Ensign Edward Joseph Philippe
His original Fighter-Six Log Book
Philippe might be the first person ever killed in combat flying the
He flew with the famous Navy Fighter Squadron-Six (VF-6) which was
commanded by Butch O'Hare
A true piece of Naval American History!
E.J. Philippe went MIA on October 5, 1943 during the Wake Island raids
of Oct 5-6, 1943
Philippe and two other VF-6 Pilots stationed on the USS Belleau Wood
came across a formation of Betty Bombers and Zereo Fighters.
You can read the description of that events as written by Executive
Officer Bullard of VF-6. Here
is page two. Bullard got the date wrong obviously and described
the events of Oct 5 as if it was Oct 6, 1943. As you can see by the Citation
for DFC below the date of Oct 5, 1943 is the date Philippe went MIA. This
error remains in Philippe's file to this very day. That being said his
description of the dogfight is breattaking!
Here is the Citation for the
Distinguished Flying Cross awarded posthumously by Secretary of the
Navy James Forrestal
"For extraordinary courage and devotion to duty while participating
in aerial flight as Pilot of a Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron Six during
action against enemy Japanese Forces in the Pacific War Area in the vicinity
of Wake Islands on October 5, 1943. Upon sighting a flight of Japanese
aircraft consisting of seven heavy bombers and five fighters, while on
combat air patrol with his division, Ensign Philippe dove to the attck.
He completed several aggressive attacks before he became separated from
his division. When last seen, Ensign Philippe was pressing home a determined
attack on the formation of bombers, several of which were smoking badly
and probably did not reach their base. His aggressive fighting spirit,
skill and courage were an inspirition to all with whom he served. From
this action Ensign Philippe failed to return."
Here is the Oct 5,1943 entry in Philippe's log book
Butch O'Hare had two victories on Oct 5,1943 and was in the same air
battle off of Wake.
O'Hare shot down a Zeke and a Betty Bomber that day.
Alex Vraciu, a 19 victory ace, shot down a Zeke that day as well.
Their description of the battle can be found here on
page 10 of Hellcat Aces by Barrett Tillman
Looks like this battle took place at 19-18N
166-34E right off of Wilkes Island which is part of Wake
I am digging and will have more info on that Air Battle as the research
If anyone has anything to add please send me an email at email@example.com
Below is a timeline of Edward Philippe's tour of duty
Philippe's application into the US
Official two page synopsis of
Edward Philippe's Naval Career. See
page two here
Wolverine - This Carrier was actually stationed in Lake Michigan
and was used in training pilots with Carrier takeoffs and landings. Very
interesting story about the USS
Wolverine here. During Philippe's
June 1942 training his log book entries shows that he flew with a Pilot
named Valencia on June 18 with Philippe being the co-pilot trainee.
I believe this was Eugene Valencia, who later became a famous WWII Ace.
Valencia was a training instructor at the time. June 1942 entries show
Philippe was at US Naval Reserve Aviation Base in Oakland California. After
almost a year of flight training Philippe qualified for Carrier Landing
on March 21, 1943
USS Prince William
- Philippe was assigned to Butch O'Hare's VF-3 Squadron which was later
designated VF-6 on July 15, 1943. They trained at N.A.S. San Diego
It was in San Diego on April of 1943 that Philippe
was certified to fly the F6F-3 and he signed
his Certification here along with O'Hare. Both papers are stapled into
Philippe's logbook! On June 15, 48 pilots and 36 F6F-3's shipped out and
they arrived at Puunene Naval Air Station on Maui June 23, 1943 and assigned
to the USS Enterprise to begin training.
- After different duties in the Pacific Altamaha returned to Pearl Harbor
for one day, March 23,1943 and then continued on to the West Coast. Altamaha
reached San Diego on April1, 1943 and commenced three and one-half months
of flight operations off the California coast alternating with upkeep in
San Diego. It was here in late May
1943 that VF-3 trained which included Night operations and Carrier
Landings. Here is Philippe's official 'Report
On The Fitness of Officers' report for the period April 16, 1943 -
June 30, 1943. See page two here.
