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Torpedo Squadron Four - A Cockpit View of World War II - Revised, Updated Edition, 2011

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Torpedo
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Air Group 4 - Casablanca to Tokyo

Dedicated to those who
served in VT-4, VB-4, VF-4,
VMF-124 and VMF-213

The Day O´Mary Died

By Hampton "Hamp" Creel, VT-4

On 23 January 1943, Lt (jg) George Washington O´Mary was killed in a freakish accident in which his own depth charges exploded after his TBF crashed on takeoff. Here´s Hampton Creel´s recollection of the incident.

O´Mary´s TBF Avenger was loaded with depth charges for a routine anti-sub patrol. His plane had been spotted about 3 times. All the other aircraft had already taken off. The word was passed for him to man his aircraft. When O'Mary came up on the flight deck, I met him. He told me he was sick. He had been down in the wardroom trying to eat something, but couldn't keep it down. I asked him, "Why don't you cancel out?" He said, "This is my job and I'm going on my mission." I helped him strap into the aircraft and said, "Good luck!'

Hampton Creel

Hampton Creel

Upon taking off he seemed to have lost his orientation and started angling toward the port side of the flight deck. Then he flew the plane right into the water. His two crewmen escaped from the plane after he crashed into the water. O'Mary was standing up in the cockpit unbuckling his harness. I waved to him and told him to come on. He waved back. At that time, it appeared he was not in a hurry to exit the aircraft. He was fumbling around and seemed disoriented. Then we were all surprised when the depth charges went off (they are normally preset to explode below 25 feet). I will never forget that! He was my friend! Pat Blanos was standing there watching. We both saw the explosion that ended O'Mary's life.

Lt(jg) George Washington O'Mary

Lt(jg) George O´Mary appears at the far left in this photo
taken January 21, 1942 on the deck of the USS Ranger.
Lt(jg) M. T. Knight appears on the far right. Lt(jg) Knight
was killed in an operational accident February 9, 1943.
 The others are Ens. R. W. Labyak, Lt. Homer H. Hutchison,
Lt(jg) Wendell S. Koozer, and Ens. George W. Bolt
(left to right).

A little story of my life of 30 years. I joined the Navy in November 1941, went aboard the USS Ranger in December 1941, and was in VT-4 until June 1944. I served on 5 carriers:

    Ranger, CV-4 - Atlantic
    Shamrock Bay, CVE-84 - Pacific
    Baricko CVE-115 Pacific
    Wasp CV-18 - Atlantic
    Roosevelt CV-42 - Atlantic

I retired in 1971.

Of all the ships & shore stations, nothing can compare with the Ranger and VT-4. It was like family; the only tear I shed was when I left the Squadron.

Some of the old gang might like to hear about VT-4 First Leading Chief "Boggie" Jones. He died in '67 in Pensacola and is buried at Barrancas National Cemetery next to "Doggie" Sumpter, who burned to death in his wheelchair at a nursing home in Pensacola. He was blind, they left him alone in the sunroom, he dropped a cigarette in his chair and burned up. What a way to go.


Air Group 4 - "Casablanca to Tokyo"
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