F6F Hellcat
Air Groups
Memories and Memorials - USS Ticonderoga

TBM Avenger

"Though my life may end over the Pacific Ocean, my thoughts turn
to the many springs gone by and those yet to come"

"We've got a grand ship, a "hot" air group and we're going to make a lot of Japs unhappy." - Captain William Sinton


 Capt. Donald W. Monson, Don was born on November 4, 1919 in West Prairie, WI. to Martin and Ana Monson. Don passed away with his family by his side on February 19th, 2015 in Fullerton, CA. Don served 32 years in the Navy and participated in both WWII and Vietnam. He was a carrier pilot with 718 carrier landings and flew the SB2C Dive Bomber (The Beast) in the South Pacific campaign. His first combat mission was aboard the USS Ticonderoga with VB-80 over the Philippines. Don was the recipient of Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, the Air Medal and several WWII campaign ribbons and a Vietnam Campaign ribbon. Don served as the commanding officer of VS-23, a squadron of S2F Anti-Submarine aircraft, based out of Los Alamitos Naval Air Station in 1959 and was the Executive Officer of the USS Bennington based out of Long Beach in 1964. Don was given command of the USS Maury AGS-16 based out of Pearl Harbor in 1967 and performed it's duties off the coast of Vietnam.




Lt. CMDR. George J. Walsh., George J. Walsh, a member of CAG-80 on the Ticonderoga, survived four crash landings and two kamikaze attacks on ships he was aboard - including one that struck 20 feet from the pilots' ready room. Now 96, he writes and speaks about the role of dive bombers at the 1942 Battle of Midway, a pivotal American victory in the Pacific, arguing that both historians and Hollywood have underplayed their significance. In 2015, CMDR. Walsh wrote a book on the subject: The 1942 Battle of Midway: Searching For The Truth, the turning point of the Pacific war against Japan. It was seeded at a 1989 reunion of the author's WW II dive bombing squadron. It begins with an idle curiosity and ends with an appeal. It is a story that has fascinated me as it evolved from necessary wartime secrecy to unnecessary secrecy today 74 years later.
      In 2017, at 96 years young, the Cmdr. gave an interview for a Veterans Organization. Topics discussed included dive-bombing tactics, Midway, Captain Dixie Kiefer, and his experiences during the 21 January Kamikaze attack when he was trapped in the 'ready room'. You can watch the interview right here by clicking the video on the right.


