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After Action Report
Marine Fighting Squadron 251

Date of Action: January 16, 2009
Base of Operations: Kolombangara (A11)
Division Assignment: Defense Kolombangara

VMF-251 took off from Kolombangara (A11) at 2307 with nine F4U-1 Corsairs, and proceeded Northwest after circling airfield towards Vella Lavella. Squadron organized into flights:

Red Flight
Maj. Wyatt
Capt. Sidle
2nd Lt. King

Blue Flight
Capt. MEF4UD
W.o. Coronado
2nd Lt. Gwardyak
1st Lt. Roche

White Flight
Capt. Morgan
2nd Lt. Bodie

VMF-251 assigned to patrol gap between Vella Lavella (A12) and A30, located SE corner of Choiseul. 325th Checkertails to patrol west side of Kolombangara, with Arabian Knights provided closed CAP of Kolombangara.

Before 251 reached altitude encountered group of A6Ms high. Zeros initially flew past squadron, but then reversed in and forced 251 to engage.

Roche shot down 2321. Morgan and MEF4UD each claimed A6M at 2323. Sidle shot down A6M at 2324, and Wyatt claimed Zero at 2325. King shot down 2329.

Additional Zeros shot down by Wyatt and Sidle at 2330, and Coronado downed two Ki-67s at the same time. MEF4UD shot down Ki-67 at 2331, and Sidle claimed additional A6M at 2332. MEF4UD shot down D3As at 2332 and 2333, and Coronado claimed D3A at 2333.

Morgan shot down D3A at 2334, and Sidle damaged in collision and forced to bail out. Bodie shot down D3A at 2336. MEF4UD returned to base at 2337. Morgan bailed out with damage at 2338. Coronado rearmed at 2341.

Ki-67 bombers made second run on Kolombangara. Wyatt shot down one at 2342, collided with Ki-67 at 2347 and broke up.

Gwardyak returned to base at 2351. Coronado returned at 2358, and Bodie shot down 2358.

Personnel Status
Maj. David Wyatt Collided
Capt. Michael Sidle Bailed Out
2nd Lt. Frank King Shot Down
Capt. MEF4UD Landed Safely
W.O. Eli Coronado Landed Safely
2nd Lt. Karl Gwardyak Landed Safely
1st Lt. Neil Roche Shot Down
Capt. Charlie Morgan Bailed Out
2nd Lt. Norwood Bodie Shot Down

Equipment Status
9 F4U-1 3 Recovered Safely

6 Lost

Pilot Victories
Maj. David Wyatt 3
Capt. Michael Sidle 3
Capt. MEF4UD 4
W.O. Eli Coronado 3
Capt. Charlie Morgan 2
2nd Lt. Norwood Bodie 1