Capt. Casey Stalnaker's Photos, p.2


Sgt. Geo 'Press' Adams
Sgt. JD Baribault
Sgt. Dan Daniels
Sgt. Tom Eldridge
Sgt. Charlie Hoke
Sgt. Ed Martin
Sgt. Eddie Seamands
Sgt. Con Ward
Lt. Robert Cox
Lt. Thomas Faull
Lt. Dan Githens
Lt. Billy Hay
Lt. Harry Knickelbein
Lt. Jack Lally
Lt. Lally. p.2
Lt. Ed Leidecker
Lt. Fritz Liebich
Lt. KO Misamore
Capt. Bill Patterson
Capt. Patterson, p.2
Capt. Casey Stalnaker
Capt. Casey Stalnaker, p2
Capt. Morgan Webb
Lt. Frank Whalen
Capt. John Worlund
National Archives


(Note - the document files are rather large, 100K - 200K.  If you have a dial-up service it will take a while to read them.)

Henry C. Stalnaker enlisted in the Marines in April 1939.  He stayed for 2 years, left briefly, then rejoined to become a pilot.  This first image gallery shows his documents and pictures up to early 1943.  Note that Marine pilots were trained by the Navy and were designated "Naval Aviators" upon graduation.

Certificate for Platoon Leader training.

Honorable Discharge 1941.

Pilot in training Stalnaker relaxes at the Pago Pago club, Miami Beach.

Humorous Link trainer certificate July '42.

First solo flight.

Lt. Stalnaker's Naval Aviator certificate September '42.

Coincident promotion to 2nd Lt., September '42.

After basic flight training came specialized TBM training at Ft. Lauderdale.

Casey (r) and his good friend Jim McQuade.

Another photo at Ft. Lauderdale. Casey is first in line on the left.

From the prior photo.

Lt. Stalnaker's first combat assignment was with VMTB-143 in the Solomons and his notes accompanying the pictures give some details.  For Guadalcanal: "Major Mollenkamp CO.  Participated in strikes on Bougainville, New Georgia, Rokato Bay and others - Jap seaplane tender sunk.  Stationed on Guadalcanal July 1943 - Sept 1943.  KIA  0 pilots, 1 crewman."  For Munda: "Capt. G. O. Smith CO.  Squadron at this time consisted of 18 pilots.  Most of this time spent with strikes on Bougainville.  KIA 1 pilot, 3 aircrewmen."  And on Bougainville: "Capt. 'Hank' Hise CO.  Squadron based on Bougainville Jan - March 1944.  Most action staged over Rabaul.  KIA 4 pilots 11 aircrewmen."  Rabaul was a tough target, claiming the life of many air men. 
After performing in the field for some months Captain Stalnaker was written up by his CO Hank Hise for a Distinguished Flying Cross.  The recommendation is quite detailed and well worth reading as it gives a good indication of the kind of missions flown.  Incidentally, several pilots stayed in 143 and were aboard the carrier in 1945.  Future CO John Worlund is shown in the front row, 6 from the right end in the Guadalcanal photo.

VMTB-143 pilots on Guadalcanal June '43. Casey's in the top row, 3 from the right end.

On Munda December '43. Leidecker and Webb went with Casey on the USS Gilbert Islands.

This was taken on Bougainville Jan '44. Casey's in the top row, 4th from the right.

Sketch done in early 1944 by artist Kerr Eby.

Letter accompanying the sketch to Casey's mother.

Hise's recommendation for DFC (p1).

DFC write-up (p2).

DFC write-up (p3).

When VMTB-143 was sent to Santa Barbara in mid-1944 Capt. Stalnaker came with it. These photos are from his time there June '44 - April '45. The DFC recommended by Hise was finally approved and awarded in Santa Barbara - Jim McQuade got one too. The official award citation from the Secretary of the Navy is much abbreviated compared to Hise's submittal.  While training at Santa Barbara Jim McQuade took off one day in a TBM and was never heard from again.  He presumably crashed in the ocean.
Casey's photos include nice ones of a few VMTB-143 pilots.  Molly the black bear was the squadron mascot, flown in from the Pacific Northwest by TBM pilot Tommy Faull.

Col. Perry Parmalee, Air Group Commander, awards the DFC to Capt. Stalnaker, July '44.

The official citation.

Jim McQuade gets his DFC at the same time.

'The Beam' announces the DFC ceremony.

Casey marries Jeanne Geremia Oct 1944.

Alan Hunt

Charles Loiselle

Robert Cromwell

Grover Jackson

Francis McCaul

Thomas Faull

Cornelius Montgomery

Charlies Loiselle and Harry Knickelbein

Casey at the air station

Relaxing in his bunk.