Click here to view Cmdr. Walsh's blog site




Robert Forbes Perkins ,Framingham, MA.
Robert Forbes Perkins; Lieutenant, USN
~~~ VF-80, CAG-80
R Forbes Perkins died at Beverly Hospital, Massachusetts in January at the age of eighty. He was born in Framingham, MA, and attended the Fay School, Milton Academy and Harvard University, receiving his MBA from Rutgers University. In June 1940 Forbes entered the US Naval Reserve, and on 7 December 1941 was serving as a Lieutenant aboard USS Pennsylvania at Pearl Harbor. Writing about the attack, Forbes recalled that during the assault he had rushed back to his ship from shore leave, proceeding to his battle station at the port anti-aircraft gun. `I still had on my seersucker suit and thought it would improve the situation if I also had my Colt 45 and an officer's cap.' Running out of ammunition on deck, he commandeer the captain's gig with five sailors to get more shells from the depot. `We were all armed to the teeth -- I had drawn a Browning automatic rifle and looked like Pancho Villa in a seersucker suit.' Navigating across the harbour through flaming water, debris, and explosions they got more shells. `As a matter of real worth of the trip, I guess it was more of a morale builder for us and for the AA crews than for any effective war effort.' He later became a naval aviator and joined Carrier Air Group 80 on board USS Ticonderoga piloting dive bombers. In 1944 he received the DFC for taking part in a successful attack on a Japanese cruiser in the Philippines. He was wounded in 1945 during a kamikaze attack off Formosa and later discharged with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

more may be added soon on Lieutenant Perkins's career as a naval aviator




Ensign Leslie Bennett Case, Leslie Bennett Case, known as Ben, recalls the first combat by Air Group Eighty aboard USS Ticonderoga (CV 14) on November 5,1944. Case was a dive-bomber pilot flying Curtiss SB2C-3 Helldivers in Bombing Squadron Eighty, or VB-80. Case was the shortest guy in the squadron, a New Orleans boy who tipped the scales at 140 pounds, sat on a telephone book to fly, and understood too well why some said the SB2C designation meant ?son of a bitch second class.?Ben Case pinned on his ensign?s bars and aviator wings on October 19, 1943, two days before his 20th birthday. Soon afterward he read a news story about the first Helldiver combat mission, a carrier launched strike on the Japanese fortress at Rabaul, New Britain, on November 11, 1943. At the time, Case was learning dive bombing in the hapless SB2A Buccaneer at the training base at Cocoa Beach, Florida.Case?s first target was a Japanese merchantman, the equivalent of a Liberty Ship, moored beneath black bursts of anti-aircraft fire and white puffs of cumulus. For reasons unclear, the Oscar fighters engaged only one Helldiver over Manila, exchanging fire with inconclusive results. In that first action, Case was credited with scoring a hit on the ship he bombed, which later sank

more may be added soon on this pilots memorable career




George F. Bonifant Jr., George F. Bonifant Jr., 86, died at his home in Bryantown, Maryland on March 20, 2004. He spent his entire career in the beverage alcohol field both as a Government regulator and an industry trade association official. In 1942 he took time out from the alcohol beverage business to join the U. S. Navy Air Force. After flight training in Pensacola, Florida he received his Navy wings and following additional training was assigned as a fighter pilot stationed aboard the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga as a member of Fighter Squadron 87. For his part in sinking the Japanese battleship Hyuga, he was awarded the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross. He also received several air medals for strikes against Japanese airfields and shipping installations.
    While in Pre-flight Training at the University of North Carolina he became the only non- professional member of the base all-pro baseball team. Members of that team included prominent players of the time such as Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Joe Coleman, Johnny Sain and many others. After the war he continued to play semi-pro baseball in Montgomery County, Washington, DC and Charles County. Beloved husband of Kathryn E. Bonifant and loving father of George F. Bonifant III, Edward E. Bonifant and Kathryn B. Hutson. He is also survived by a sister Elizabeth Ann Hyde of Olney, Maryland and a brother Dr. Alfred D. Bonifant of Ednor, Maryland, eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren.


more may be added soon on this pilots memorable career




Action Date: November 25, 1944    General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 361 (March 1947)
Lieutenant, Junior Grade Norman W. Spurgeon, United States Navy, Norman W. Spurgeon ,was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as a Pilot in Torpedo Squadron EIGHTY (VT-80), embarked on U.S.S. TICONDEROGA (CV-14), in the Philippine Islands area on 25 November 1944.

