FEATURED BLOGGERS REPORT: Eye Witness Account – Edward Dager By Pacific Paratrooper #AceHistoryDesk reports

In December 1944, SSgt. Edward Dager, crew chief for P-38 and p-39 planes was riding in LST-738, a landing ship designed for tanks, near the island of Mindoro. LST-738 was one of a group of 30 LST’s landing at the island carrying tanks and vehicles.

“We Gave Our Best” by: Kayleen Reusser

From : “WE GAVE OUR BEST” by Kayleen Reusser

Suddenly, Dager’s LST was fired on by Japanese kamikazes. “They came in fast,” he said. Dager’s LST returned anti-aircraft fire, hitting several of the planes. When one kamikaze slammed into Dager’s vessel, the 130 crew members aboard were unable to control the fires. “The captain ordered us to abandon ship,” he said.

Ed Dager, SSgt, US Army Air Corps

Oil from the damaged ship spread on the water. Frantic seamen scrambled to swim away as more fires sprang up. Allied ships in the area worked together to fire on the kamikazes and rescue the LST-738’s crew.

Thankfully, no crew member died from the assault, though several were injured. Dager was burned on his face and right arm. he and the other wounded were taken by PT boat to a hospital, where they received morphine injections and other care-giving ministrations.

Everything happened so fast and was so chaotic that Dager’s whereabouts became unknown to military officials. The results were catastrophic. “My parents received a telegram stating I had been killed in action,” he said. The War Department soon discovered the error and tried to remedy the misinformation. “The next day they sent another telegram to my parents saying I was okay.”

Born in 1921, the youngest child in a family of ten, Dager grew up on a farm outside of Monroeville, Indiana. He quit school to find work, but in 1942, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. After completing basic training at Camp Perry, Ohio, Dager was assigned to airplane mechanic school with the Army Air Corps.

As part of the 80th Fighter Squadron, “The Headhunter”. 8th Fighter Group, 5th Air force, Dager sailed from San Francisco to Brisbane, Australia, then New Guinea where he was assigned to an Allied air base. “It was hard not to stare at the natives at New Guinea,” he said. The walked around with bones in their noses.”

SSgt, Dager was assigned as crew chief in charge of 8 P-39s and P-38s. The had four 50-caliber machine-guns and a 20 mm cannon.” he said. Dager took his job seriously. “A pilot from Boston told me I was the best crew chief because I kept the cockpits clean.” Dager was aided by an assistant.

As missions often required 5 and 6 hours of flight time, crews were awakened during the dark, early hours of the morning. “At 0200 hours someone blew a whistle to wake us up,” said Dager. “We always did a final check of each aircraft before it took off.”

Being on the flight line in the middle of the night with a bunch of sleepy crews would be hazardous. Dager witnessed one serviceman who drove his jeep into the wash of a plane’s propellers (current of air created by the action of a propeller), “That was a sad sight,” he said.

Ed Dager

While Dager was friendly with flight crews, but he kept an emotional distance. “We were there to fight a war. We learned not to get too attached to people.”

It was not easy. Many years after one pilot whom Dager had known was declared MIA, due to his plane’s crash, his daughter called Dager. “She asked for details about her father and his last flight.” Dager provided what little information he knew. “It was hard losing people.”

In summer 1945, he was helping to launch P-38s from Okinawa when President Truman ordered bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Those actions subsequently ended the war with the surrender of the Emperor in September. By November, Dager had enough points to be discharged.

He returned to Fort Wayne, IN where he farmed and worked at ITT, retiring in 1985. Dager married in 1946 and he and his wife, Mavis, were parents to 2 daughters. “I was in the war to do a job,” he said. “I was young and thought if I made it home, that was okay.”

Ed and Mavis Dager, R.I.P.

Sadly, the Purple Heart recipient, Sgt. Dager left us on 23 February 2018

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes –

Thomas Anderson – Rockton, IL; US Air Force (Ret. 23 y.), 11th Airborne Division

Jerry Cain – Painter, WY; US Army, Vietnam, 320 Artillery/101st Airborne Div., Purple Heart, Distinguish Service Medal

Michael Dippolito – Norristown, PA; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

Kenneth Ebi Jr. – Moline, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt., 7th Infantry Division Engineers

James Heldman – San Francisco, CA; US Army, Vietnam, Battalion Comdr., 2/4 FA/9th Infantry Division

Cyril Knight – Invercargill, NZ; 2NZEF J Force # 634897, WWII, Pvt.

Perry Owen – Houston, TX; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Carmine Picarello – Bayonne, NJ; US Army, MSgt. (Ret. 24 y.) / US Navy, Intelligence

Roy Scott Jr. – Columbus, OH; US Army, Vietnam & Desert Storm, 173rd Airborne Division, Bronze Star

Mary Zinn – London, ENG; Civilian, Red Cross

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Related

Intermission Stories (8)In “Korean War”

October 1943 (2)In “First-hand Accounts”

October 1944 (2)In “WWII”

Source: https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2018/12/17/eye-witness-account-edward-dager/GP Cox

Dec 17

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