Fighter Ace Besby Holmes dies

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P38 Pilot

Tech Sergeant
Jun 19, 2005
Auburn,Alabama; USA
WWII Fighter Pilot Ace Besby Holmes Dies

WWII Fighter Pilot Ace Besby Holmes Dies
Associated Press | July 29, 2006
GREENBRAE, Calif. - Lt. Col. Besby Frank Holmes, a World War II fighter pilot who took part in the successful 1943 mission to kill the Japanese admiral who planned the Pearl Harbor attack, has died. He was 88.

Holmes, who lived in San Rafael, died of a stroke July 23 at Marin General Hospital, according to the Marin County coroner's office.

Holmes was a member of the 67th Pursuit Squadron, which flew fighter planes against the Japanese during the Guadalcanal campaign. In October 1942, Holmes blew up a beached Japanese ammunition ship.

His most famous mission came after American cryptographers cracked a Japanese naval code in early 1943 and retrieved a message revealing the itinerary of Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack.

His was among the 16 fighter planes that ambushed Yamamoto.

"Granted, it was a wild gamble with many odds against success," Holmes said in the 1996 book "Aces Against Japan II." "But most of us were pretty good gamblers by then, having gambled our lives on the early days of the invasion of Guadalcanal."

Born in San Francisco on Dec. 5, 1917, his career included service in the U.S. Army Air Corps and the U.S. Air Force from 1941 to 1968. His assignments included Japan, Panama, New Zealand and South America.

Holmes served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and earned the Navy Cross, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Legion of Merit and the Air Medal.

More and more WWII veterans sadly leave us...

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