- Philippe's first Carrier landing aboard the USS Enterprise was
June 30, 1943. Philippe stayed on the Enterprise for a few
weeks until mid July 1943 before the Enterprise left for Puget Sound
Shipyard for a much needed overhaul. While VF-6 waited for the USS Independence
(Independence left San Francisco on July 14,1943) to arrive at Pearl Harbor
Phillippe's logbook entries shows he was practicing "Night Flying" starting
July 14 and on July 20 & 24th he received Instrument Training on a
Texan Navy Trainer. VF-6 was stationed at Puunene,
Maui during this time. That picture was taken July 1943 at Puunene
Naval Air Station At Puunene they also practiced "Field Carrier Landings".
While researching I found this factoid that a SBD
WWII vet posted in 1999. "Also while on Maui we learned that we would
be assigned to the ESSEX, and her landing signal officer, Charles Ianobino,
came over from Oahu to drill us in field carrier landings. The field at
Puunene was situated between two large volcanic mountains, quiescent at
the moment, and the valley between was like a venturi through which the
wind blew constantly. This made for treacherous and turbulent air in which
we had to practice low and slow flight carried out at near stall conditions.
Our time in Maui was limited and the Navy has scarcely left a trace. Those
who have visited the isle in recent years report that its green vistas
are now dominated by high-rise resort hotels, that the Puunene airfield
is now an expanse of sugar cane beneath ruffled yet turbulent air and criss-crossed
by concrete strips."
Independence - Philippe and VF-6 was transfered to the USS Independence
on or around August 2, 1943.
Philippe's logbook shows he was on the Independence from August
6, 1943 through August 12. On August 26 his logbook shows an entry
of a carrier landing on the USS Princeton.
- On Auguts 23,1943 VF-6 was split up and 13 of the VF-6 Pilots which included
Philippe were tranfered to the USS Princeton. Their leader was Howard W.
"Sandy" Crews. Butch O'Hare
and his section stayed on the USS Independence and
returned to Puunene, Maui on Sept 8,1943. That Sept 1943 the USS Princeton
participated in battles around Baker Island and Philippe assisted
in shooting down an Emily on Sept 3, 1943. The Princeton later that
month went on to make a strike at Makin & Tarawa
on 18SEP1943 on which Philippe had three carrier landings that day.
The Princeton returned to Pearl Harbor on 21SEP1943.
Belleau Wood - On 24SEP1943, the squadron was again split into
three parts. This time, the PRINCETON group was under Paul "Pablo" Rooney
due to Sandy Crews lingering illness left over from his time on Guadalcanal
with VF-5 and the "Cactus Air Force". Philippe went aboard the USS
BELLEAU WOOD while Butch O'Hare took 12 planes and pilots aboard INDEPENDENCE
and George "Bull" Bullard (XO) took the third section aboard USS COWPENS.
On October 5,1943 the battle of Wake Island took place and Edward
J Philippe was killed in action that day. In Philippe's log book the
Oct 5,1943 entry reads "C.A.P. over Wake Task Force 1CL (Carrier Landing)
USS Belleau Wood. Engaged 6 Bettys & 2 Zero Fighters. Action against
Bombers undetermined as did not return from flight. His leader returned
shot up and wounded". This was the last entry in Ensign Edward Joseph Philippe's
Photo of Butch O'Hare's VF-6 Squadron pilots taken on
Puunene, Maui July '43
you can see a larger image here
Ensign Edward J. Philippe is third from your right on the back row
1st row LR - Dix Loesch, John Altemus, Foster Blair, Henry
Fairbanks, George Bullard, Butch O`Hare, Paul Rooney, Joe Robbins, Tom
Kerr, Bob Neel, Cy Chambers.
