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Louis L. "Louie" Davis

Louis L. "Louie" Davis

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Louis L. "Louie" Davis (from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma) was a member of a 4 plane fighter division from the USS Hancock CV-19 that became involved in the rescue of a downed Navy pilot in a life raft in Kagoshima Wan (bay) in southern Japan.

Louis L.
During the dog fight with a flight of determined Japanese fighter planes, over the downed aviator, "Louie" was last seen by his team mates chasing and firing at a Japanese fighter plane while another one was behind and firing at Louie.

Initially, Louie was listed as missing; however his team mates are convinced that one of the several oil slicks left by crashed aircraft, marked the place where Louie paid the ultimate price in his efforts to save the life of the downed Hancock pilot in the life raft.

Louis L. "Louie" Davis is a hero in every sense of the word, as he gave his life to save the life of a VB-6 dive bomber pilot, "Pete" Somerville.

Pete was in his life raft and Japanese planes were after him. This story is called "The Battle of Kagoshima Bay".

Louis F. Jakubec with
R. L. Somerville

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On March 29, 1945, a multi-plane strike from Air Group Six was launched from the USS Hancock to strike Japanese military targets at a seaplane base in Kagoshima Bay, some 200 miles from the task force. Following the attack, one of the dive-bomber pilots , R.L. "Pete" Somerville, had to bail out of his damaged aircraft. Unfortunately his Radioman/gunner, Louis F. Jakubec, was not able to get out.

Pete had his troubles, but finally managed to get in his small life raft.

When the news reached the Hancock, a division of four Hellcats lead by Robert L."Cherry" Klingler with Roland H. Baker, Willis H. Moeller and Davis, were sent to defend and help rescue the man in the water. Soon after they arrived over Pete in his raft, which was marked by the dye marker in the water, Pete was treated to an exciting air show as he witnessed a "dog fight" of a mixture of both Japanese and American fighter planes directly over-head.

The Japs had spotted the life raft and were approaching when the fight started. Cherry Klingler’s division tore into them and the melee started with both sides shooting and doing their offensive and defensive maneuvering. That flight of Japanese fighter planes seemed to be after the pilot in the life raft. "Pete" witnessed a lot of shooting going on over head while he laid back in his raft and watched it all. He was afraid that the winner was going to get him as a prize. Within a very short time five enemy planes had been shot down. Unfortunately, while "Louie" Davis was firing at one plane, another enemy plane was seen chasing and shooting at him. When it was all over, Louie was missisng. He had obviously lost his life while defending the man in the life raft.

A Japanese pilot, while descending in his parachute, was observed by Pete in his life raft.. Anticipating the beginning of the first battle of the Kagoshima Bay, Pete checked out his trusty .38 and blew the water out of it and prepared to repel boarders. Pete could imagine that guy swimming under water with his knife in his teeth. It was exciting; however, Pete did not see the enemy again and the surface Battle of Kagoshima Bay never did take place.

While Pete was being rescued by a float plane from one of our cruisers, Cliff Seaver and his wing-man, Jerry Hoveland shot down two more enemy aircraft in the vacinity of the rescue operation.

Years later in 1986 , Judge R. L. Somerville retired from the Bench In Kansas City where he had served many years on the Missouri Court of Appeals. Unfortunately, the long planned canoe and fishing trip with Hersch Pahl in southern Missouri did not take place as Pete encountered fatal heart problems shortly after he retired.

This dedication is made not only to Louie Davis who lost his life in defense of "Pete" Somerville, (who was rescued) , but also to Jakubec, the gunner of the ill-fated dive bomber, (who did not survive). This dediction is also made to the pilots who worked as a team to defend and help save ol' "Pete" Somerville: Robert L."Cherry" Klingler, Willis H. Moeller, Roland H. Baker, Cliff N. Seaver, Jerome O. "Jerry" Hoveland and others including the float plane pilot who participated in the rescue operation.

Photo courtesy of Peter M. Somerville of Vienna, Va.

The above photo and caption was borrowed from the Air Group Wartime Cruise Book.

You can read more about the Rescue of Pete Somerville in his own Dedication Here.

- Hersch Pahl

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

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October 1, 2007