Monday, February 26, 2018

WW2 Battle of Midway Fallen - Navy Cross hero Frank O'Flaherty, USS Enterprise pilot

Ens. Frank O'Flaherty was a SBD-3 Dauntless pilot on the USS Enterprise at the Battle of Midway. 
Frank Woodrow O'Flaherty never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on February 26, 1918 in Nevada. His parents William and Carrie were also both born in Nevada. His father worked as an ore mill machinist. Carrie died of Spanish Flu in 1918. Frank had four brothers and two sisters. The children were split up after the death of their mother and Frank was raised by his mother's sister. By 1940 he had completed three years of college and was working as an accountant while living in Kansas.

He enlisted in the navy in September 1940. He became an aviation cadet in January 1941. By September 1941 he was an ensign and pilot in Scouting Squadron 6 (VS-6) on the USS Enterprise. He flew SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers. He was one of 19 pilots in his squadron who participated in the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942. At the battle Ens. O'Flaherty was flying one of 27 planes that chose the carrier Kaga as the target, leaving it in ruins. The mission was unlucky for the six planes in Ens. O'Flaherty's division - none of them made it back to Enterprise. O'Flaherty was seen ditching his plane in the ocean and he and his radioman Bruno Gaido got in a life raft. While other downed airmen were found, O'Flaherty and Gaido were not.

His posthumous Navy Cross award in December 1942 said in part: Participating in a devastating assault against a Japanese invasion fleet, Ensign O'Flaherty, with fortitude and resolute devotion to duty, pressed home his attacks in the face of a formidable barrage of anti-aircraft fire and fierce fighter opposition.

After the war US investigators discovered that O'Flaherty and Gaido were picked out of the water by the IJN destroyer Makigumo on June 4. Best guess is they were kept alive until June 15 at which point they were bound with weights and thrown overboard into the ocean to drown.

The destroyer escort USS O'Flaherty was named in his honor and commissioned in April 1944.
His cenotaph marker is at the Honolulu Memorial.

Thank you Frank for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Frank.

Last year on this date I profiled Arthur Isken, 3rd Armored Division, who was MIA for 55 years. You can read about Arthur here.

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

I created this video to explain why I started this project:

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WW2 Fallen 100 is supported by

The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation

“Where Every Day is Memorial Day”

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