BuNo. 03417, Lt. Stanley W. Vejtasa, VF-10, USS Enterprise (CV-6), October 1942
Paris, Montana native, Stanley Winfield Vejtasa after
graduation from the university in Montana enlisted
in the Navy where he undertook the pilot training.
He finished it at Pensacola base in June 1939 when
he was twenty-five years old. Consequently, he was
assigned to VS-5 flying Dauntless off USS Yorktown
aircraft carrier (CV-5). During the Battle of Coral
Sea, he scored the hit on Shōhō aircraft carrier.
In May 1942 he was transferred to VF-10 where he flew
Wildcat off USS Enterprise aircraft carrier until July
1943. During the Battle of Santa Cruz, he flew the
depicted Wildcat BuNo. 03417 and scored seven kills
at its controls - two D3A Val and five B5N Kate, plus
one probable kill of B5N Kate. After this mission he
had eight Japanese flags painted on the access
hatch under the windshield on the fuselage port side.
BuNo. 5149, VF-3, USS Yorktown (CV-5) & USS Hornet (CV-8), May/June 1942
In April 1942 this Wildcat was assigned to VF-3 unit
based at Kaneohe Bay airbase. The following month
it was assigned to Ens. G. F. Markham. After that
the unit was transferred on board of USS Yorktown
(CV-5). During the Battle of Midway Fox-10 was also
flown by Lt. A. J. Brassfield who during this engagement shot down four carrier borne D3A Val bombers
and damaged another two. Despite all the efforts
of the defenders USS Yorktown was damaged and
for that reason the surviving Yorktown pilots and
her Wildcats as well had to be transferred to USS
Hornet (CV-8) where, under the command of Lt. Cdr.
Thatch, they formed the provisional unit designated
VF-3-42-8. One of the pilots of this unit was John
Burton Bain who flew Wildcat portrayed hereby.
At that time Ens. Bain’s score stood at two confirmed
kills, A6M Zero fighter from the Battle of Coral Sea
and another Zero from the Battle of Midway, shot
down during the preceding raid on Shōkaku. Therefore, there are two Japanese flags painted under
his windshield as a symbol of his success in combat.
The national markings in the form of blue circles with
white star and red circle in the center were painted
on both sides of the fuselage and in four positions
on the wings. They were supplemented by red and
white stripes on the rudder. During the Battle
of Midway these stripes were painted over with the
camouflage paint and the red circles were deleted
from the national insignia. The kill marks were added
only at the time Ens. Bain was flying this aircraft.
Ens. Thomas W. Rhodes, VF-6, USS Enterprise (CV-6), beginning of August 1942
Texan Thomas Walker Rhodes enlisted in the Navy on
January 7, 1937 and served as a radio operator at VT-2
until January 1941 when he commenced his pilot training. After its completion first he flew with VF-2 and
in March 1942 he was ordered to VF-6 where he stayed
until September 1942. During this deployment he took
part in the air battles defending the units that had landed at Guadalcanal. On August 7, during the dogfight
with Zeros, his Wildcat was damaged by the gunfire
of his opponent, but regardless Rhodes scored one
A6M Zero kill. On August 24 he added a carrier borne
bomber B5N Kate to his score. He continued with his
career with Navy, ultimately, he scored five kills and
on February 1, 1965 retired. He passed away on August
15, 2016, at the remarkable age of 99 years.