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  TBD-1 Devastator Bureau Number 1515 Tail 5-T-6
USS Yorktown

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Matt Harris 1997
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Pilot  Ensign Herbert R. Hein, Jr., 083396 (POW, survived) CA
Bombardier  AOM3c Joseph D. Strahl, 3468559 (POW, survived) AR
Gunner  S1c Marshal E. "Windy" Windham, 3373641 (POW, survived) MS

Ditched  February 1, 1942

Mission History
This aircraft participated in the US Navy's first offensive bombing mission of the war with SDBs and TBDs from Task Forces 8 (Halsey) and 17 (Fletcher) bombed and bombarded enemy installations on the islands of Wotje, Kwajalein, Jaluit, Mili and Makin.

This aircraft took off from USS Yorktown as one of eleven TBD-1 Devastator torpedo bombers and seventeen SBD-3 Dauntless against Jaluit Atoll, all armed with bombs. Rain squalls and low cloud thwarted a coordinated attack.

Two of the TBDs became disoriented over the target headed the wrong way (north not southeast), low on fuel, they radioed that they were going to ditch in Jaluit Lagoon. This aircraft and TBD Devastator 0298 ditched together roughly six miles from Emiej (Imeji) on the western side of the atoll. The crew survived the landing unhurt.

Fates of the Crew
All were taken prisoner by the Japanese and transported to Japan where they spent the duration of the war as Prisoners Of War (POWs). At the end of the war, all were liberated on October 2, 1945 from Osaka Main Camp Chikko Osaka 34-135 and were returned to the United States.

Discovered during a survey requested by the US National Park Service in 1997 by Matt Harris. Located about six miles from Emiej (Imeji) Island on the western side of the atoll.

The force of the ditching tore off the forward bomb aiming windows, and rear of the bomb compartment. The only item missing is the pilot's map case in the cockpit. The rear machine gun is present and stowed inside the wreck. The flaps are still in the extended position.

Matt Harris reported in his survey:
"The aircraft is intact aside from the propeller and engine cowling which is separated and located approximately 15 feet from the main body of the aircraft. The glass canopy is still intact however the forward pilot’s window is broken. No weapons were found – these may have already been removed."

Donald L. Strahl (son of Joseph D Strahl)
"It is with great sorrow I advise you that Joseph D. Strahl died in October of 1999 and Marshal E. "Windy" Windham also died in 1999. Dad and Windy remained friend for life and both died within a few months of each other. My Dad, while visiting the Naval Air Museum told someone where these two aircraft could be found. He wanted to have his aircraft found and restored. This too is my wish. If this aircraft is restored to flying condition, I would like the honor to be able to fly in it."

Timothy Wright (grandson of Windham):
"I am the grandson of the late Marshall E. "Windy" Windham. I, along with the rest of Windy's family, would like to see this aircraft recovered and restored. I would someday like to see his aircraft and show my sons what their great grandfather flew in during WWII."

TIGHAR TBD Survey survey 2006, 2009
NARA "World War II Prisoners of War Data File" Hein Herbert R. Jr.
NARA "World War II Prisoners of War Data File" Strahl Joseph Donald
NARA "World War II Prisoners of War Data File" Windham Marshall Eugene

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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