FROM OUR "UNTOLD STORIES" FILE - GRIEF
OVERCAME FIGHTER PILOT WHO THOUGHT HE'D
SHOT DOWN FELLOW AMERICAN BY MISTAKE
PUTS PLANE IN FATAL DIVE - DOESN'T BAIL OUT

From time-to-time we at MilitaryCorruption.com bring you a little known or sometimes untold story of past wars and conflicts where tragedies and screw-ups have taken place.

What you are about to read below is the account of an Associated Press war correspondent, Richard K. O'Malley. The date: March 10, 1945.

ABOARD ADMIRAL McCAIN'S FLAGSHIP OFF JAPAN -- (AP) -- One of those tragic but unavoidable mistakes of war was recalled today as pilots sat around the ready room "shooting the breeze."

The narrator, a tall, sandy-haired flyer, said he heard it over his radio as his squadron prowled over an area regularly infested with Japanese planes.

"Suddenly," he related, "I heard a pilot yell: I GOT A BOGEY! I GOT A BOGEY! He sure was excited and tickled.

"But a moment later I heard another voice, probably the squadron skipper, tune in. I heard him say: JOE, I HATE TO TELL YOU THIS, BUT THAT WAS NO BOGEY YOU SHOT DOWN, THAT WAS A CORSAIR - ONE OF OUR OWN GROUP."

The sandy-haired pilot shook his head.

"It was heart-breaking to hear the kid come back with, ARE YOU SURE I SHOT A CORSAIR? ARE YOU SURE? You could tell his voice was breaking. The skipper replied, "YES, JOE. I'M SURE.

"For a long time there was no conversation on the air. .

"Then we heard the kid again as he called the skipper: I GUESS I'M IN WORSE SHAPE THAN I THOUGHT, he said. MY PLANE IS HIT PRETTY BAD. GUESS I'LL USE MY PARACHUTE. But the kid never jumped. Joe went down with his plane. The men of his squadron saw him crash into the water."

The tall pilot lit a cigarette and sat quietly. Then he spoke again.

"It was a Corsair he hit all right. That was definite, but the man he shot down was able to nurse his bullet-riddled aircraft back to the carrier.

"I hope wherever Joe is now, he knows he didn't kill an American pilot."