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Old 10th August 2020, 20:57
DavidIsby DavidIsby is offline
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Alexander Wasilenko, USN, VP-25 PBM gunner

WWII Veterans History Project
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It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of Alexander Wasilenko, a decorated naval aviator who served in the Pacific Theater during WWII. He was 95.
Wasilenko served as an aerial gunner aboard a Martin PBM Mariner aircraft attached to Patrol Squadron 25 (VP-25). After being drafted into the service in 1943, he underwent six weeks of training at Sampson Naval Training Station in New York before flying to Hawaii in September of 1944 to undergo operational training. Two months later, his squadron was ready for combat and departed Hawaii for Leyte, the Philippines, on November 15, 1944.
Shortly after arriving in the Philippines, they began their first patrols against the enemy. In the Pacific, PBM Mariners were used for forward patrol and rescue operations and were also used as bombers. During these missions, Alexander Wasilenko manned a 50-caliber machine gun in a turret on the tail of the aircraft. Because the PBM was well suited for ocean rescue missions, he and his crew played a vital role in recovering several downed pilots and crews in heroic open-sea landings. They also had the important job of searching for Japanese submarines, which threatened the American naval fleet.
The planes in Wasilenko’s unit were painted entirely black, earning them the nickname “The Black Cats”. Because the aircraft were used in nighttime attacks and reconnaissance missions, black paint was beneficial to avoid being spotted by the Japanese. Some of the most harrowing experiences that Wasilenko endured throughout the war occurred during these night missions, and he remembers those frightful nights quite vividly.
On some occasions, Japanese aircraft even tried to follow his plane back to base and relay the coordinates to Japanese headquarters. During his time in the Pacific Theater, he witnessed several kamikaze attacks, watching helplessly as the Japanese planes dove into American ships without hesitation. It was almost a daily routine to have the enemy strafe and bomb the harbor and cause widespread panic and destruction throughout their home base.
For his courageous actions and meritorious service during WWII, Alexander Wasilenko was awarded the prestigious Distinguished Flying Cross, as well as three Air Medals. We had the distinct privilege to interview this brave American hero in September 2019, capturing and preserving his incredible stories for future generations.
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Old 15th September 2020, 19:29
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Teresa Maria Teresa Maria is offline
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Re: Alexander Wasilenko, USN, VP-25 PBM gunner

May he rest in peace.
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