James Wesley Dye Jr.

Branch: NAVY
Rank: Aviation Radioman 3rd Class
Outfit: Task Group 58.1, Torpedo Squadron 82 (VT-82) Based on USS Bennington (CV-20)

James was born on November 27, 1925 to parents James Sr. and Kathryn Dye and later had a younger brother, Ronald. The Dye family lived in Gloucester City and then in Runnemede but moved to 41 W. Buckingham Avenue in Mount Ephraim before 1940. Buddy attended Audubon High School and graduated in 1943. After graduation, Jimmy entered the U.S. Navy and served in the Atlantic before being transferred to the aircraft carrier USS Bennington (CV-20) in December 1944.
On February 18, 1945, Torpedo Squadron 82 (VT-82), also known as “Devil’s Diplomats” took off from the Bennington to begin a bombing run on Chichi Jima, a part of the Bonin Island chain and sister island to Iwo Jima. In formation aboard TBM-3 Avenger #22904, Pilot: Bob King, Radioman James W. Dye Jr, (on their first combat mission) and Gunner: Grady A. York Jr. were preparing to attack when the left wingman’s plane was struck by Japanese anti-aircraft fire destroying the right wing. This caused the wingman’s Avenger to flip over and strike King’s plane in the rear of the cockpit. Additionally, the wingman’s propeller chewed off a large section of King's left wing causing it to go into a spin. King thought they were going to crash so he ordered a bail out. Dye and York successfully bailed and King was preparing to jump when the plane righted itself. Buddy and Grady safely parachuted into shallow water but were promptly captured by Japanese soldiers. King was able to nurse his aircraft back to the area of the task group but the plane was so badly bent up behind the cockpit that a carrier landing was impossible. He had to crash-land in the water and was quickly rescued. 
On February 25, 1945, Jimmy was brutally executed by being decapitated on orders of Japanese Navy Captain Shizuo Yoshii. Only 2 days prior, his comrade Grady York suffered a similar fate. Their livers were removed and later served as food to high ranking Japanese officers, as part of "Yamato damashii", or Japanese spirit warrior indoctrination. After the war, Buddy's remains were recovered by American soldiers, and returned to Hawaii for burial at Honolulu Memorial in Honolulu, HI.- Buried at: Section N, Grave 1291. Captain Yoshii, the Japanese officer who ordered his death and cannibalization, was tried for War Crimes in 1947, executed by hanging, and buried in an unmarked grave on the island of Guam (where the trial was held). 




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