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Thadius "Thad" Coleman

Thad Coleman

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Thadius "Thad" Coleman joined Butch O'Hare's fighter squadron while it was re-forming at Naval Air Station, North lsland, San Diego, California in the spring of 1943.

He was a southern gentleman and spoke the same language as the other southern boys like Joe Robbins from the Carolinas; Bob Neel from Florida and Jim Maryweather from Georgia.

He deployed to Maui, T.H. in July with the rest of the squadron. When the squadron was first organized into teams or divisions, "Thad" was in The Third Division, lead by Richard "Dix" Loesch.

About the time that "Butch" took two thirds of VF-6 (24 planes) aboard the USS Independence (CVL-22), to go on the raid to Marcus Island, Sandy Crews took the other 12 plane flight of Hellcats and flew aboard the new USS Princeton (CVL-23) ( 22 August '43).

When they arrived on the Princeton, they became (temporarily) a part of Air Group 23 lead by Hank Miller. Hank was the Navy Pilot that helped train the Jimmy Doolittle's Raiders. Dix Loesch, his wingman Al Niquist and Thad Coleman were in this group.

Admiral Radford took a force made up of the two new CVL carriers, Princeton and Belleau Wood CVL-24 down to Holland and Baker Islands, (south-west of Hawaii) which had just recently been taken possession of by Adm. Ching Lee on 1 September. The carrier force was to provide combat air patrol while our Seabees were building an air strip.

"The combat air patrols were boring for the most part, Thad said, "except two or three times when they were directed out to intercept a Japanese intruder."

The first one was intercepted and pursued by the Third Division. Al Niquist got in a good firing run and then Dix finished it off. The very next day pilots from the Belleau Wood shot down a second Japanese float plane and then on the 8th of September 1943, Thad Coleman shot down a third 'Emily.' This one used all kinds of defensive tactics and made it difficult, but Thad got it without taking any hits.

While the air field was being constructed, the carriers circled the islands 32 times. Each time they crossed the equator two times, for a total of 64 crossings.

After the task had been completed at Holland and Baker Islands, the two CVL task group (Belleau Wood and Princeton) joined The new USS Lexington (CV-16) which Admiral Pawnell had brought down from Pearl Harbor and together on 18 September, raided the Enemy at Tarawa, and Makin Atolls.

The division lead by Sandy Crews, hit planes and facilities on Makin, while his wing-man, "Junior" Godsen set fire to four more Emily sea planes.

Thad flew with other squadrons and drew some staff duty as WWII ended. We had a two or three day visit in his Washington home in 1947. After that we both were promoted and before retiring in the 70's he had a very enviable tour of duty as Commanding Officer of the Master Jet Station, NAS Miramar.

"Thad" Coleman appeared in a photograph with the whole squadron at Puunene, Maui in July 1943

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Thad Coleman appeared in a photograph with the whole squadron at Puunene, Maui in July 1943. Note: The pilot's helmet was made from the same type cloth as their flight suits. The pilots wore or flew with their parachute and inflatable life vest with dye markers and an emergency light attached. On the pilots back inside his parachute harness was an emergency back pack with a well chosen collection of rations, water and equipment. Note: my backpack had a 24" machete which I flew with all during the war and I still have it over 60 years later.

Christmas, 1943, the squadron met with our dear friends, Frank and Ethal Hoogs, at Wailiku, Maui for Christmas Dinner, at which time we joined the Hoogs family and others, in memorializing our late skipper. "Butch O'Hare.

He later participated in the 21 plane Memorial Flight of Hellcats back to Barber's Point on Dec 26, 1943.

VF-6 - Paul Rooney's Flight
February 1944 in U.S.S. Intrepid (CV-11) at
Majuro Atoll

Others of "Harrison's Flight" are Here

VF-6 - Paul Rooney's Flight

Paul Rooney`s Flight of VF-6, February 1944 in U.S.S. Intrepid -

Row L-R: Dix Loesch, Malacomb "Bud" Loesch, "Bill" Searle, Thadius "Thad" Coleman, Severe O. Bach.

Second Row L-R: John "Johner" Ogg, Harvey "Jock" Odenbrett, Richard "WhiskeyDick" Tremble, "Wheels" Davis, and David Moyer.

Back Row L-R: "Bud" Warren, "Junior" Godsen, Paul "Pablo" Rooney, J.P. Altimus and Earl Mitchell.

In August 1990, Thad joined other members of Butch O'Hare's Fighting Squadron Six in a reunion in Chicago, Ill. Thad was chipper and in reasonably good health at the time, as he joined in the dedication of a memorial plaque to the City of Chicago to be added to the O'Hare memorial then at the O'Hare Airport.

You may find this information in the Reunions Section.

- Hersch Pahl

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

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