2nd row LR - John Ogg, Tom Willman, Hoot Hutt, Thad Coleman,
Willie Callan, Alexander Vraciu, Richard Trimble, Al Niquist, Bud Loesch,
William Rose, Sandy Crews
3rd row LR - Bayard Webster, Tom Hall, Robert Merritt,
Bascomb Gates, Cliff Seaver, William Davis, Don Kent, John Benton, Herschel
Pahl, Robert Klingler, Lindley Godson
4th row RL - John Staniszewski, John Johnston, Robert
Hobbs, Ashton Roberts, George Rodgers, Harvey Odenbrett, James Nichols,
Robert Locker, Charles Palmer, Edward J. Philippe, Sy Mendenhall,
Front Row - Herschel Pahl & Robert 'Cherry' Klinger
Back Row - Edward J. Philippe & Sy Mendenhall
Below is a photo I found researching. It is a photo of
the USS Belleau Wood (CV-24) taken from the Cruiser USS Minneapolis (CA-36)
on October 5, 1943!
It is Navy photo #NS022403. I wonder if Edward Philippe
and his F6F are on that deck or did he already take off? I found the picture
on the USS Minneapolis
Use this link to see another picture of the USS
Belleau Wood a few months later. A year after Philippe was killed the
USS Belleau Wood was hit by Kamikaze's
USS Belleau Wood - Oct 5, 1943
After we received the Philippe Logbook I wrote to the National Personnel
Records Center in Saint Louis and requested Edward Philippe's Official
Military Personnel File (OMPF). I was amazed when I received it as there
are almost 100 pages in his file. Below are some of the most interesting.
Notice from the USNR that Philippe's
Log Book is being sent home to his parents Sept 27, 1944! This
document was actually signed on receipt of the Log Book by Philippe's mom
Official two page synopsis of
Edward Philippe's Naval Career. See
page two here
Two page Letter from the Captain
of the USS Belleau Wood A.M. Pride to the parents notifying them that
Philippe had gone missing while in action. Page
October 12, 1943 telegram
to the parents from Chief of Naval Reserve notifing that Edward Philippe
Citation for the Distinguished
Flying Cross - awarded posthumously by James Forrestal Sec
of the Navy May 19, 194 - Sept 17, 1947
Citation for the Air
Medal - awarded posthumously by James Forrestal Sec of the
Navy May 19, 194 - Sept 17, 1947
World War II Victory
Medal -receipt of acceptance of Medal and Certificate signed
by Philippe's mother April 29, 1946
Purple Heart Award -
receipt of acceptance of Medal and Certificate signed by Philippe's mother
April 29, 1946 here
Citation for the Distinguished Flying
Cross - awarded posthumously dated Sep 22, 1948 by John Sullivan
Secretary of the Navy Sept 18, 1947 - May 24, 1949
Citation for the Air Medal
- awarded posthumously Sep 22, 1948 by John Sullivan Sec of the Navy
Notification letter of Bronze
Star - award and Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon
Presidential Unit Citation
for the USS Belleau Wood - mentions the attack on Wake Oct 5-6, 1943
Page 2 of Fitness of Officers report filled
out by Butch O'Hare describing Philippe April 16,1943 - June 30,
1943. Page one here.
from the USS Belleau Wood Oct 10, 1943 to the Secretary of the Navy notifying
that Philippe was MIA. Here is another telegram marked
Restricted that was sent Oct 18, 1943
Description of events by Executive
Officer Bullard of VF-6 at the time of Philippe's death. Here
is page two. This is the part in the file where the date of death
changes to Oct 6, 1943 which is not correct. I am assuming it was an error
on Bullard's part that remains in Philippe's file to this day! I believe
Paul Rooney was the Squadron Leader of the 12-13 VF-6 pilots aboard the
USS Belleau Wood. Bullard was the VF-6 XO but on Oct 5-6 he was on the
USS Cowpens which was part of the Carrier Task Force.
Data sheet - again they have date of death Oct 6. The "remarks"
for Oct 6 are actually what happened to Philippe on Oct 5, 1943.
page two here.
