Killer of 20 Jap Planes Decorated
Captain Donald Aldrich (right), Marine Pilot who shot down a Tojo, newest Jap fighter plane, over Rabaul, Feb. 9, to become the fifth Marine flyer to kill 20 enemy planes, is congratulated by his Commanding Officer, Major James J. Neefus, of Belle Harbor, N.J. after he was awarded the Purple Heart Medal at a South Pacific Base. Captain Aldrich, 26, is from Chicago and flew with the RCAF before joining the Marines. (Top Photo Caption)
Rejected by US authorities before Pearl Harbor because he was married
Joined RCAF & earned Wings in November 1941
Joined Marines after US entered the War
Ace Scores His 20th In Raid On Rabaul
Guadalcanal, Feb. 12, 1944 - Captain Donald Aldrich of Chicago shot down 20th enemy plane during an attack on Rabaul, New Britain, Thursday.
With the victory, Capt. Aldrich became the fifth Marine to reach the mark in the South Pacific.
Top Marine Flying Unit Back From Pacific Front
Corps Got 135 Japanese Craft
High Man Has 20 Planes; S.C. Officer Commands Group
San Diego. Calif. — (AP) — The Fighting Corsairs — the U. S. Marine Corps' top aviation outfit — returned to the mainland today with 135 1-2 Japanese planes to their credit.
With 17 fliers who came back for a leave before reporting for new assignments were Capt. Don Aldrich, 26, Chicago, who has 20 planes, and Capt. Harold Spears, Newark, Ohio, a 15-plane ace.
The squadron lost two pilots on its first mission and shot down only 31 enemy craft in 12 weeks. But in its final six weeks of overseas duty it destroyed 104 1-2 Japanese aircraft.
The half plane? A flier attached to another unit provided assistance in destroying one enemy plane.
The leading ace of the fighting Corsairs, Lt. Robert Hanson, Newtonville, Mass. is missing in action, after having sent 25 Japanese planes to their doom. Details of Hanson's last mission were disclosed today by the squadron commander. Maj. Robert G. Owens, 27, Greenville, S.C.
"Bob was coming back from a flight covering bombers to Rabaul on February 3rd when he apparently decided to strafe a lighthouse at Cape St. George, at the southern tip of New Ireland," Owens said.
"He made a strafing run, and then his right wing was seen to hit the water twice. The plane pulled up and the wing either exploded or caught fire. After a moment when it seemed he would make a normal landing, the plane twisted and rolled over into the water and disappeared."
Only 13 pilots of the Fighting Corsairs were lost — eight through enemy action. Other pilots of the unit who had not completed the prescribed 18 weeks combat duty still are in the South Pacific.
The pilot said that although the squadrons' planes often received extensive damage most managed to return to their bases safely. An exception was a plane piloted by Lt. George Cross, Chicago, whose right wing blew up. He dove through a rain squall which put out the fire and flew 230 miles to his airdrome, where he bailed out.
Chicago - Marine Captain Donald N. Aldrich, Chicago's foremost Ace, arrived home on leave last night and was greeted by his pretty wife, Marjorie. Captain Aldrich, whose father was a commercial flyer, had almost 100 hours in the air by the time he was twelve years old. He shot down 20 Japanese planes in the Pacific in six months and is holder of the DSC. Captain and Mrs. Aldrich are shown together.
Victories Include :
--- Canadian Aces ---
On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources, newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC) as well as other sources both published and private