MARION W. DUFILHO, LT, USN
Marion Dufilho '38
Date of birth: May 22, 1916
Date of death: August 25, 1942
From the 1938 Lucky Bag:
From Find A Grave:
The following information was extracted from a US Navy report from the Division of Naval Hisitory (OP-29).
"Lt. Dufilho was killed on 25 August 1942, having been attached to a fighting squadron, when the plane which he was piloting was lost in the Southwest Pacific. Lt. Dufilho was awarded the NAVY CROSS. The DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS was previously awarded."
Marion William Dufilho, born 22 May 1916 in Opelousas, La., graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis on 2 June 1938. On 24 August 1942, while serving as a section leader in Fighting Squadron 5 in Saratoga (CV-3), Lieutenant Dufilho was killed in action in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. He was posthumously awarded both the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism and achievement in this battle, which turned back a major effort of the Japanese to reinforce Guadalcanal and Tulagi.
From naval aviation historian Richard Leonard via email on February 9, 2018:
- NAS Pensacola attached for HTA flight training, 7/29/1940
- NAS Pensacola designated NA # 7153, 2/15/1941
- Date of rank LTJG from 1 Jul 1941 USN Register, 6/2/1941
- VF-3 USS Lexington (CV-2), 2/20/1942
- VF-2 USS Lexington (CV-2), 5/1/1942
- Date of rank LT from 1 Jul 1942 USN Register, 6/15/1942
- VF-5 USS Saratoga (CV-3) Navy Cross, 8/7/1942
- VF-5 USS Saratoga (CV-3) SS DFC PH KIA BNR, 8/24/1942
Marion was wingman to Edward "Butch" O'Hare '37 when he became the US Navy's first fighter ace on February 20, 1942; Marion himself shot down two bombers in that engagement.
On August 7, 1942 — the action for which he received the Navy Cross, below: From Combat Narrative, Battle of the Solomons:
During the second counterattack that afternoon, the Saratoga's fighters fared much better. At about 1500 Lieut. Richard Gray, leading, with Ens. M.K. Bright, Lieut. Hayden M. Jensen, Lt. (jg) C.B. Starkes, Lieut. Marion W. Dufilho, Lt., (jg) F.O. Breen, Lieut. David C. Richardson, and Ens. C.D. Davy sighted 11 enemy dive bombers, type Aichi 99, which were flying unescorted. No warning of this enemy attack had been received. Lieut. Jensen, the first to sight the enemy and to give the alarm by radio, attacked and followed the enemy down through the antiaircraft fire from the ships, destroying 2 of the raiders. Lieut. Dufilho followed him, and also nailed 2 of the enemy planes while damaging a third. Lt. (jg) Starkes and Ens. Bright each accounted for 3 more, or a total of 10 shot down. Another flight of from 7 to 12 enemy dive bombers, however, attacked our ships unobserved by our own fighters or radar. They were reported by one of our scout bombers as they approached from another direction. Two of these planes were destroyed during their retirement. None of the dive bombers of the group intercepted succeeded in getting a hit on their targets, according to Lt. Comdr. Simpler. The hits were made by the unopposed attack.
Marion is mentioned throughout "The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway" by John B. Lundstrom.
From a blog:
U. S. S. MISSISSIPPI
IN REPLY ADDRESS COMMANDING OFFICER AND REFER TO FILE NO.
BATTLESHIP DIVISION THREE U. S. BATTLE FORCE
12 MAY,1939 NEAR CALIF.
IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO WRITE ALL OF YOU A LITTLE LETTER TELLING ALL ABOUT THE PRESENT RECALL OF THE FLEET TO HOME WATERS. I KNOW THAT SOME OF YOU ARE ALL WORRIED ABOUT WAR IN GENERAL. FIRST OFF LET ME TELL YOU THAT WE ARE NO NEARER WAR THAN WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN. IN FACT I THINK THAT WE ARE FARTHER FROM THE OLD FIGHT NOW THAN WE HAVE BEEN FOR THE LAST TEN YEARS. GERMANY AND THE POWERS THAT BE ARE NOT READY TO FIGHT AND WILL TAKE A LOT OF COAXING BEFORE THEY DECIDE TO TAKE THE FINAL STEP WHICH TENDS FAIR TO WRECK ALL THAT THEY HAVE BUILT UP DURING THE PAST TWENTY YEARS THAT’S THAT.
