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After Action Report
Date of Action: November 21, 2008
VMF-251 formed on NE runway, Midway, with 10 TBM-3s, consisting of:
VMF-251 launched into the wind and proceeded to circle airfield to point NE Midway, then turned 270, correcting course to arrive at 7.10.4. Squadron remained at low altitude of 1000ft and gathered into formation.
At 7.10.4 squadron turned 180, awaiting sighting of target before turning into engagement area. Kaga sighted by Swamp Dragons in 8.9.4 headed NW. Initial attacks resulted in some hits and one ship sunk. VMF-251 arrived in 7.9.7 and turned 090 to point N of sighting, then turned S at 8.9.7 and dropped altitude to 200ft.
VMF-251 made contact with additional friendlies in 8.9.4, but no visual of carrier. Second sighting placed target in 8.9.9 and VMF-251 corrected for second sighting. Wyatt spotted target bearing 11 o'clock and ordered squadron into position for attack at about 2345. VMF-251 formed on Wyatt and spread into attack formation. Wyatt ordered doors open.
Additional friendly contacts spotted and initiated attacks on CV. Some hits reported by other squadrons as 251 entered torpedo runs. Wyatt reached drop point and ordered torpedoes away. All fish released and squadron broke S to evade enemy AAA and some fighters in vicinity. As squadron egressed torpedo from Wyatt struck destroy at 2349 and sunk it. Sidle's torpedo sunk cruiser at 2349. aJoust sunk second destroyer at 2350. 251 joined by survivors of other squadrons with intent to rearm at Midway for second attack on Kaga.
251 engaged sporadically by enemy aircraft on withdrawal towards Midway, in which Sidle engaged and shot down D3A at 2357, but all craft arrived safely over island. Base was under attack by enemy A6Ms and D3As, and 251 forced to engage to defend itself. Sharp action ensued. 1Duke1 shot down D3As at 0003 and 0005, shot down 0010 after rearm. Morgan shot down A6M 0003, shot down 0009 after attempted rearm. Sidle shot down 0004. Hammer shot down A6Ms at 0003 and 0004. Wyatt shot down D3A at 0005. King crashed 0003. Lane shot down D3A at 0003.
Most of squadron survivors recovered by 0018. Hammer successfully rearmed and had jettisoned torpedo to return to base when he returned to rearm again and formed with several other TBMs returning to target area to attempt second strike on Kaga. Group of TBMs made it out west and continued to 8.9.9 where CV was contacted. Hammer and a second TBM made successful drops, but evasive maneuvers by carrier escaped further damage.
Survivors egressed on deck, pursued by A6Ms. One Zero shot down and another forced to withdraw by another TBM. After turning E for Midway, was engaged by two D3As and two A6Ms. Defensive fire from TBMs forced off D3As. One TBM downed by Zeros before hits were recorded by Hammer's rear gunner. Nearby F4Fs received request for assistance, but Hammer took fatal damage and shot down 0044.