A Story from World War II


Quoted from ARGunners Magazine, December 20, 2918

by Guest Author: Harold Gerwien

Here is a sad video of Loyce Deen being buried at sea during World War 2 on Nov. 5, 1944. He was a Gunner on a Grumman TBF Avenger but after attacking Japanese vessels during the Battle of Manila Bay, he received a direct hit from Anti-Aircraft fire. As the body was too badly mangled and the aircraft badly damaged, he was buried with the aircraft at sea with military honor and still is the sole soldier to date who was buried at sea with the aircraft. Also ordered was that they didn’t remove the guns from the aircraft, which was normally the procedure!

In the video: Grumman TBF avenger torpedo bomber of VT-15 Torpedo Air Group, approaches and lands on the deck of the USS Essex (CV-9) during the Battle of Manila Bay, in World War 2.

Upon landing, Lt. Robert Cosgrove (Pilot) and Sailor Digby Denzek (Radioman) can be seen in their respective forward and middle crew positions. But the rear gunner position, occupied by Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class,Loyce Edward Deen (Gunner), who has only 23 years old, has been completely destroyed by enemy 40mm shell fire.

As the aircraft is parked amongst others, with wings folded, sailors of the Essex take fingerprints and cut dog tags from the body of AMM2C Loyce Deen in the gunner position.

A Chaplain conducts services from beside the aircraft.

AR Gunner Magazine, December 30, 2018

Captain Carlos W. Wieber, Commanding Officer of the Essex, and her crew, participate in funeral services on the deck. A chaplain conducts the services from beside the aircraft, where Loyce Deen’s remains in the gunner’s position have been shrouded. Closeup of Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman during the burial service. A bugler sounds taps. Beside the bugler is David L. McDonald, who was XO of the USS Essex (and later Chief of Naval Operations in the 1960s).

Deen’s remains are then buried at sea in the TBF Avenger in which he perished. The aircraft floats off the fantail for a short time before sinking from view. Two TBF Avengers are seen flying overhead , in tribute. Crew members then disband and return to their duties.

Music: The Brigham Young University Choir: Goin’ Home (Men’s Chorus) – Dvorak; arr. Rosalind Hall. More of BYU: https://singers.byu.edu/cds-and-dvds/cd-the-road-home/

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