THAT TELEGRAM THAT I SENT HOME MUST HAVE BEEN QUITE A PUZZLE TO ALL HANDS. IT’S REALLY EASY TO EXPLAIN. WHEN CANCELLATION OF ALL LEAVE FOR OFFICERS AND MEN WAS ANNOUNCED OVER THE RADIO FROM WASHINGTON I WAS NOT ABOARD THE BAND WAGON. IN FACT I WAS IN THE FAIR CITY OF BALTIMORE HAVING A LITTLE CHAT WITH OUR FRIEND LOU KRAUS, THE INSURANCE MAN WITH WHOM ALL OF YOU HAD SO MUCH FUN. KNOWING THAT THE SHIP WOULD SEND TELEGRAMS TO ALL THOSE OFF THE SHIP AND KNOWING THAT THOSE ON THE SHIP DIDN’T KNOW WHERE WAS THE LOGICAL THING TO FIGURE WAS THAT THEY WOULD SEND WORD HOME FOR ME. THEN FOR SURE NONE OF YOU WOULD HAVE KNOWN WHAT IT WAS ALL ABOUT. TO MAKE THINGS CLEAR I THOUGHT THAT I WOULD SEND A TELEGRAM. FUNNY BUT IT MADE THINGS WORSE THAN EVER. ANYWAY IT WAS A GOOD IDEA FOR THE SHIP HAD INTENDED TO WIRE ME BUT MY BOSS KNEW THAT I WASN’T HOME SO HE JUST HELD UP THE TELEGRAM LIKE A GOOD BOSS SHOULD. THAT’S THAT.
IT IS NOW ONE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING AND WE ARE RAPIDLY APPROACHING THE FAIR CITY OF LONG BEACH. FAINT LIGHT ON THE FAR HORIZON INDICATE THAT WE ARE VERY NEAR THE SHORE. YOU MAY BE SURE THAT EVERYONE IS LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING OFF THIS IRON TUB AND WRAPPING HIMSELF AROUND A BIG COLD DRINK OR SOMETHING ELSE. SINCE WE LEFT THE CITY OF NORFOLK – NO REAL LAND HAS BEEN UNDER FOOT AND LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING. WHEN ONE GETS AWAY FROM AMERICA AND AMERICAN CUSTOMS OR A SPELL IT IS ONLY THEN THAT HE REALLY APPRECIATES THE TRUE VALUE OF THE GOOD OLD UNITED STATES. DURING THE LAST FIVE MONTHS I HAVE VISITED ENOUGH HOLES TO DO ME THE REST OF MY LIFE. THE EXPERIENCE WAS UNDOUBTEDLY A GOOD THING BUT AS A WHOLE THE ENTIRE TRIP WAS JUST ANOTHER VERY HOT CRUISE IN A VERY UNPLEASNT COUNTRY WITH NOTHING TO DO BUT SWEAT TO YOUR HEARTS CONTENT .
I SUPPOSE THAT I WILL SEE GEORGE SOMETIME THIS WEEK AS WE ARE SUPPOSED TO REMAIN ANCHORED IN THE CITY OF LONG BEACH FOR A FEW WEEKS. AFTER THAT NO ONE KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT WE WILL DO EXCEPT THAT WE WILL VISIT THE FAIR AT SAN FRANCISCO FOR A FEW DAYS. I DO KNOW THAT WE ARE SCHEDULED TO REPORT TO DRYDOCK AT BREMINGTON SOMETIME DURING THE WINTER MONTHS. HOWEVER, I EXPECT THAT WE WILL SPEND VERY LITTLE TIME IN THE VICINITY OF LONG BEACH.
HOPING THAT ALL ARE WELL AND ENJOYING THE FINE SPRING AIR UNTIL NEXT TIME I AM WITH LOVE, YOUR SON, MARION.
P.S. Mother’s Day Sunday is set aside to recall to some that they have a mother. To us it’s constantly remember home and mother and father. It is a good occasion anyway.
From Hall of Valor:
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Marion William Dufilho (NSN: 0-81070), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane and as Section Leader of the Fifth Division, Fighting Squadron FIVE (VF-5), attached to the U.S.S. SARATOGA (CV-3), in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands, on 7 August 1942. Upon sighting a hostile force of eleven dive bombers intent upon raiding our transports and other surface vessels, Lieutenant Dufilho, often pursuing his target through bursting shells of his own anti-aircraft fire, personally shot down two of the planes and damaged a third. By his cool courage and superb airmanship, he contributed materially to the success of our forces in a vigorous attack which destroyed a total of nine Japanese bombers and effectively disrupted the enemy's plans. The conduct of Lieutenant Dufilho throughout this action reflects great credit upon himself, and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
General Orders: Authority: Board of Awards: Serial 28 (March 2, 1943
Action Date: August 7, 1942
Company: Fighting Squadron 5 (VF-5)
Division: U.S.S. Saratoga (CV-3)
Distinguished Flying Cross
From Hall of Valor:
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Marion William Dufilho (NSN: 0-81070), United States Navy, for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Pilot of a Fighter Plane during the Solomon Islands Campaign on 24 August 1942. During the air attack by Japanese bombing planes on U.S. Naval forces he flew to intercept the Japanese bombing planes but was fiercely attacked by an overwhelming force of enemy "Zero" type planes. He aided in shooting down the enemy planes until he himself was shot down. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country while aiding materially in demoralizing the enemy air attack. His courage throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
General Orders: Commander in Chief Pacific: Serial 24 (November 12, 1942)
Action Date: August 24, 1942
USS Dufilho (DE 423) is named in honor of Marion; the ship was sponsored by his widow.