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Fighting Squadron Six - 7 December 1941

(Note: Unfortunately, I do not have VF-6 action reports for 7 December 1941. Unlike other documents in the "Action Reports and Logs" section of this site, the following is not a transcription of a historical document, though it is intended to be factually correct.)

Launched by Enterprise shortly before 1700 7 December 1941, six Fighting Six Wildcats escorted a strike consisting of 18 Torpedo Six TBDs, and six VB-6 Dauntlesses fitted with smoke generators to mask the TBDs as they approached their targets. Unable to locate an enemy carrier reported to be 100 miles southeast of Enterprise's Task Force 8, the strike returned to the Big E after nightfall. While the VF-6 Wildcats under LT(jg) Francis "Fritz" Hebel were directed to land on Oahu, the remaining planes were allowed to return to Enterprise.

VF-6 approached the Army's Hickam Field, near Pearl Harbor, at about 2110. Though word of the planes' expected arrival had been repeatedly broadcast to all ships and batteries in the area, their appearance triggered a panic, and within seconds the night sky was bright with tracers. ENS Herbert Menges immediately fell victim to the storm of anti-aircraft fire: the first US naval fighter pilot to die in the Pacific War. LT(jg) Hebel suffered a severe skull fracture ditching his shot-up F4F near Wheeler Field, while LT(jg) Eric Allen bailed out at low altitude over Pearl Harbor, receiving a bullet wound and internal injuries before landing in oily water near the minesweeper Vireo (AM-52). Both men succumbed to their injuries on 8 December.

ENS James Daniels was the only one of the six airmen to land on an airfield proper (Ford Island Naval Air Station). ENS Gayle Hermann set down on a small golf course on Ford Island, while ENS David Flynn's F4F apparently ran out of fuel, forcing him to parachute into a cane field near Barbers Point.

With a loss of three pilots and four aircraft, 7 December 1941 saw VF-6's worst casualties through June 1942.

6-F-1LT(jg) Francis F. Hebel**
6-F-15ENS Herbert H. Menges*
6-F-5ENS James G. Daniels III
6-F-12LT(jg) Eric Allen Jr.**
3-F-15ENS Gayle L. Hermann
6-F-4ENS David R. Flynn

* - Killed/Missing in Action, December 7, 1941
** - Died of Injuries Received December 7, 1941

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