Ensign Wesley Frank Osmus, R.I.P.

U.S. Navy Ensign Osmus has been dead for sixty-seven years, but I didn’t know about him until I came across his story reading Shattered Sword, The Untold Story of The Battle of Midway. Now I keep imagining him staring at the Japanese sailor coming at him with an axe as he held onto the chain rail on the stern of Arashi, a destroyer in Nippon’s First Carrier Striking Force.

Osmus, a TBD Devastator torpedo-bomber pilot from the carrier Yorktown, had crashed in the sea, been plucked out by Arashi‘s crew and interrogated by Captain Watanabe Yusumasa. Then Watanabe ordered Osmus thrown off the stern. He grabbed hold of the chain rail; hence the sailor with the axe. Odd that his Web memorial at the University of Illinois alumni page makes no mention of his murder, though the 2007 book’s authors know it well enough and add: “Watanabe did not survive the war. Had he lived, it is likely he would have met the hangman’s noose as a war criminal.”

UPDATE:  To be fair, I suppose I should link to this, which shows how much things have changed.

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