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Old 7th September 2017, 04:10
R Leonard R Leonard is offline
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 97
R Leonard is an unknown quantity at this point
Re: Rear Admiral Eddie R. Sanders info

I can fill in a few blanks for you . . .

For Eddie Sanders, from his Golden Eagles Biography:

Following graduation in 1930, he had elimination flight training at the Naval Air Station, San Diego, California, and in August of that year joined the USS California. Detached from that battleship in April 1931, he was ordered to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, for flight training. Designated Naval Aviator on March 17, 1932, he remained at the Pensacola Air Station until May of that year, when he joined Observation Squadron ONE-B, attached to the USS Texas. In June 1934 he transferred to Fighting Squadron THREE-B, based on the USS Langley and continued in that duty for a year.

“Between June 1935 and June 1937 he was an Instructor in primary land planes for the first nine months, and fighters thereafter, at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola. He next had duty with Patrol Squadron NINE-F, aboard the USS Wright, and from June 1933 to April 1940 continued service in the Wright with Patrol Squadron SEVEN (redesignated Patrol Squadron ELEVEN on July 1, 1939). Returning to the United States, he was assigned to the Flight Test Section at the Naval Air Station, Anacostia, D. C., until January 1943, and following a month’s duty with Fleet Air, West Coast, reported for fitting out duty with Bombing Squadron ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SEVEN. When that squadron was put into commission, he assumed command. For outstanding services in that capacity he was awarded the Air Medal, the Gold Star in lieu of the Second Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross. The citations follow in part:

“Air Medal - 'For meritorious achievement...during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of Tarawa and other islands in the Gilbert and Marshall Groups from July 1, 1943 to January 15, 1944 ... Commander Sanders carried out search and photographic missions and anti-shipping and mining strikes against the Japanese and inflicted damage on the enemy, thereby contributing materially to the success of his squadron...’

“Gold Star in lieu of the Second Distinguished Flying Cross - For heroism and extraordinary Squadron Commander, Bombing Squadron ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SEVEN during operations against the Gilbert and Marshall Islands on December 18, 1943. Flying unescorted to the extreme range of his craft on a hazardous daylight mission, Commander Sanders went in low over the target and most heavily defended of the Japanese bases in the Marshalls to conduct a thorough reconnaissance of Kwajalein Atoll. As a result of valuable information obtained...., our forces were able to launch a successful night attack on enemy shipping in the area...’

“Distinguished Flying Cross - ‘For...extraordinary achievement...during operations against the Gilbert and Marshall Islands on December 23) 1943. Courageously commanding his squadron in a fierce attack on Nauru at dusk he flew in low through intense gunfire and vigorously bombed his target. Although a severely damaged plane of his force collided with his own during the engagement, he skillfully maneuvered his stricken craft and led the squadron back to base, making a successful landing...’

“Detached from command of that squadron in January 1944, he again had brief duty at Fleet Air, West Coast, before reporting, in February for duty in the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, Washington, D. C. He remained there until June 1945, when he transferred to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department. In September 1945, he reported as Executive Officer aboard the USS Hancock and in April of the next year joined the staff of Commander Battleships-Cruisers, U. S. Atlantic Fleet.

“In January 1947, he became Chief of Staff on the staff of Commander Fleet Air Wing FIVE, based at Norfolk, Virginia, and in July 1948 was assigned to the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. He continued duty there until June 1951, assuming command, the next month of the USS Cape Esperance. Detached from that carrier escort, he reported in July 1952 as Commanding Officer of the Naval Air Station, Grosse Ile, Michigan. He remained in that command until August 1953, after which he had duty in the Air Warfare Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department. In November 1954, he was ordered to command the USS Hancock.

“In addition to the Distinguished Flying Cross with Gold Star and the Air Medal, Captain Sanders has the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; the American Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three engagement stars; the World War II Victory Medal; and the Navy Occupation Service Medal, Asia Clasp.”

As far as the Atukan/Koga A6M2 is concerned there are some blanks which can be filled-in there as well. My father, who flew that same airplane on several occasions and in his retirement had occasion to exchange missives on the subject with various inquiring authors, fellow naval aviators, and other personages. Pulling together various rough drafts . . .

