Sunday, October 04, 2009

Dog Fight

On August 7th, 1942,
Pug Sutherland and
Saburo Sakai met
in the sky over Guadalcanal.

Sakai and his cadre
escorted bombers tasked with
attacking the U.S. naval invasion;
Sutherland and his fighter squad
were defending.

Having downed the
lead bomber, Sutherland was
attacked by three Zeroes.

Sakai came upon this scene and
was astounded by the grace of
a single Wildcat fighter
fending off three zeroes.

But, since two of those were
his young wingmen,
he waded in.

They fought long and hard
Sutherland’s Wildcat absorbing
incredible damage;
back and forth they dueled
broad axe against rapier

Sakai closed in for the kill, but
Pug hit the breaks and
Sakai slid by into
Sutherland’s sights.

He did not fire;
His guns were jammed by
a cannon round from
the bomber he
had shot down.

Sakai regained the six
saw that his foe was
badly wounded, but
Samurai duty prevailed.

As Pug pulled into a climb
Sakai shot him down.

Sutherland bailed out and
endured a day of greater terror on
the enemy held island but
was finally rescued.

Sakai went after more enemies and
found too many; a tail gunner on
a dive bomber shot him
through the head.

Half blind and delirious he
heard his mother’s voice
telling him which way to fly;
Five hundred miles later he
landed safely on Rabaul.

Both recovered and
returned to combat, but
they never met again.

Pug was killed in a
training accident in 1949 off
the Florida coast.

Sakai never flew again.
He renounced violence and
opened a print shop.

He went to America and
met his former foes including
the tail gunner who shot him.

Of the conflict, he asked
"Who gave the orders for
that stupid war?"

After a U.S. Navy formal dinner
given in his honor,
he died at 84.

Just before his death he
said "I pray every day for the souls of
my enemies as well as my comrades,"

Copyrighted © 2009 Eben M. Atwater - All Rights Reserved


David C. said...

Powerful story.

E. M. Atwater said...

Muchas Thanksas amigo!