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Sam Logan


No bio history is available but here is a note from his grandson Timothy Hood:

Sam may be one of the more notable pilots of VMF-112 in World War II, if for nothing other than the unique nature of his combat and injuries. There is a brief story atvmf-112_history in the paragraph beginning with, "On 7 June, several allied squadrons, including VMF-112." A similarly-worded story is also found at vmfa-112 on the fifth page.

I have been doing some research into my family history and discovered the story of my grandfather Sam Logan, who was a pilot in VMF-112.

R. Bruce Porter and Eric Hammel make an account in his book, Ace!: A Marine Night-Fighter Pilot in World War II.

+ Click to expand and read the story...

During one such conversation on my second or third day at Henderson Field, I was given some details of a huge air battle that had occurred near Bougainville on June 7, the day Greg Boyington broke his ankle.

One of the top-scoring squadrons that day had been VMF-112, which would not have been of particularly compelling interest to me but for the act that it had been command by my first operational flight leader, Bob Fraser, now a major, and had involved my old "half-a-caste" wingman, 1st Lieutenant Sam Logan, in a heart-stopping role.

It took me some time to piece together the news because VMF-112 had been relieved and sent south the day after the battle, which was the day before our own trip from Turtle Bay to Henderson Field.

Sam had scored his first kill over Bougainville on June 5, right after joining VMF-112 as a replacement for a downed lieutenant. The June 7 battle was only his second combat mission.

Sam's second combat intercept was made at 20,000 feet, when he went after a Zero that was plainly getting the better of a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-40 fighter. Unfortunately, Sam failed to notice that a second Zero had picked him up and was boring in from behind. Within a minute, Sam's Corsair was vibrating badly from a number of rounds through the engine. When Sam looked back to see where his attacker was, he saw instead that his airplane's tail surfaces had been hit by numerous bullets and were beginning to peel away from the framework.

There was no way Sam was going to get that fighter home, so he pushed back the canopy, unbuckled his seat harness and jumped away into thin air. His chute deployed without any problems, and he began drifting toward the spectacularly beautiful sea thousands of feet below. All around Sam, Corsairs, Zeros, and P-40s were tangling in mortal combat. Here and there, Zeros fell away from the battle, trailing long plumes of smoke and flame. Large, expanding brownish splotches marked the spots where warplanes had blown up in mid air.

But Sam Logan was out of it, reduced to the role of a mere observer.

From out of nowhere, the Zero that had shot up Sam's Corsair dived on the helpless Marine, its machine guns blazing. The stream of tracer fell away beneath Sam's feet, and the Zero flashed by before the pilot could correct his aim.

The Japanese pilot pulled up and around and prepared to make another firing pass at Sam. As he came on, Sam pulled up on the chute shrouds and tucked his knees against his checks to make a smaller target of himself.

Suddenly, Sam realized that there were no bullets coming his way. With crystal clarity, Sam realized that the pilot was going to try to hack him to death with the Zero's propeller.

Sam lowered himself in the chute as the Zero came out of its shallow dive at dazzling speed. At the last possible instant, Sam pulled up on the shrouds with all his strength and again yanked his knees to his chest. The metal propeller blades missed his feet by inches. The Zero passed so close that it was all Sam could do to keep from trying to kick in the windscreen with his only weapons, his two combat boots.

As the Zero climbed around for another pass, Sam spilled his chute in the hope of dropping toward the sea with far greater speed, at least to make the Japanese pilot's next pass harder to line up.

Then the Zero was coming at him again. He tried to pull up on the shrouds and shorten his body. But he was either too slow or the Zero pilot had learned something from his previous pass. Sam felt a wrenching bump and a piercing stab of pain. Dumbfounded, he look down at saw that his entire right foot was gone and that a gory stream of blood was pouring from the stump. Blood was also pouring from his left foot, which, though the heel had been sliced off, was still attached to his leg.

As if this was not enough, the Zero was banking around for its fourth pass on the helpless Marine. Sam's mind focused on just one simple thought, "This is the end!"

Sam's good judgment and nerves never deserted him. As he prepared to pull up on the shrouds and shorten his body once again, the New Zealander he had saved minutes earlier dived out of the blue, all guns blazing, and chased the Zero away.

The New Zealander followed Sam all the way to the sea, where Sam made a soft landing. Sam's instincts were terrific; they completely overcame the pain and loss of blood. He efficiently slipped out of the parachute harness and twisted the knob that activated the rubber raft he carried in his ass pack. There was a comforting hiss and crackle, and the raft quickly expanded beside Sam, who used the last of his composure and strength to heave his mutilated body aboard, out of the shark-infested water.

Sam rolled over onto his back and fumbled with his emergency pack. He unwrapped a gauze bandage and pulled out his K-bar knife, from which he fashioned a passable tourniquet. By then, the blood loss and shock were fuddling Sam's mind, but he held on to that tourniquet and even released it at regular intervals, despite a creeping sense that he was locked in a bad dream. In that dream state, he popped several sulfa tablets into his mouth to combat infection and then stabbed a full syrette of morphine into the mutilated leg to combat an awesome pain.

After an hour, Sam was jarred from his reveries by the puny rumble of an approaching Grumman J2F Duck. He removed his highly polished metal mirror from his emergency pack and flashed it at the approaching amphibian.

High above, Lieutenant Colonel Nathaniel Clifford, temporary commander of MAG-21, immediately potted the mirror flashes from the surface and made a water landing right beside the tiny yellow liferaft bearing Half-a-Caste Logan. Clifford flew Sam straight to our new base in the Russell Islands, and Sam's right leg and bleeding left foot were promptly treated. Then Lieutenant Colonel Clifford flew Sam back to Henderson Field. Sam was safely in the base hospital at Turtle Bay by nightfall, receiving the finest medical care available in the South Pacific. Within days, he was safely in an Australian military hosplital.

The story, related to me in far less detail only a few days after the event, shocked me to the core of my being. I swore that I would get a Zero for Sam.

In his book, Corsair: The F4U in World War II and Korea, Barrett Tillman writes of the same event:

The off-again-on-again sparring continued till mid-June. By that time, two more large Japanese attacks had been foiled. On the 7th, 112 raiders were intercepted and 23 claimed destroyed. Only VMF-112 made any kills among the Corsair squadrons, with seven tallies, while four F4Us and a P-40 were shot down. One Wolfpack pilot, Lieutenant Sam Logan, had a horrifying taste of aerial combat. Attempting to break through a flock of Zeros which had trapped a New Zealander, Logan's plan was set afire and he bailed out at 18,000 feet. Logan's parachute deployed safely but left him a helpless, dangling target for one bloodthirsty Japanese. The Zeke pilot proved a poor marksman, failing to hit Logan in several passes, then changed his tactics. He decided to chop the Marine to pieces with his propeller, and succeeded in amputating part of each foot. Before the Japanese could complete his aerial butchery he was driven off by another Kiwi P-40. Logan splashed safely into the water and was rescued by a J2F amphibian.

There is also an article in the June, 1944 edition of Reader's Digest, titled, "The Pilot Who Kept on Fighting," which was condensed from a story by Paul Gallico that appeared in Esquire magazine, December, 1943 edition. I can forward that story to you as well if you are interested.


Timothy Hood