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After Action Report
Date of Action: March 14, 2008
VMF-251 launched from Task Group 50 with 8 Aichi Type 1s, assigned to strike strategic targets at Dutch Harbor (target designation P29). Maj. Wyatt assigned as strike leader, with Type 0 fighters of Fighting 31 under RATTFINK assigned as escort/support.
Strike group flew circuit of task group before turning onto course 000 and proceeded to target, climbing to altitude of 16,000ft for approach under cover of overcast. Lt. Thorss experienced mechanical failure at 2318 and forced to bail out of aircraft. At grid 16.11.1 strike group turned in to target area, after circling around radar coverage at nearby airfield, and AAA defenses at ammunition dump, arrived over port and proceeded to attack.
Squadron section leaders Wyatt, Capt. Morgan, Capt. MEF4UD and Lt. Drazz lined up on port's vehicle shed, while remainder of squadron targeted ammunition, barracks and radar. Fighting 31 engaged two enemy P-40s sighted over Dutch Harbor, and dropped ordinance on strategic targets at the port.
MEF4UD received credit for vehicle hangar, while Lt. Johnson destroyed barracks. Warrant Officer Chanehed ordinance off-target, but destroyed gun emplacement near radar tower. Additional barracks destroyed by Fighting 31
Squadron turned S/SE to disengage, but intercepted by additional P-40s low. In vicious action Wyatt, Johnson, Chanehead and Lt. Bodie shot down by enemy fighters. MEF4UD, Morgan and Drazz continued egress. Warnings on HQ channel indicated squadron base destroyed by enemy bombers, so 251 survivors redirected to alternate recovery location at TG26.
MEF4UD, Morgan and Drazz encountered pair of P-40s en route to task group, but enemy withdrew. Second group encountered about 0005 which engaged 251 survivors. MEF4UD and Morgan chose to engage, allowing Drazz, whose aircraft had been heavily damaged by enemy fire and was now running dangerously low on fuel and unable to engage, to withdraw.Despite superior maneuverability and multiple hits on enemy aircraft, light armament of dive-bombers prevented them from inflicting significant damage, and both MEF4UD and Morgan shot down.
Delaying action successfully held up enemy fighters, and Drazz successfully recovered at Task Group 26 at 0026.