"There was a time when I considered that Zero ‘my airplane’ with only John Crommelin (on occasion, when he wanted to use it) to say nay. After that Zero's untimely demise, I was able to corral a few surviving pieces, such as:

  • Left wing tip, the folding part complete with locking device, wiring, port running light
  • Manifold pressure gauge - units in centimeters, q at sea level pressure, low reading -40, hi reading +25
  • Airspeed gauge - units in knots. Non linear scale is stretched in the low speed range - excellent for landing approach
  • Few pictures of the beauty in Hangar 40, North Island.

"I first saw this Zero as a pile of salvage at NAS San Diego - in the balloon barn. The A & R did a beautiful job of restoration. At that time, I was freshly back from Midway as a VF-3/VF-42/CV-5 survivor. I left for Pearl & SW Pac in Oct 1942 so couldn't follow developments as it was being rebuilt. By the time I returned from SW Pac in July 1943, the Zero had been long gone to the east coast. It went to Tactical Air Intelligence Center (TAIC) and was based at NAS Anacostia.

"From Aug 1943 to Nov 1944 I was the fighter training officer on the staff of ComFAirWest and assistant to Jim Flatley through most of that time until he went to work for Marc Mitscher in TF-58. He was relieved by John Crommelin. While working for Flatley I learned that the Zero still at Anacostia was flyable but in a state of disuse. We got some pressure and got the machine ferried out to Hangar 40 North Island, our office and general hangout. The Zero was in dire need of attention and care and got it. All this took time and I'm not sure the plane could be flown before Jim went back out to the Fast Carriers.

“The concept was that the plane was to be based with and operated by the Fleet Air Commander’s training section. It was scheduled in flight operations with and against our squadrons that were being readied for combat. The idea was to give our folks a glimpse of the real thing – a preview of coming attractions, so to speak. As the fighter training officer, I oversaw this scheduling and was one of the very few pilots authorized to fly the Zero in this employment. We encountered a severe problem just before our first flights from North Island, in Sep. 1944. Someone had blabbed and Jimmy Flatley and I found ourselves invited to an audience with ComFAirWest, RAdm William K. Harrill. Seems he was dealing with an Army Air Force type who claimed that flying a Zero around San Diego would wreck the integrity of the West Coast Air Defense. His solution: ban flights now and forever. As a fallback: permit flights, but only on prior notice as to times and location and always in formation with other Navy VF. For this contretemps W. K. Harrill was superb. On the advice of Jimmy Flatley, he directed Zero flights only in the immediate vicinity of North Island, and if not reported after a few flights, then loosen the tether. Upshot was that there were no reports and we ended flying this machine when – where – and as we wished.

"My log shows what must have been one of the earliest flights in our custody - 14 Sep 1944. Several hops later my log show 21 Oct with the comment: ‘Flight with J.G. Crommelin - he in FM-2 - pretty even.’ My last hop in this Zero was 25 Oct 44. On 4 Nov., because of the long reach of Jimmie Thach, I was flying to Ulithi to go to work for him on J.S. McCain's TF-38 staff. Sometime during my absence, the Zero received strike damage because when I returned to Coronado for a few weeks in Feb 1945 the wreckage of the Koga Zero was piled up in Hangar 40.

"As to the demise of the Zero 21, I believe most of my information comes from John Crommelin concerning its loss. Since his brother, Richard, was involved he had more than casual interest in the mishap. Dick, a friend, classmate from USNA, classmate Pensacola, roommate almost a year while we were in VF-42 in Yorktown, was headed West with his squadron, VF-88, and they were in San Diego for transportation. As C.O., but also with John seeing to little brother Dick's education, it was logical he should get a Zero hop. On taxiing out for this hop, Dick was overtaken by an airplane, SB2C-4, which has miserable vision ahead when in the 3-point attitude. The "Beast" just sawed its way through the Zero from tail to cockpit stopping just short of Dick. Truly, it as a tragedy for the machine, but a miracle for Dick. Pity we later lost him over Hokkaido on one of our last TF-38 strikes of the war."

The various parts mentioned above were eventually donated by my father to the Navy museum at Anacostia in the early 1980’s, where they now reside. He retained the original photos, which are now in my possession; just about any photo you see of the plane in Hangar 40 is a reproduction of those originals. According to my father’s log book, he flew this plane on 14 Sep 44 (0.6 hours), 18 Sep 44 (1.0 hours), 19 Sep 44 (1.0 hours), 14 Oct 44 (0.7 hours), 21 Oct 44 (0.8 hours), 25 Oct 44 (0.5 hours).


Last edited by R Leonard; 8th September 2017 at 05:16.
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