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 4 of 5 Pages

The night was long. I felt a fish once when I moved my hand into it. Not a huge one but big enough to scare me. Salt water will make you sick and eventually I got sick, several times. My hands began to shrivel - my tongue began to swell - I lost a lot of weight that night.

During the night I thought of what a predicament I was in: 300 miles from the carrier, 600 miles west of Guam and swimming in 35,000 feet deep water.

I needed a miracle. I began to realize that I would not leave a legacy to this world. I had not accomplished much in life - 22 years old - no family of my own and none in sight I had nothing to leave as a legacy.

My mother and father were living in Fort Smith. Dad, Herbert McLellan, traveled and was in Booneville, AR that night When he returned home the next day and mother tried to tell him the story as the newspaper wrote it up, Dad stopped her and said, "I know it for I dreamed about it last night." I always knew prayers for my safety were offered daily from my family and from my home church. I felt those prayers that night.

TBF Grumman torpedo
bomber called the
Photo ctsy Life Inc.
SBD Douglas
dive bomber.
Photo ctsy Life Inc.
F6F Grumman
carrier fighter.
Photo ctsy Life Inc.
The next day my squadron came over me about 10:00 a.m. I pulled a dye marker to color the water around me and they dropped me and each of my two crewman a lifeboat. I crawled into my boat, covered up with a sail included in the boat, and went to sleep. About 4:00 p.m., a U.S. fighter plane buzzed the boat and woke me up, and a sea plane landed and picked me up. This was my own squadron coming back to find us. I saw my crewmen in another sea plane and that was the first glimpse I had of them and now I really knew that they were alive. We had been in the water about 22 hours.

Admiral Mitscher wanted to get my eyewitness report so they sent a destroyer over to take me back to my carrier. He immediately called me to report. When I told him what I had seen he thanked me and said, "I believe we sank 2 carriers." And I thanked him for caring enough about downed aviators to send rescue planes over 300 miles to get 5 people out of the water. Two crewmen from another torpedo plane and me and my crew were rescued. That night we lost about 42 men.

OS2U sea plane, typical of Naval Task Force ship launched patrol and rescue aircraft.
Photo ctsy. “Carrier War,” Oliver Jensen

Lieut. (j.g.) Warren McLellan parachuted from burning torpedo plane in middle of enemy task force, saw entire battle, was rescued after 14 hours in the water.

Photo ctsy. “Carrier War,” Oliver Jensen

There were approximately 80 people in the water. It was about 9:00 p.m. and they had to get aboard their carrier. They had been in the air about 5 hours. Admiral Mitscher had turned the search lights on in enemy territory to help planes get back to the carrier, it was so far and they were out of gas.

In the first battle of the Philippine sea,
a portion of the Japanese pauses in flight to
writhe and twist under American attack.
The carrier at above right is taking many hits.

Above photos ctsy. “Carrier War,” Oliver Jensen

God surely had allowed him make great decisions in that first battle of the Philippine Sea and it was a great success. That was the last fight the Japanese carriers had. Their squadrons were devastated and for the rest of the war, Japan used mostly the kamikaze pilots. The Lexington was hit by a kamikaze plane after Air Group 16 left for home.

We arrived home in late July, 1944. Wanda was in a group of welcoming friends when I got back to Fort Smith in August, 1944 and we married in November, 1944. This November 23rd will be our 56th anniversary. God is so good to us. It took a miracle to bring me back home and allow us to have a wonderful family. God does answer prayer. I now have a legacy.

Warren McLellan and Wanda Stewart wedding November 23, 1944.
Photo ctsy. Warren McLellan

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

Page —12345

Or This Story’s

Cover PageEditor’s IntroductionTable of Contents

Fred Gwynn’s “Torpedo 16 Chapter — 1234


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