VMF-122 Corsairs on Peleliu 1945.
The pictures shown are of my dad, then 1LT Donald R. Wilson, and his VMF-122 FG-1D Corsair. Dad was assigned to Marine Fighter Squadron VMF-121 and later VMF-122 stationed on Peleliu, in the Palau, Western Caroline Islands. In July of 1945, Dad was shot down and crash landed just off a reef in the ocean near Koror, Babelthuap in the Palau Islands. His airplane was hit by enemy ground fire from Japanese anti aircraft positions on Babelthuap. He was too low to parachute to safety and was afraid to crash land on the Japanese held island because the Japanese would execute all captured American pilots immediately. No captured aviators are known to have survived the Palau air campaign. He managed to glide his airplane with a dead engine and crash land in the ocean. His airplane sunk immediately and he was able to inflate and climb into his life raft. He was still very close to the shore where the Japanese were then shooting at him, so he tried to paddle his way further out to sea. An American Navy PBY sea plane tried to land in the water and rescue him but the PBY could not land in the rough sea conditions and was chased away by enemy ground fire. Giant sharks began to swim around Don Wilson while he paddled out to sea in his little raft. Don put a dye marker in to the water which would help make him more visible to rescuers in the air. The dye marker seemed to help chase away the sharks because they would swim up to his little raft but then turn away when they got into the dye marker. He was rescued by an American LST landing craft after about four hours in the water and returned safely to his base on the island of Peleliu.