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After Action Report
Marine Fighting Squadron 251

Date of Action: February 20, 2009
Base of Operations: A23
Division Assignment: Defense C84

Squadron took off at 2302 with twelve Ki-61s, assigned defense of Task Group C84. Squadron formed up into flights:

Red Flight
Maj. Wyatt
2nd Lt. Coronado
1st Lt. Trol
1st Lt. Santana

Blue Flight
1st Lt. Hammer
2nd Lt. Joffe
1st Lt. aJoust
W.O. Downey

White Flight
Capt. Morgan
1st Lt. Lane

Green Flight
Capt. Sidle
1st Lt. Roche

Trol involved in accident on takeoff and aborted mission. Remainder of squadron formed up and proceeded NW to rendezvous with Ki-84s of VF-17 over task group.

Squadron climbed to 20,000ft and divided by flights. Red and White Flights proceeded to N side of task group, while Blue and Green turned to patrol W side. Red and Blue maintained 20,000ft, White and Green climbed to 25,000.

Santana experienced mechanical failure at 2337 and aborted. Snowey suffered same and aborted at 2339. Remainder of squadron continued patrolling airspace.

After reports that strike force en route to task group was destroyed VMF-251 initially ordered to relieve defense of A26, but order reversed about 2340. At 2345 contact with enemy bombers sighted and squadron rolled into attack.

Hammer, Joffe and aJoust shot down B-25s at 2347, and aJoust added two more, Wyatt claimed three and Coronado and Joffe each one at 2348. Morgan collided with B-25 at 2348 and went down. Sidle and Hammer each shot down B-25 at 2349.

aJoust, Coronado and Joffe shot down B-25s at 2350. Sidle claimed two and Coronado one at 2351. Coronado claimed another at 2352.

Squadron at this time low on ammunition and began egressing to rearm. Before squadron could withdraw second wave of B-25s began approach on task group from the W. Squadron turned in to engage.

Wyatt shot down one and Roche claimed two at 2356. Joffe claimed one at 2357, Sidle one at 2358, and Hammer one at 2359. Wyatt and Coronado out of ammunition but briefly continued harassment of bombers before withdrawing to rearm. Lane ditched at 2359, and took off in spare plane at 0000 against orders. aJoust ditched with damage at 0001. Sidle rearmed at 0005 and returned to engagement area.

B-25 credited to Coronado went down at 0006, and Hammer shot down B-25. Wyatt's gear collapsed on landing at 0006 and was put out of fight. Hammer claimed two B-25s at 0007 while enroute to rearm. Coronado rearmed at 0008. Hammer at Joffe rearmed at 0009.

Coronado shot down B-25 at 0010. Lane shot down 0013. Sidle shot down one more B-25 at 0014.

Roche recovered at A23 at 0022. Remainder of squadron returned to base at 0055.

Personnel Status
Maj. David Wyatt Landed Safely
2nd Lt. Eli Coronado Landed Safely
1st Lt. Trol Crashed on takeoff
1st Lt. Jonathan Santana Aborted
1st Lt. Mike Hammer Landed Safely
2nd Lt. Ben Joffe Landed Safely
1st Lt. aJoust Ditched
W.O. Phillip Downey Aborted
Capt. Charlie Morgan Collision
1st Lt. C.J. Lane III Shot Down
Capt. Michael Sidle Landed Safely
1st Lt. Neil Roche Landed Safely

Equipment Status
13 Ki-61 5 Recovered Safely

1 Recovered (Damaged)

2 Mechanical Failure

5 Lost

Pilot Victories
Maj. David Wyatt 4
2nd Lt. Eli Coronado 6
1st Lt. Mike Hammer 7
2nd Lt. Ben Joffe 4
1st Lt. aJoust 4
Capt. Michael Sidle 5
1st Lt. Neil Roche 2