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USS Bennington CV-20
VT-82 Feb 18, 1945
|Pilot Ensign Robert "Bob" T. King (survived)
Gunner AOM3c Grady Alvan York, Jr., 5568232 USN (POW, executed 2-23-45) Jacksonville, FL
Radio ARM3c James "Jim" W. Dye, Jr. (POW, executed 2-25-45) Mount Ephraim, NJ
Ditched February 18, 1945
Built by General Motors, Eastern Aircraft Division as model G-40. Constructors Number 47. Delivered to the United States Navy (USN) as TBM-3 Avenger bureau number 22904.
Assigned to the USS Bennington (CV-20) to Torpedo Squadron 82 (VT-82). No known nickname or nose art. Tail code 113 with a white arrow pointing upward the squadron motif.
On February 18, 1945 took off from USS Bennington (CV-20) piloted by Ensign Robert "Bob" T. King on a dive bombing mission against installations on the shore of Futami Ko (Futami Bay) on Chi Chi Jima. Over the target, TBM Avenger 22889 piloted by Ensign Robert J. Cosbie was hit by anti-aircraft fire and struck this aircraft before crashing in flames into the sea off Chi Chi Jima in Japan.
Fearing the plane would crash, pilot King attempted to maintain control and ordered his two crew to bail out to save their lives and were observed to parachute out safely and landed in enemy territory and were reported as Missing In Action (MIA).
Despite the damage, King was able to maintain control of the damaged aircraft and ditched into the sea near destroyer USS Harrison DD-573. During the landing, he sustained slight injuries but was rescued and later returned to duty.
Fates of the Crew
York and Dye successfully bailed out over the target. Both were captured by the Japanese and became prisoners of war (POW).
On February 25, 1945 Dye was executed on the orders of Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Captain Shizuo Yoshii. Parts of his dead body were removed and served to high ranking officers as part part of a Bushido warrior indoctrination ceremony. His fiancée, Gloria Nields, had given him a white scarf, which he always wore when flying that was taken as a souvenir by a Japanese Lieutenant.
War Crimes Trial
At the end of the Pacific War, Captain Yoshii became a Prisoner Of War (POW). During 1947, he went on trial as a war criminal on Guam for war crimes including the murder of Dye and was found guilty, hanged and buried in an unmarked grave on the island.
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, American occupation forces located and exhumed Dye's remains and transported them back to the United States for permanent burial.
York was officially declared dead on February 23, 1945. He is listed as missing in action (MIA) and memorialized at the courts of the missing at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl).
Dye was officially declared dead on February 25, 1945. After his remains were recovered, he was permanently buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at section N grave 1291.
Navy Serial Number Search Results - TBM-3 Avenger 22904
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List February 1945 - TBM-3 Avenger 22904 listed as area "Empire" and Fate "M" [Missing] incorrectly, pilot rescued, two crew members POW, executed
NARA Torpedo Squadron Eighty-Two - Official Squadron History 1 April 1944 to 9 July 1945 pages 7-8
(Page 4) "18 Feb. - Shipping and waterfront installations at Futami Ko Chichi Jima were attacked with indeterminate results."
(Page 5) "Ensign Robert T. King's plane was heavily damaged. His crew, Grady A. York, Jr. AOM3c, and James W. Dye, Jr., ARM3c, bailed out over the target and are missing. Ensign King was slightly injured in the subsequent ditching. He was rescued by a DD [destroyer].
(Page 14) "During the strike [February 18, 1945] on Chichi Jima.. On this same strike the plane flown by Ensign Robert T. King was heavily damaged. His crew, Grady A. York, Jr. AOM3c, and James W. Dye, Jr., ARM3c, bailed out and are missing. Ensign King was slightly injured while making a water landing."
NARA U. S. S. Bennington CV-20 Action Report For Period 10 February -- 2 March 1945 page 3, 10, 12
(Page 3) "Bennington planes (16 VF, 11 VB, 11 VT) joined others in a strike on shipping and harbor installations, northern part of Futami Bay, Chichi Jima. Heavy AA encountered. Lost or missing: 2 VT, 1 VB, 2 pilots, and 5 aircrew men. Damage inflicted on small ships, seaplane base and waterfront shops."
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File does not list either York or Dye as official POWs of the Japanese
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Grady A. York Jr.
FindAGrave - Grady Alvah York (photos)
FindAGrave - James Wesley Dye, Jr (photos, grave photo)
Flyboys (2004) includes the story of this aircraft and crew
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
February 18, 2020
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