January 1946 official death notice
- From Oct 1943 - Jan 1946 he was listed as Missing
in Action. Here is the Oct 13, 1943 notice on USS Belleau Wood
Below are scans of Philippe's Original Logbook
The following was provided to me by Mark Maxwell
Here is Butch O'Hare Document we
Here is an O'Hare signature that we
From the Official War Diary of Fighting Six (in Old Navy Yard, Washington
The squadron was always being split up on different carriers until they
all got together in USS INTREPID for the 16-17 FEB1944 raid at Truk.
The section (actually 13 pilots) that went to USS PRINCETON on 23AUG1943
was Howard W "Sandy" Crews section that included Edward Phillipe, "Dix"
Loesch, "Thad" Coleman, "Wheels" Davis (Uncle Bill), John Altemus, "Jock"
Odenbrett, "Junior" Godson, "Cherry" Klingler, Bob Locker and three others
I have forgotten their names right now. I am scanning a photo taken
alongside the island of PRINCETON of Sandy's section. Of note is
the two Rising Suns on the "scoreboard". These were the first for the ship's
air crews but not Air Group 23. They belonged to Dix Loesch and Thad Coleman
of VF-6 while over Baker/Howland Islands (made famous by Amelia Earhart's
last flight) 0n 01SEP1943. The other sections (Bullard and Rooney)
were on USS INDEPENDENCE with Butch at Marcus Island in the Mariannas Group
on 31AUG1943. INDEPENDENCE returned to Puunene' on 08SEP1943 while PRINCETON
went on to make a strike at Makin & Tarawa on 18SEP1943, returning
to Pearl Harbor on 21SEP1943.
On 24SEP1943, the squadron was again split into three parts. This time,
the PRINCETON group was under Paul "Pablo" Rooney due to Sandy's lingering
illness left over from his time on Guadalcanal with VF-5 and the "Cactus
Air Force". They went aboard USS BELLEAU WOOD while Butch took 12 planes
aboard INDEPENDENCE and George "Bull" Bullard (XO) took the third section
aboard USS COWPENS. 05OCT1943 Wake Island - Ens. Edward Phillipe
listed as missing in action. 11OCT1943 the group returned to Hawaii.
Butch is named CAG-6 and goes aboard USS ENTERPRISE and will not be seen
again by his VF-6. LtCmdr Harry "Stinky" Harrison, XO of VF-5, is
named CO of VF-6.
A book written by LtCmdr W H Fitzpatrick and Forwarded by Lt. William
Gerler titled "Three War Cruises" is a Carrier Air Group Six diary, probably
published aboard USS HANCOCK at the end of the war. This was their last
ship before decommissioning of the group took place. It devotes one paragraph
to the Wake Island attacks of 05 & 06OCT1943
" At dawn on October 5, the two-day strike against Wake began. AA batteries
and grounded aircraft were strafed. Seven planes were destroyed on the
ground. In the air, O'Hare got a Zeke and a Betty, Vraciu a Zeke, and Ashton
Roberts, Herschel Pahl and Henry Landry each flamed and downed a Jap. After
the attack, which knocked out Wake as a base for many weeks, the fighters
returned to the Hawaiian Area to learn that their skipper was air group
commander following the detachment of Bucky Lee."
The Japanese-occupied Wake Island was bombed several times by American
air forces in 1943.
The first was a successful American air raid on October 5-6, 1943.
After pilots of VF-6 and others attacked Wake the Japanese garrison commander
Rear Adm. Shigematsu Sakaibara ordered the execution of the 98 captured
American civilian forced laborers remaining on the island. They were taken
to the northern end of the island, blindfolded and machine-gunned. One
of the prisoners escaped the massacre, carving
the message 98 US PW 5-10-43 on a large coral rock near where the victims
had been hastily buried in a mass grave. The unknown American was recaptured
and beheaded. After the war, Sakaibara and his subordinate, Lt. Cmdr. Tachibana,
were sentenced to death for this and other war crimes. Tachibana's sentence
was later commuted to life in prison. The murdered civilian POWs were reburied
in Honolulu Memorial, Hawaii.