July 19, 1943 (Monday)

“Cactus,” Carney Field, Guadalcanal

Charlie was over last night. The AA was very poor, bursting at times 5 miles away from the well illuminated target.

Patrolled 600 miles. Was second to get off the field in the morning but halfway up Santa Isabel had to turn around and return due to transmitter failure. Took off again at 0915 and started out on my way sector #2. Investigated Tauu, Nuguria, & Kilinailau groups.

To settle an argument I took a good close look from 10 feet at the outer coral rim from the Tauu group and there is no doubt that a plane could very easily be landed there with possibly no more damage than a cut tire. It could also take off again, despite the moistness of the coral. This goes for the reefs of many of these island groups.

At Nuguria, where I started back, saw a Betty and two Zeros piled up on the reef. Condition of the planes showed they been there quite a while.

At Kilinailau, where the marooned Army pilots were picked up a few months ago with VB-101’s help, the natives wore red sarongs, instead of the usual green, and waved at us in a very friendly manner in contrast to Tauul, where they appeared rather sullen and unfriendly.

Ten miles north of the northern tip of Choiseul, with inside of the Buin-Tonolei area, I spotted a Betty headed confidently toward Kahili. As he hadn’t spotted me I got into position and made 180° turn along the axis of his course as he passed. Coming at me head-on, he saw me only after I started my turn to the left and revealed the telltale four engines in the steepness of my turn. He dove violently away from me and streaked for home. I got about 30 rounds into him before giving up the chase which within a minute or two would’ve had me under the Buin-Tonolei fighter cover. Ten miles further out and I’d have shot the bastard down, as I had him cold. He was so startled at my sudden appearance, he never fired a shot at me. Those Japs seem to be dope off at times.

Had a very tragic accident at the Slot today. B-25s on a sweep spotted PT boats and sweeping down flashed the challenge at them. The PT boats answered by opening fire on the B-25. The B-25 returned the fire setting the PT boat afire. As the Army pilots pulled away the blazing PT boat shot down the B-25, which crashed and killed all its crew. The PT boat soon sank and its survivors were picked up by an accompanying PT boat.

This is another example of the disgraceful record the PT boats (MTBs) are running up for themselves in this area. They act before they think. They sank the flagship, the McCauley  of the New Georgia invasion force. And now they shoot down a clearly marked U.S. plane, whose silhouette is like no enemy plane in this area. People who had contact with these PT boatmen say they’re a bunch of rah-rah college boys, mostly from Harvard and Yale.

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