MERLIN N. PADDOCK, LCDR, USN
Merlin Paddock '40
Date of birth: March 15, 1917
Date of death: April 16, 1945
From the 1940 Lucky Bag:
Merlin was lost while flying a combat mission with Fighting Squadron (VF) 23 near Kagoshima, Japan on April 16, 1945.
His wife was listed as next of kin.
From Find A Grave:
Navy Lt. Commander Merlin Paddock, World War II, son of Rev. and Mrs. John A. Paddock, was born on March 15, 1917. He is a 1934 graduate of Osmond High School and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.
Lt. Commander Paddock was officially declared missing in action and presumed dead following a bombing attack on units of the Japanese Navy near Kagoshina, Japan, on April 16, 1945. His carrier plane was shot down over Kyusha Island. Lt. Commander Paddock was seen bailing from his plane after it was hit.
His body was returned to the United States in 1948 and he is buried in Osmond City Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, Marjorie, two daughters, his parents, brothers John and Irving and sister Ruth Voorhees.
From Hall of Valor:
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Merlin N. Paddock, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane and Commander of an Air Group, Fighting Squadron TWENTY-THREE (VF-23), attached to the U.S.S. LANGLEY (CV-27), during action against major units of the Japanese Fleet off the southwestern coast of Kyushu, Japan, on 7 April 1945. Ordered to strike an enemy light cruiser after escorting our torpedo and dive bombers to the area through extremely adverse weather, Lieutenant Commander Paddock flew in over his assigned target in bold defiance of the enemy's concentrated anti-aircraft fire. Courageous and determined, he promptly maneuvered for maximum striking power and, despite the low visibility, pressed home his attack with devastating speed and skill, scoring a direct bomb hit to neutralize the shattering gunfire and enable our torpedo bombers to complete the destruction of this vital hostile Fleet unit. By his superb airmanship, daring tactics and cool courage, maintained in the face of tremendous odds, Lieutenant Commander Paddock contributed materially to the success of our aerial offensive against the Japanese and his brilliant leadership and valiant devotion to duty throughout the fierce action reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.
Action Date: 7-Apr-45
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Company: Fighting Squadron 23 (VF-23)
Division: U.S.S. Langley (CV-27)
Memorial Hall Error
The only evidence Merlin had a middle initial or name is in the Navy Cross citation above; it is not included in the US Naval Academy Register, any Officer Register, his headstone, or even on the killed in action panel. "N." is included in his name on the Class of 1943 panel.