A Related Lexington Story

Fred Gwynn's
"Torpedo 16"

Editor’s Introduction
Page 1 of 2

Recent US Navy pilot graduates, Ensigns Bill Linn and Fred Gwynn were the best of thinkers, the best talkers, the best drinkers, and the best of friends. Fred was even the best man at Bill’s wedding. The two participated in the formation of the USS Lexington’s Carrier Air Group 16 Torpedo Squadron at Quonset NAS, Quonset Point, Rhode Island in early 1943. This relationship continued through their advanced training, their trip through the Panama Canal and on into the Pacific war zone where they participated in a series of combat engagements with the Japanese in the South Pacific.

Fred Gwynn grew up in Melrose, Massachusetts, a small town north of Boston and was an English major at Bowdoin College, and received his doctorate from Harvard. After his military service, Fred became an English Professor at UC Berkeley, Yale, Penn State, then the U of VA in Charlottesville and finally, Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. By 1965, Fred had several of his literary works published including "The Fiction of J.D. Salinger,“ “The Case For Poetry,” and "Faulkner at the University." He was working on a comprehensive study of the English language when he suffered a heart attack just two weeks after his 49th birthday. Always talented musically as well as with language, it is no surprise that besides this history of Torpedo-16, he wrote songs for the crew, spear-headed (some of) the shipboard entertainment, and of course he and Bill saw that the beer & liquor supplies were maintained. Married in 1950 to Anne Shortlidge, Fred is survived by his son Landis, born in 1952, and his daughter Ellen, born in 1953.

Bill Linn was born and raised in New Kensington PA, a small town north of Pittsburgh. He too, was an English major, at Washington and Jefferson College, and after his Navy years, worked as a Staff Manager for Prudential Insurance. In 1951, with the Korean War heating up, the Navy came a calling once more. They formed an anti-submarine squadron, VS-651, (flying re-vamped Avengers) from western PA reservists. Bill was named Executive Officer overseeing 88 enlisted men. While flying a re-familiarization flight out of Akron NAS in an SNJ-Texan Trainer, Bill's engine died about a mile from the field. Avoiding a sprawling neighborhood, he veered his crippled plane into a thicket of trees and somehow managed to walk away with only some back injuries. Although not life threatening, his injuries did end his flying days.

For the next 28 years, Bill taught high-school English at South Park, in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. Bill, died of a heart attack on January 30, 1980, a few days after his beloved Steelers had won Super Bowl 14. Married in 1944 to Jennie Schriver, Bill is survived by his three daughters; Jenifer, born in 1945, Nancy, born in 1947, Kathi, born in 1953 and his two sons; Bill Jr., born in 1948 and Bob, born in 1958.

Bob Linn, recently submitted a presentation dedicated to his father and "his generation," that is currently a part of our “Related Contributed Stories” section of this web site. The title is “The Snooze Button.” If you wish to review this brief presentation before proceeding, click here and return to this page through use of your “back button.”

While doing extensive research on his father’s military history, Bob located 44 pages of a manuscript written by Fred and has made them available to us to become part of this collection of Lexington stories.

The manuscript takes the reviewer from the formation of the Torpedo Squadron in February 1943 to their first taste of battle at Tarawa in September 1943. We have included a selection of related photographs that Bob has provided, and we ask our web site visitors who may have direct or family connections with this history, to make available to us any photos they may find that will make this chronology more complete. If you have photos and/or related data, please e-mail us and we will give you contact and mailing instructions. All contributed information will be returned to owner after copy work is completed.

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Page 2 of this Introduction provides a brief history of events leading up to and surrounding this story. We suggest you take time to review this information as it will add meaning to the events covered in the unfolding story.

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