From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Ernest Cody '38

Date of birth: September 22, 1914

Date of death: August 16, 1942

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1938 Lucky Bag:


From SF Museum:

One of the most enduring mysteries of World War II, and one still not solved, was the disappearance of the crew of the blimp L-8 of the Navy Airship Squadron, which lifted off from Treasure Island at 6:03 a.m., August 16, 1942, to patrol near the Farallones.

At 11:15 a.m., bathers near the Olympic Club golf course saw the ship drift to shore then briefly touch down on the Ocean Beach near Ft. Funston, where a depth charge aboard the ship exploded on impact.

L-8 finally crashed on Bellvue Ave. in Daly City. The crew of the airship was not aboard and no trace of them was found.

From San Francisco Call-Bulletin on August 18, 1942:


The Navy has given up its land search for the two-man cew of the derelict blimp which crashed Sunday, its crew missing, in a Daly City street, it was announced today.

The sea hunt for the two officers—Lieutenant Ernest DeWitt Cody, 27, pilot and Ensign Charles Adams, 38, co-pilot—is continuing and they are not conceded to be dead.

A Twelfth Naval District spokesman said: "The land search is completed. The area from the spot where the blimp first touched ground and its final resting place has been thoroughly covered. The Navy is positive the men were not in the ship at any time during its derelict flight over land."

The men may be somewhere in the ocean, buoyed up by their "Mae West" lifebelts or possibly safe on a radio-silent surface craft, it was indicated.

If they left the airship at sea their lifejackets will hold them up "indefinitely," it was explained.

Meanwhile, Navy operations experts professed themselves mystified by the strange accident. While explaining that certain operational data was being held confidential, of necessity, a spokesman said: "Nothing the Navy knows now has given a satisfactory explanation of what happened."

James Riley Hill, young aviation machinist’s mate, third class, revealed he would have been a third passenger on the doomed ship but for a last-minute decision by his commander.

He has a memory marker in Arlington National Cemetery.


From naval aviation historian Richard Leonard via email on February 9, 2018:

  • Date of rank LTJG from 1 Jul 1941 USN Register, 6/2/1941
  • NAS Lakehurst attached for LTA flight training, 6/30/1941
  • NAS Lakehurst designated NA # 10431, 12/31/1941
  • Date of rank LT from 1 Jul 1942 USN Register, 6/15/1942
  • ZP-32 (Det) FASW-31 3 NAS Treasure Island KIFA BNR, 8/16/1942

Ernest was piloting L-8 and delivered "important equipment" to USS Hornet (CV 8) immediately before the Doolittle Raid in April 1942.

Class of 1938

Ernest is one of 71 members of the Class of 1938 on Virtual Memorial Hall.