAGrave - Harold Frederick Dixon (photo, news articles)
Oxnard Press Courier "Gene Aldrich Obituary" March 29, 1973
Against The Sun independent film about the crew

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

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