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Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class (AMM1c)   Don Steadman, AMM1c, USN

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Aviation Machinist Mate First Class (AMM1/c) Don Steadman was one of the group of Navy enlisted men who called themselves "Butch's Boys" He appeared in a photo taken in Hawaii with the guys who were going to be a part of Butch O'Hare's Fighter Squardon.

Back row L-R:- Steve Piwetz, Don Steadman, Cornish, Willie Dawson, Frank Shamro and Lunsford.

Front Row: L-R:- Nick Iallo , Ernie Steel, Buzzy Baur, Yeoman Hansen and Barrett (parachute rigger).

I remember Steadman in April of 1943 at San Diego while we were re-forming Butch's fighter squadron. He was a part of the crew doing a 60 hour check on a Hellcat and Cliff Seaver and I were there looking on, trying to learn more about what makes a Hellcat tick.

After the squadron was deployed to Maui, Hawaii and had gone aboard the USS Independence for the squadron's first strike at the enemy at Marcus Island in Sept '43, Steadman was involved in a serious accident.

The ship (USS Independence CVL-22) was preparing to launch the first strike in a pre-dawn situation. Steadman was unfortunately the victim of a malfunctioning cartridge starting system of the Hellcat.

Even though the plane was re-equipped with an electric starter soon after, it didn't help Steadman one bit, as he received severe injuries to his lower pelvic extremities when he was hit by the hurling propeller of the Hellcat.

Don survived, but endured many painful reconstructive surgeries and periods of hospitalization and rehabilitation. He eventually was well enough to return to limited duty; however, one day a doctor put an end to this, when he said "This man has suffered enough - it's time that he should be retired with full disability pay.

Shortly there after, Steadman was retired to civilian life in Rhinlander, WI.

Don Steadman - Chicago VF-6
Reunion in 1989

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Steadman remained in contact with several of his old squadron mates through the years and proudly came to Chicago in August of 1989 with his wife for the VF-6 Reunion.

Everyone was glad to see their old Squadron mate as he was considered a "Real hero of the War." Few, if any one, has ever survived an altercation with the moving propeller of a 2000 horse- power engine of a Hellcat figher plane in the dark, on a rolling deck of a CVL!

That day in Chicago, Don Steadman was recognized and properly honored by our leader, Sandy Crews.

- Hersch Pahl

Don Steadman with wife at 1989
Chicago Reunion

"For those who fought for it...
freedom has a flavor the protected will never know!"

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October 1, 2007