Patrick D Fleming was an "Army brat" and an Annapolis graduate, the only ace from the class of 1941. He did a surface tour in cruisers, then applied for flight training. He won his wings in 1943 and was promptly assigned to be an instructor. He joined VF-80 in March, 1944.
His brief fighter career demonstrated the dominance of the U.S. Navy's carriers and Hellcats in the later stages of the Pacific War. Fleming engaged only 19 targets during 6 combat missions between Nov. 5, 1944 and Feb. 17, 1945; he shot down all 19. His first kill was a Zero, over Manila, his only single victory.
Fleming's carrier, Ticonderoga (CV-14), gave aerial support to the Mindoro landings in the Philippines in mid-December 1944. At dawn on Dec. 14, the Hellcats started things with a series of fighter sweeps. "Vorse's Vipers" shot down 19 of them, four by Fleming. On Jan. 3, 1945, Fleming found and shot down 3.
As the kamikaze threat grew, the records show that Fleming scored ten with VF-80 and nine more with VBF-80.
Fleming led nine VBF-80 Grummans on a Feb. 16 fighter-bomber attack on the Mobara airfield; they successfully bombed three of its five hangars. He spotted three Zeros high above and zoomed up to engage them. Approaching from behind, he burned two immediately, then chased and exploded another pair. He also hit another from behind (for a confirmed or probable kill, depending on the source). Fleming's Navy Cross citation for the mission credited him with five kills. The next day, Feb. 17, he closed his score with four more victories over Japan.
After the war, he served at the Navy's famous Pax River test center. In January, 1947, General Curtis LeMay invited him to transfer to the new USAF Strategic Air Command as a Lt. Col. He died in 1956 when he bailed out of a B-52, but his chute caught fire.
We honor you, Patrick Fleming.
#rememberingtheone #honorvet365 #veteran #honor365 #WWII #navy #navycross #distinguishedservicemedal #silverstar #distinguishedflyingcross #navyace ...