Aviation Artist and Historian, John Mollison, hosts this entertaining and informational video series of interviews with combat aviators. This is Part 4 of 7 of Old Guys & Their Airplanes which features Claude Hone, World War II Marine fighter pilot who flew the Chase Vought F4U-1 Corsair “696” in the Pacific Theatre.
John: The story that you tell me of you being in Guam when the Japanese soldier climbed up inside that Corsair; can you tell that?
Claude: Yeah, I sure can. Uh, Guam wasn't secure and, and, uh, the airfield is on a peninsula above the cliffs, above cliffs. And, uh, the Americans had, had, there were dead bodies laying around, their tanks blown up; and, uh, but, we pitched tents there right next door to our airplanes. And, uh, at night the Japanese were living in the caves down below, which we didn't know; and, they would sneak up and try to get some food or anything.
See more at oldguysandtheirairplanes.com
Claude: One morning, and, there's no lights here, remember, there's no lights, completely dark, says, you go out and get your engines warmed up and get ready to take off. And so, there are about 16 of us in a line. And, uh, about, uh, the second plane down from me, all of a sudden, there was an explosion. And so, we, we just kept our planes goin' and so, somebody went over to see what it's about. And then, it started to get light. And then, **** said, okay, you can shut your planes down. I went over there and this explosion blew the bottom off underneath the cockpit and it looked like, uh, red hydraulic fluid dripping down. Well, come to find out, a Japanese had crawled into that plane in the cockpit in black of night and crawled underneath the seat. However he got there, must've been a small guy, he crawled underneath the seat of the plane with two hand grenades. And, I suppose he was gonna wait 'til the plane took off, but he couldn't wait any longer; and so, he laid one hand grenade between the legs of the pilot, put the other hand grenade to his stomach. And, they both blew off ****. Well, the stick for the pilot is on a big long rod about as big as your wrist and that took the whole thing and the pilot got a bit of shrapnel, never got ****. And then, this dead, this Japanese, he was laying underneath there and, uh, so, they, they were afraid he'd been booby trapped with another grenade; so, they were real careful getting him outa there, put a rope around him and they got everybody back and they finally pulled him out and got him down and there he was.
John: You think back, now think about it as a 93 year-old man and you think about that Japanese guy, do you think that he was a hero or was it a waste of a life? What, how do you process him?
Claude: Both, both. I, I think, man, he was tryin' to do something for his country, you know, as, as a hero. And still, and, didn't do any damage to anybody, anything, so –So, there were lots of things like that. You'd see people get killed and –