Ensign Edward Joseph Philippe

His original Fighter-Six Log Book
Philippe might be the first person ever killed in combat flying the F6F Hellcat.
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 comes in.
If anyone has anything to add please send me an email at john@leisuregalleries.com

Below is a timeline of Edward Philippe's tour of duty

  1. Philippe's application into the US Naval Reserve
  2. Official two page synopsis of Edward Philippe's Naval Career. See page two here
  3. USS 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
  4. 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.
  5. USS Altamaha - 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.
  6. USS Enterprise - 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 SNJ-4 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."
  7. USS 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.
  8. 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.
  9. USS 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 log book.

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, Charles McCord.

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 Web Site
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.
  1. 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 and returned.
  2. Official two page synopsis of Edward Philippe's Naval Career. See page two here
  3. 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 two
  4. October 12, 1943 telegram to the parents from Chief of Naval Reserve notifing that Edward Philippe is MIA
  5. Citation for the Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded posthumously by James Forrestal  Sec of the Navy May 19, 194 - Sept 17, 1947
  6. Citation for the Air Medal - awarded posthumously by James Forrestal  Sec of the Navy May 19, 194 - Sept 17, 1947
  7. World War II Victory Medal  -receipt of acceptance of Medal and Certificate signed by Philippe's mother April 29, 1946
  8. Purple Heart Award - receipt of acceptance of Medal and Certificate signed by Philippe's mother April 29, 1946 here
  9. 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
  10. Citation for the Air Medal - awarded posthumously Sep 22, 1948 by John Sullivan Sec of the Navy
  11. Notification letter of Bronze Star - award and Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon
  12. Presidential Unit Citation for the USS Belleau Wood - mentions the attack on Wake Oct 5-6, 1943
  13. Page 2 of Fitness of Officers report filled out by Butch O'Hare describing Philippe April 16,1943 - June 30, 1943. Page one here.
  14. Confidential Mailgram sent 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
  15. 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.
  16. Philippe's Strike/Flight 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. See page two here.
  17. 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 letterhead

Below are scans of Philippe's Original Logbook
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  7.  philippe.oharesept6.1943.jpg
  8.  philippe.princetonsept1943.jpg
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  11.  philippe.septpage.JPG
  12.  philippe.march43wolverine.JPG
  13.  philippe.altamahamay1943.jpg
  14.  philippe.june43enterprise.JPG
  15.  philippe.july43enterprise2.jpg
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  17.  philippe.july42oakland2.JPG
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  19.  philippe.insidecover2.JPG
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  21.  philippe.equatorcrossing.JPG
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  23.  philippe.booksideview.JPG
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  25.  Here is Butch O'Hare Document we sold
  26.  Here is an O'Hare signature that we sold



The following was provided to me by Mark Maxwell
From the Official War Diary of Fighting Six (in Old Navy Yard, Washington DC)

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.

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