Stories From The Tamaracks:

'I Remember When...'


December 14, 2000
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

 

Photo of an early model Vought F4U-1 fighter of the type Bud Turner flew during his early days with marine fighter squadron VMF-222. Later models, which he also flew, had bubble-type canopies. Photo courtesy of Monte Turner, Bud's Nephew.

Bud Turner with a catch of fish while on leave at the Tamaracks during 1943. He had been flying combat operations in the South Pacific during World War II. He is wearing a VMF-222 Flight Jacket. Photo courtesy of Monte Turner, Bud's nephew.

Bud Turner and his mother, Maude, at the Tamaracks during 1943. Bud was on leave after flying combat missions with the marines in the South Pacific. His father, Henry (Heine) Turner, died at the Tamaracks January 23, 1941. Photo courtesy of Monte Turner, Bud's nephew.


Stories From Long Ago About The Tamaracks of Seeley Lake and Surrounding Area compiled by Jack Demmons. This is part 14.

In a previous edition of the Pathfinder mention was made that Henry and Maude Turner's oldest son, Henry Turner, became a Marine Corps fighter pilot during World War II, flying with Fighter Squadron VMF-222, "The Fighting Deuces." Early in his military career, he was listed on the Marine Corps rolls as Lieutenant Henry McCullough Turner, serial number 012728. Around Seeley Lake he had always been known as Bud.

After pilot training he was sent to the South Pacific where he became heavily engaged in fighter operations, which involved aerial combat, plus to climb faster than 100 feet per minute.

In December, 1944 Bud and his fighter squadron were on Green Island in the northern part of the Solomon Islands, approximately 1,000 miles northeast of Australia. At that time VMF-222 was a part of Marine Air Group-14, First Marine Air Wing. By mid-January, 1945 MAG-14 had flown to a dirt strip at Guiuan on southeastern Samar, an island in the Philippines, and was conducting fighter sweeps from there. Because of a lack of flight facilities, MAG-14 lost 19 aircraft from non-combat causes alone while at Guiuan. (One spectacular, tragic accident took place during the morning of January 24th when a Corsair piloted by Second Lieutenant Karl Oerth of VMF-222 - one of Bud's squadron mates - blew a tire on take-off, struck a large coral rock, caromed cartwheel-fashion through tents and other facilities, and smashed into an aircraft revetment area shared by VMF squadrons 212 and 222. Marine aviation personnel rushed to the blazing wreck, reaching it just as the plane exploded. The explosion killed 11 Marines, including Lieutenant Oerth, and injured more than 50 Marines.)

By April, 1945 Bud and his squadron were supporting U. S. Army landings on the island of Mindanao in the southern part of the Philippines, during what was known as "Operation Victor V." Planes of MAG-14 flew more than 5,800 hours during the month of April alone, an average of almost nine hours per day per plane and pilot - including Captain Bud Turner, who drowned one Japanese Zero during that time. The air group had provided convoy cover, fighter defense, fire bombing, dive bombing and strafing in support of ground troops.

By early May, 1945 the need for air support in the central Philippines had decreased and MAG-14, including VMF-222, was transferred to the 2d Marine Air Wing on the island of Okinawa in the Ryukyu's, almost 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo.

Bud and his squadron continued to fly combat operations. Then on August 6th an atomic bomb - the "Little Boy" - was dropped on Hiroshima and on August 9th a second one - the "Fat Man" - fell on Nagasaki. Japan signed the instrument of surrender in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd. Not long after, Bud would again go on leave and return to the Tamaracks and Seeley Lake. He had decided to stay in the Marine Air Corps, and did so until retiring years later as a Colonel.

In future editions of the Seeley Swan Pathfinder there will be more about Bud Turner, as well as his brother Pel's "flathatting" while flying in the Seeley Lake area after World War II.

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