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After Action Report
Date of Action: January 23, 2009
VMF-251 took off SW out of A40 at 2307 with 10 F4U-1As, piloted by 8 members of squadron and two volunteers. Assigned with VF-10 Grim Reapers and Rolling Thunder to escort B-24s of Duxford Wing and JV44 to target at A19. 251 formed by flights:
Squadron turned onto course 000 and took position over the bombers on climb to altitude of 25,000ft, making periodic reverses and weaving to maintain position. Flyboy experienced mechanical failure at 2313, returned to air at 2316. Squadron reached first turn in 10.12.6 and turned 300 with formation, leveling out at Angels 25. Reached second turn at 9.13.7 and turned onto course 270.
Wind out of N steadily pushed formation further south. Bomb group leader made third turn towards 6.14.3, before turning S to 180 for bomb run.
At about T+50 contact made with solo A6M, followed by another shortly after. Wyatt shot down A6M and Bodie shot down at 0000. Additional Zeros arrived at high altitude and engaged escorts while B-24s proceeded to target. Large furball broke out N A19.
Roche shot down 0004, followed by Morgan and Coronado at 0006. Trol shot down 0009. MstWntd shot down Zero at 0009, Wyatt claimed one at 0010, and Flyboy shot down Zero at 0011. MstWntd shot down 0010.
Squadron withdrew south with elements of Rolling Thunder in attempt to link up with bombers, shadowed by A6Ms. Off Shortland Island encountered elements of Rolling Thunder engaged with more Zeros, VMF-251 dove in to assist. Wyatt and Sidle shot down Zeros at 0019, and Flyboy claimed another at 0020 to help break up engagement.
Remainder proceeded SE at emergency speed to rendezvous with remainder of VF-10 and Rolling Thunder engaged off Vella Lavella. Encountered large fight off island and engaged.
Flyboy shot down Zero at 0028. King shot down 0030. Flyboy claimed Zeros at 0031 and 0032. Wyatt shot down Zero at 0034. Flyboy shot down 0034, and Sidle at 0037. Wyatt clear of engagement and withdrew towards Vella Lavella, but jumped and shot down by Ki-61 on attempt to regain altitude.