Valor Friday

| November 22, 2019 | 11 Comments

Aviation Machinist Mate Rating Badge

“On November 5th, 1944, 23 year old Loyce Edward Deen, USNR Aviation Machinist Mate (Gunner) Second Class, was killed by anti-aircraft fire during the Battle of Manila Bay.”

He was buried at sea, still in his aircraft.

More on Loyce here: Loyce Deen.og

Thanks to Boomer via Poetrooper for the video. Hand Salute. Ready, Two!

Category: Guest Link, Navy

Comments (11)

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  1. 5th/77th FA says:

    Wow. Great story Poe, ‘Ed. Thanks! “…that such men lived.”

    Final ex wife’s Papa was a Hell Diver Driver. IIRC he was on the Essex, prolly got there right after this happened. He got there “right at Thanksgiving of ’44.” Much respect for that man…his daughter…not so much.

    Hand Salute…Ready…Two!

  2. Mason says:

    From the linked page;

    “In addition, orders also came down not to strip the plane for parts – which was quite an extraordinary tribute at the time since aircraft parts were scarce and in demand.”

    I was struck/surprised that they didn’t take anything off the plane before the burial at sea. Got a little dusty in here as his plane slipped below the waves.

    • Berliner says:

      I’m overcome by dust also. I went to youtube to learn more about the very moving background music:

      William Arms Fisher, a pupil of the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, wrote the lyrics to and adapted the music to the theme of Dvorak’s 2nd Movement to the New World Symphony. These are his words now sung by the BYU Choir.

      “Goin’ home, goin’ home, I’m a goin’ home;
      Quiet-like, some still day, I’m jes’ goin’ home.

      It’s not far, jes’ close by,
      Through an open door;
      Work all done, care laid by,
      Goin’ to fear no more.

      Mother’s there ‘spectin’ me,
      Father’s waitin’ too;
      Lots o’ folks gather’d there,
      All the friends I knew,
      All the friends I knew.
      Home, I’m goin’ home!”

    • UpNorth says:

      Indeed, it got dusty here watching the video.

  3. The Other Whitey says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but it always seemed to me that there’s something beautifully and tragically poetic about Loyce Deen’s aircraft carrying him to his final rest like that. Though shot up all to hell, that TBM still carried him back to his ship, and then served her final duty as his coffin. I dunno, there’s just something about a good airplane.

    God bless Loyce Deen and the millions of heroes of his generation.

  4. Combat Historian says:

    Exactly two years earlier, in Nov 1942 off Guadalcanal, this TBF Avenger would have been hurriedly repaired, if necessary with spit and bailing wire, to continue to go after the “Nips” as the epic battle for control of the ‘Canal reached its climax. It is a dramatic tribute to the mighty wartime industrial capacity and output of this country that only two years later, we could afford to bury this young man at sea encased in an airplane that was still repairable as a tribute to his sacrifice and bravery…

  5. Mustang Major says:

    I have occasionally seen this video though the years, and am appreciative to finally know the rest of the story.

    The background information and research was impressive. It told a story that is often overlooked for our war dead. It would be fantastic if this research could be done for all of our country’s finest that died in war.

  6. Mick says:

    Few things actually get to me, but as a career Marine Corps Aviator, this incident always chokes me up.

    While watching the linked film footage, take a close look at the top of the fuselage just aft of Deen’s gun turret. It looks like he took a 40mm AAA round right through the front of his turret, and in some of the footage/photos it appears that there was a second AAA hit to the starboard side of the fuselage just below Deen’s turret. Deen didn’t stand a chance with those hits, and if those rounds had detonated on impact, the entire aircraft would likely have been destroyed.

    From the Loyce Deen website linked above:

    ‘[…]

    The Final Fight

    Each day, reveille was sounded on the USS Essex’s intercom at 5:30 am. Breakfast was served in the mess hall at 6:30am. Throughout the night, the planes scheduled for the next day’s mission were being prepared. On the flight deck, the Hellcat fighters were in front so they can take off first and protect the group and the carrier. In the rear were the Avenger and Hell Diver bombers and torpedo planes. After breakfast, pilots attended briefings in the ‘Ready Room’ to get their final orders, weather conditions and the plane that was to be assigned to them. That day, Lt. Cosgrove received tail number #93 – an new plane just acquired in Ulithi Atol a few days ago. Lt. Cosgrove’s orders were to go after the Japanese cruisers in Manila Bay. After the briefing, Lt. Cosgrove joined his crew, Digby and Loyce, and they went topside to their plane. Loyce climbed into his gun turret for the final time. The VT-15 group took off mid morning and It would take about two hours to get to the Manila Bay and release the ordinance.

    There, they encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire from a Japanese cruiser and Loyce was killed from two AA shells. In the 2001 History Channel documentary film “Battle Group Halsey” interview, Capt. Cosgrove recalled, “Denzek told me over the intercom that Deen was hit bad.Then, Densek came back up thru the small passage way to sit in the cabin behind me. He stayed there until we landed.”

    During the attack, the plane and its controls were heavily damaged. Lt. Cosgrove had his hands full and used all his strength and skill to return another un-flyable plane. It was very sad, long and harrowing two hour flight back to the carrier that included two thunderstorms.

    Shortly after Loyce’s burial, the USS Essex went into “general quarters” status for the entire evening due to the Kamikaze attacks around them. On November 6th, 12th, 13th and 14th, Lt. Cosgrove courageously got back into a new plane and attacked those same cruisers in the Bay of Manila. On November 15th, Air Group 15 disengaged from combat missions and returned to Ulithi Atol to be replaced by Air Group 4 from the USS Bunker Hill.

    […].’

    Incredible bravery by the entire crew, and incredible airmanship by LT Cosgrove in getting Deen, Radioman Denzek, and that badly damaged aircraft back aboard the carrier.

    ‘Harrowing’ indeed.

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