Molly at rest.

Molly close up.

Molly sacked out.

Molly close up.

TBM flight line

About to land.


Part of the training curriculum was carrier qualification. Here are some photos taken in Thermal California as the men learn carrier landing protocols on dry land. 




Roger F4U!

The next gallery comes from his time aboard the USS Gilbert Islands. The first picture shows the brain trust of the Carrier Air Group (l to r)  - Maj. Elton Mueller (XO VMF-512), Maj. Blaine Baesler (CO VMF-512), Col Campbell (Air Group Commander), Capt. John Worlund (CO VMTB-143) and Capt. Henry Stalnaker (XO VMTB-143).  The image of Lt. Misamore (KIA June '45) is one of the few I found - what a smile!

MCVG-2 combat leadership team.

Casey watches Capt. Worlund get a humorous 'award' from Col. Campbell.

Lt. Kelvern 'KO' Misamore, KIA in the Sakishima Islands.

USS Gilbert Islands

USS Gilbert Islands

The TBMs raided Okinawa in late May in direct support of the ground troops... the missions they were trained for in Santa Barbara.  This set of photos was taken over Okinawa in the last 2 weeks of May.

Bombed out houses.

Cleveland class cruiser.

Katina field.

US troop bivouc.

US merchant ships.

Naha's knocked out radio station.

Naha airfield.

Naha city - only a few buildings remain standing.


A main thoroughfare through Naha.

Circling waiting for orders.

TBMs, armed and dangerous, await strike orders.

No rockets - must be after the strike.

Smoke rises from Japanese positions being bombed.

Starting in June the carrier was sent to attack airfields in the Sakishima Islands between Formosa and Okinawa.

Probably Ishigaki City.

Miyako Retto Airfield

Miyako Shima and its 2 airfields. KO Misamore and his crew Sgts.Hall and Schaefer were killed here.

On June 16 a contingent was sent to Okinawa and assigned to bomb Kyushu.  This was probably to get the men familiar with the Japanese homeland in preparation for the invasion of Japan in the fall.

The Loose Goose and a TBM from the Block Island.

Detail of Block Island markings.

Before takeoff for Kyushu.

Sgt. Frank Henning was Capt. Stalnaker's turret gunner.

Close up of Henning.

Sgt. Henning was in the Solomons with VMSB-232 before joining VMTB-143.

The Air Group attacked targets in Borneo in July to support of the Australian troops landing at Balikpapan but there were no photos of these attacks in Casey's books.  The next event in Casey's scrapbooks is formation flying over Okinawa in late September.  It looks like it was a fun time!  P81 'The Loose Goose' is featured prominently here and in the June 16 section.  It's possible this was Casey's plane, i.e., he got to name it but not always fly it. 

The Loose Goose

The next group of pictures was taken over Formosa.  US forces made a 'Show of Strength' in mid-October 1945 as the Chinese army sent troops ashore.  No one wanted any incidents that would break the truce and the higher ups figured a heavy air cover would discourage any fighting.  The photos are of various points of interest.

Cruising off the coast of Formosa.


Flak tower.

Japanese shrine.

Harbor, view 1.

Harbor, view 2.

Railway trestle and bridge.

Over Northern Formosa.

Somewhere over the island.

Evidently Capt. Stalnaker enjoyed life in the Marine Corps.  However he was in the reserves, as were 90% of the men who served on the USS Gilbert Islands and staying on active duty as a reservist was perhaps not an option.  In any event, he resigned his commission and joined the regular Marines.  This enlistment started Dec 1946 when he was made a Staff Sergeant.  Two years later Sgt. Stalnaker lost his life when the airplane he was riding in spun out and crashed from low altitude December 2, 1948.  There were no survivors.  This gallery starts with awards and certificates from the end of the war and concludes with his obituary. 

Three battle stars and medals awarded for service in VMTB-143 aboard the USS Gilbert Islands.

President Truman's 'Thank You' letter.

Air Medal award document.

Star added to the Air Medal.

Casey resigns the reserves and joins the Marine Corps.

Side 2.

Appointment as Tech Sgt.

A sad ending for a courageous pilot.

In 2007 I visited Mike Geremia and was able to copy some of Casey's pictures and photograph some personal gear.  I was moved by handling the WW2 Mae West, the one he wore flying combat.

Casey's ID card as a 1st Lt.

Photo from the ID card as a Captain

LSO bats, Mae West and head cover

Underside of the Mae West

US Army stamp Mae West

LSO bat

In the cockpit, 1945

Studio portrait

USMC Honorable Service Certificate, given at death

Click here to return to VMTB-143 Photo Album page

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This site was last updated 11/26/07