Action Date: January 2, 1945    General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 366 (August 1947)
Lieutenant, Junior Grade Norman W. Spurgeon, United States Navy, was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as a Pilot in Torpedo Squadron EIGHTY (VT-80), embarked on U.S.S. TICONDEROGA (CV-14) , over the coast of China, on 2 January 1945.


more may be added soon on this pilots memorable career




George Rauch Jr., George Washington Rauch, Jr., 92, died Thursday, November 10, 2011 on Nantucket Island, MA. He was a Naval Aviator from 1941-1945 and flew the F6F Hellcat in combat. A Lieutenant Commander when discharged, he was a plank owner of the USS Ticonderoga aircraft carrier. He also served aboard the USS John Hancock after the Ticonderoga was disabled by kamikaze pilots in January 1945. His unit, Carrier Air Group 80, was credited with 35 enemy ships sunk, and 243 enemy aircraft shot down or disabled. Known as the "Vipers", Carrier Air Group 80 was one of the most decorated squadrons in the Pacific Theater. He was born July 18, 1919 in Marion, IN to former Congressman George W. and Emma N. Rauch. He graduated from Indiana University in 1941, and from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1947. He was a 32nd degree Mason, a member of the University of Virginia Raven Society, Phi Delta Phi, and Delta Tau Delta. He practiced law with Batton, Harker & Rauch in Marion, IN, 1948-1957. George and his wife, Dorothy, spent 41 years together, many of them in Nantucket and Palm Beach. George was a squash, tennis and golf player. He loved raising six children and was known and enjoyed for his sharp wit, fun spirit, and entertaining sense of humor. He was a member of the Sankaty Head Golf Club and the Siasconset Casino. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Farlow Rauch of Nantucket, MA.


more may be added soon on this pilots memorable career




Frederick Ernest Charles Jenkins , of South Yarmouth, a sales consultant to the petroleum industry, died Oct. 2, 2004 of complications from pulmonary fibrosis at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis. He was 85. During World War II, Mr. Jenkins served as a flight instructor and a pilot on the USS Ticonderoga. He was a member of the Bombing-Fighting Squadron 87 and flew the F6F Hellcats over the South Pacific. He was honorably discharged in 1945 as a lieutenant. "He really liked flying, but gave it up when the war ended," said his wife of 60 years, V. Maxine (Gawer). Mr. Jenkins was born in Epsom, England, and grew up in Medford. He earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Tufts University, where his mother and father were employed for many years. After the war, Mr. Jenkins worked for the General Chemical Co. in East St. Louis, Ill., until the 1950s, when he began his career as a chemist with the Petrolite Corp. in St. Louis. The company sent him to set up subsidiaries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East from 1957 to 1965. After leaving Petrolite, Mr. Jenkins worked as an independent consultant for the last several years of his career. He moved to South Yarmouth in 2001 .




Norris V. Shifflett, Norris V. Shifflett, 77, of Elkton, died Thursday evening January 4, 2001, at Heritage Hall in Charlottesville. He had been ill since October. He was born February 27 1923, in Rockingham County and was the son of the late Robert Lee and Mamie Sellers Shifflett. He graduated from McGaheysville High School in 1947 and served in the US Navy Torpedo Squadron 80 during WWII flying off the USS Ticonderoga and the USS Hancock in the South China Sea. He was awarded the Naval Air Medal, which is the highest medal awarded enlisted personnel. He was a member of the Gooden Brothers VFW Post 9292 and St. Stephen and the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. Mr. Shifflett was an avid woodcarver and exhibited at local arts and craft shows and festivals. He donated many of his works to civic organizations for fund raising projects. He also served as former scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 46 and along with his wife, owned and operated the Corner Shop in Elkton over 20 years before retiring. On August 23, 1946, he married Lucille Morris Shifflett, who survives. Also surviving are a daughter, Donna Meadows and husband, Dallas of Elkton; two sons, David Shifflett and his wife, Susan of Poquoson; Gary Shifflett and wife, Rosetta of Elkton; a brother, Edward T. Shifflett of Baltimore; two sisters, Hazel S. Crider and husband, Stanley of Elkton; Ruby S. McKechnie and husband, Al of Waynesboro; four grandchildren Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, 1920 H. Medical Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22801 or to the Elkton Emergency Squad, PO Box 152, Elkton, VA 22827.

more may be added soon on this pilots memorable career




William Konvicka , William Konvicka, who served on the USS Ticonderoga Aircraft Carrier, passed away On June 6, 2002 at the age of 80
