Capt. Casey Stalnaker's Photos, p.2
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
Starting in June the carrier was sent to attack airfields in the Sakishima Islands
between Formosa and Okinawa.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
This site was last updated 11/26/07