THOMAS E. EDWARDS, JR., LT, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Thomas Edwards, Jr. '37

Date of birth: December 30, 1914

Date of death: January 30, 1943

Age: 28

Lucky Bag

From the 1937 Lucky Bag:


Loss

Thomas was lost when his F4F-4 Wildcat failed to return from a mission. He was a member of Fighting Squadron (VF) 10. From Pacific Wrecks:

On January 30, 1943 took off from USS Enterprise CV-6 off Rennell Island on a mission to intercept Japanese bombers from the 705 Kokutai and 751 Kokutai attacking U. S. Navy vessels during the during the Battle of Rennell Island. When his Wildcat failed to return, he was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

His wife was listed as next of kin.

Career

Thomas reported to NAS Pensacola for flight training on June 30, 1939 as an Ensign. He was promoted to LTJG on June 3, 1940; on that same day he was designated naval aviator #6460. He was promoted to LT on January 2, 1942. He detached from Scouting Squadron (VS) 2 for Fighting Squadron (VF) 10 on August 1, 1942. He was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross on October 26, 1942 while flying from USS Enterprise (CV 6), though unable to find citation. His Silver Star, below, was while flying from Marine Corps Air Base Guadalcanal. (Information from Richard Leonard, naval aviation historian.)

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Thomas Elbert Edwards (NSN: 0-78719), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Scouting Plane in Scouting Squadron TWO (VS-2), attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-2), in action against enemy Japanese forces during the Air Battle of the Coral Sea on 7 and 8 May 1942. With Participating in a dive-bombing attack on an enemy aircraft carrier on 7 May, Lieutenant Edwards contributed materially to the destruction of the vessel by pressing home his attack with skill and determination. On 8 May he launched repeated counterattacks against Japanese aircraft in the face of heavy fighter opposition. His conspicuous devotion to duty and utter disregard of personal safety were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: May 7 & 8, 1942
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Company: Scouting Squadron 2 (VS-2)
Division: U.S.S. Lexington (CV-2)

Silver Star

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Thomas Elbert Edwards (NSN: 0-78719), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Combat Plane attached to the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE (CV-6), during aerial combat against enemy Japanese forces in the Guadalcanal Area on 15 November 1942. Despite a serous knee injury, Lieutenant Edwards finally gained permission to leave the Army Hospital at Nouema in order to return to his Squadron. Gallantly leading his flight against Japanese fighter planes and with utter disregard for his own personal safety, he destroyed one enemy fighter and damaged two others, thereby contributing in great part to repelling a bombing raid. Following this action he returned to his base, re-serviced, and immediately took off again in quest of the enemy, later voluntarily strafing enemy positions west of Henderson Field. His personal valor, skillful leadership, and aggressive fighting spirit were an inspiration to all the pilots based on Guadalcanal and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: 15-Nov-42
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Division: U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6)

Memorial Hall Error

Thomas' name doesn't appear on the killed in action panel in the front of Memorial Hall.

Related Articles

Hugh Wood, Jr. '40 was also a member of Scouting Squadron (VS) 2 during the Battle of the Coral Sea.


Class of 1937

Thomas is one of 45 members of the Class of 1937 in Memorial Hall.