William Konvicka in the navy: The Eagle-Bulletin, 6/9/1944, William Nelson Konvicka, Jr., aviation machinist's mate 2/c, USN,...was presented the purple heart for wounds received in action in December 1943. The award was made by Comm. Dixie Kiefer, USN, commanding officer, naval air station, Quonset Point, R. I. Konvicka was wounded in a Jap bombing attack against Sterling island. He is on duty in the flight operations department of the naval air station, Quonset Point, R. I.





Robert W. Vail, Robert W. Vail, 78, of Tulsa, passed from this life on February 29, 2012 at his home with his family by his side.Robert was born January 9, 1924 to Kenneth Eugene and Mary Emma Gardner Vail. He was a descendant of and named for Civil War General Winfield Scott. He grew up in Montdale Pennsylvania. Being an ROTC student he was going to graduate a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army - which was not what he wanted to do - he left before graduation and joined the U.S. Navy Air Force to become a Navy fighter pilot. His first training assignment was East Central U. Ada, Oklahoma - for pre-flight training where he fell in love with a girl and the State of Oklahoma. Graduation at Pensacola Naval Air Station came January 24, 1944, only 15 days after becoming 20 years old. Bob was the youngest, to this time, ever to graduate at Pensacola Naval Academy.
     Ensign Vail returned to Oklahoma and married Sue, his first love. He was assigned to newly organized fighter squadron 87 (again the youngest in the squadron). VF-87 was stationed first on Aircraft Carrier Randolph - and took it on its shake-down cruise - after 2 months the squadron was transferred to USS Ticonderoga where they were based, flying F6F Hellcats in the Pacific theater, till the end of the war.
    Bob tells of many interesting experiences - One of his favorites - One morning the squadron was in the "ready room" getting briefings for the days strike (which was to be the longest flying time of any previous strike). The planes were ready, as were the pilots, when an announcement came over the P.A. system that "All flights had been cancelled for the day". No reasons given - that evening they learned their flight was scheduled in a direct cross path of the first bomber to drop the first atomic bomb - which it did on Hiroshima that day. They flew close cover for the Army and Marines landing on Okinawa. Fighter Squadron 87 and Lt. Junior Grade Vail were bombing Tokyo when Japan surrendered - they were the last bombs dropped on Japan. The USS Ticonderoga and VF-87 were honored to be present in Tokyo Bay as a member of the occupation force during the surrender of the Japanese to the Allied Forces. Bob is survived by his son Bobby, Bobby's wife Janice, daughter Marci, Marci's husband Ken. 5 grandchildren and 11 great grandkids


more may be added soon on this pilots memorable career




Clif Francom, Charles C. Francom, born April 5, 1919, Payson, UT. He enlisted from college at the Oakland, CA, "E" base, soloed and was sent to Corpus Christi, TX. He became an aviation cadet on Dec. 1, 1941, and graduated as an ensign in May 1942 and immediately was assigned to VS-44 in Curacao, NWI. In November 1944, he was assigned to VT-80 and was a plank owner on the USS Ticonderoga CV-14.
     In August 1945 he was transferred to serve as the staff pilot to the commander Naval Air Bases in the Philippine Islands. WWII ended the day he graduated from the Advanced Instrument Flight Instructors School in At-lanta, GA. Entered the Organized Naval Reserve Air pro-gram at Los Alamitos, CA, and served as commanding officer of two squadrons. He volunteered for Korean service and was recalled in November 1952 where he was assigned to the Naval Intelligence School (air), Anacostia. Following graduation he was assigned as assistant district intelligence officer (air), Jacksonville Naval Air Station, FL. Was released from active duty in 1953. He re-entered the Naval Reserve program at Los Alamitos Naval Air Station being promoted to lieutenant com-mander and commander. He retired with 24 years service in 1966.
     As a civilian again, he worked for the Rand Corp. in Santa Monica for six years, eventually going back into the school business where he retired as the assistant superintendent of schools in Orange County, CA. Presently lives near and plays regular golf at the old Los Alamitos Naval Air Station golf course. The only claim to "fame" he will make is that he has two scenes in the picture "Fighting Lady," and that he still regularly corresponds and sees his life long friends from the Ticonderoga. He leaves his love and gratitude to his shipmates, many who gave much more than asked.


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THE AIRMAN'S CREED

I am an American Airman
I am a Warrior
I have answered my Nation's call

I am an American Airman
My mission is to Fly, Fight and Win
I am faithful to a Proud Heritage,
A Tradition of Honor,
And a Legacy of Valor.

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I will never leave an Airman behind,
I will never falter, And I will not fail.

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