Segment 1

Annotation

Alex Vraciu was on a mission with a flight of 12 aircraft when he noticed five Zeros [Annotators Note: Mitsubishi A6M single engine fighter aircraft]. One of the enemy planes was already shooting at them. He called out the enemy planes but nobody in his formation heard him. During the ensuing dogfight Vraciu saw a Hellcat [Annotators Note: US Grumman F6F Hellcat single engine naval fighter aircraft] shoot down another Hellcat. Vraciu quickly shot down three Zeros. His third kill was a Zero that was on floats. After that kill he went after a fourth that kept ducking in and out of the clouds. Vraciu pulled up into the sun where the fourth Zero could not see him then dove down and shot it down too. Vraciu credits his being able to down those four enemy aircraft during the first Truk raid to having a good wing man. That mission was a 72 plane fighter sweep. They cleaned out the air but that night a Japanese bomber came over them and torpedoed the Intrepid [Annotators Note: USS Intrepid (CV11)]. When the torpedo hit the Intrepid Vraciu was asleep in his bunk and was thrown out of it. The rudder was jammed and they had a tough time getting the carrier back to Pearl Harbor. After returning to Pearl Harbor they learned that their squadron, VF6 [Annotators Note: Fighting Squadron 6], was being sent back home. Vraciu volunteered to stay in theater. He had run into a friend of his who he had gone to school with who was serving in VF16. His friend asked if he would like to join VF16. He did. Vraciu had his reasons for wanting to stay. First off he had not shot down the ten Betty bombers he had promised himself. He also knew that many fighter pilots never got back into combat after returning to the United States. VF6 returned to the United States and Vraciu joined VF16.

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