A selection of related stories of
U.S. Naval Aviation In the South Pacific during WW II

Featuring the Lexington Aircraft Carrier
and her dedicated crew as key participants in

The Battle of the Marianas — June 1944

Chapter 2
The Warren McLellan Story

Page 3 of 5 Pages

I delayed several thousand feet before pulling the ripcord hoping to avoid Japanese gunfire. After I pulled the ripcord to my parachute I saw my burning plane on the water and a Jap Zero strafing it. It was dark when I hit the water still strapped to the parachute. The parachute acted as a sea anchor and instead of riding on top of the waves, I was going under the waves and was about to drown. I got rid of the parachute which was attached to my lifeboat - I couldn’t get the lifeboat loose and had to let it all go or drown. I kept most of the other stuff - ripcord, survival pack and a 38 caliber pistol. Soon I had to let it all go including my boots because I didn’t think I would ever need them again and they were full of water. The survival pack was waterlogged and felt like 50 pounds of lead. I discovered only half of my flotation gear (the Mae West) was inflated and I was up to my chin in water.

Typical dress and equipment worn by
carrier pilots in the South Pacific during WW II. It is obvious that this collection of equipment, water-logged, damaged and malfunctioning, could become a serious hazard to a downed crewman

Photo Ctsy: Carrier War, Lt. Oliver Jensen

The Marianas Trench is 35,000 feet deep. I was over 300 miles from my carrier, with no lifeboat and in the middle of the Japanese Fleet and it was all but dark. I saw my only hope of getting out of this mess coming right at me - a Japanese cruiser. I was trying to decide which way to swim to get out of its way when it turned and went to one side. It was so close to me that I could see the color of their uniforms even though it was virtually dark. The uniforms were white and brownish olive drab.

Now things began to settle down. I saw a Japanese carrier going by but it was listing so badly I didn’t think it could stay afloat much longer. There were four or five Zeroes trying to find a place to land. Then everything got very still but I could feel thudding sounds in the water. This went on for a very long time even though the Japanese had left the area. I believe the thudding came from the carriers that had been sunk. As the ships sank deeper into the Mariana trench the pressure was so great that the sealed compartments in the ships were collapsing.
Below: Jap carrier, her flight deck buckled
by the force of a torpedo explosion.

Ctsy: Mission Beyond Darkness
by Bryan and Reed

Chapter 2— End of Page 3 of 5 Pages — Go to Page 4

Page —12345

Or This Story’s

Cover PageEditor’s IntroductionTable of Contents

Fred Gwynn’s “Torpedo 16 Chapter — 1234


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