Capt. Doit L. Fish
Marine Bomber Squadron VMB 611, Marine Air Group 32, 1st Marine Air Wing
Missing in Action 30 May 1945 near Davao, Mindanao, Philippine Islands
Crew remains recovered November, 1956, group burial July 1957
-- David L. Fish --
My father was born October 13, 1920 in Casey, Illinois to Cora and Will Fish. He was the youngest of four sons with both an older sister and a younger sister.
He attended public schools in Piatt County (Milmine and Bement) and graduated from Bement Township High School on May 30, 1939. Six years later, to the day, Dad
would give his life for our country's freedom.
Central Illinois is known for its agriculture and farms. While my grandfather and uncles were not farmers, at one point or another, they "managed" farmland for
other owners. My grandmother told me that Dad did not want to have anything to do with farming; he wanted to face other challenges, the primary one to fly airplanes.
Thus, he enrolled at Illinois State Normal University, Normal, IL as a student for 2 1/2 years. While his regular class grades were not outstanding, his flight training
earned him certification as an airman by the Civil Aeronautics Administration. With the war in progress and as a certified civilian aviator, Dad decided to leave his
junior year and enlist as a US Navy Reserve Air Cadet.
Dad enlisted in the US Navy Reserve on June 23, 1942 at St. Louis, Missouri and was accepted as an Aviation Cadet. He attended Naval Aviation Pre-Flight School, Primary
Flight Training, and Advanced Flight Training. On June 19, 1943 while stationed at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, Dad accepted a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the US Marine
Corps Reserve. On August 28, 1943, in St. Louis, Dad married my Mother, the former Dorothy J. Hawks, who at the time was a student nurse. After a short honeymoon, Dad
reported to MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, assigned to Marine Air Group 61, 3rd Marine Air Wing.
On October 1, 1943, the Marine Corps commissioned several Marine Bomber Squadrons at Cherry Point, including VMB 611. On November 16, Dad joined VMB 611 as a PBJ-1 (the
Navy designation for the B-25 Mitchell) pilot, and continued his training at Cherry Point until the end of December. During this time, Mom was able to be near him, living
in New Bern, NC. In January 1944, VMB 611 was assigned to MCAS Parris Island, South Carolina for more squadron and flight crew training. Additional training, including
torpedo and depth charges, was conducted at NAS Boca Chica, Florida in February and July. On April 1, Dad accepted an appointment to the rank of 1st Lieutenant remaining
with VMB 611 as a pilot.
In August 1944, VMB 611 was transferred to the MCAD, Miramar, San Diego, California for deployment to the South Pacific. Half the flight crews and their PBJ aircraft
departed for Hawaii while the other half of the flight crews and entire ground support crew departed from Port Hueneme, CA on September 26. After arriving in San Diego
and before his September deployment, Dad received an emergency leave to return to Decatur, IL to see his newborn son, born on August 28, 1944. Yes, I was his First Wedding
Anniversary present, and he got to see me before going overseas.
VMB 611's first combat operations were the Solomon Islands Campaign, conducted from Emirau, an island near the Rabaul area. Dad's first six missions, including his first
air strike on December 23, were conducted from Emirau. In late March 1945, VMB 611 departed Emirau to join MAG 32, and the 1st Marine Air Wing at Moret Field, Zamboanga,
Mindanao, Philippine Islands. VMB 611 would be the only Marine Bomber Squadron to operate and support Army ground troops in the Philippine Islands.
Dad's next 19 missions, including his last, were conducted as part of the Philippine Islands Campaign and were concentrated on the island of Mindanao. On the fateful day
of May 30, 1945, VMB 611 saw their greatest loss of the war. VMB 611's Commanding Officer led a multiple PBJ sweep of the Kibawe Trail. During the morning, he was shot down
with the loss of him and three crewmembers. In the afternoon, after searching for the CO's lost aircraft, my father and crew became Missing in Action never to be seen again.
I was nine-months old when he was declared MIA.
Of course the war ended, but growing up without my father left me with a great loss and many unanswered questions. Then we were notified that my Dad's aircraft wreckage
and crew skeletal remains were found on November 16, 1956 in the area he was reported missing. Although individual identification was impossible, it was confirmed that
the remains were of Dad and his crew. A group burial with full military honors was held at Fort Logan National Cemetery, Denver, Colorado on July 15, 1957. My Dad and
his crew trained together, were deployed overseas together, flew combat missions together, died together, and will rest in eternal peace together:
Capt. Doit L Fish Pilot
1st Lt Donald C Sculati Co-Pilot
Capt Sigurd J Simonson Passenger/Observer
S/Sgt Richard C Vorel Navigator/Bombardier
Sgt Robert L Harrison Radio/Waist Gunner
Cpl Walter G Charboneau Mechanic/Tail Gunner
Cpl Chester D Luberda Radio/Waist Gunner
Cpl John D Rood Ordinance/Turret Gunner
Words that mean so much to me and give me some comfort were noted by Dad's surviving fellow pilots when they found out that my Dad and crew were finally laid to rest:
"The book on VMB 611 can now be closed . . . All planes are in."
For his service and sacrifice, Dad was promoted to the rank of Captain. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with three Gold Stars, the Purple Heart,
and various other medals. For their contributions to the Solomon Islands and Philippine Islands Campaigns, MAG 32 and VMB 611 were awarded the NAVY UNIT COMMENDATION Ribbon.
Even after Dad's burial, which due to family difficulties, my stepfather did not allow Mom or I to attend, I was still left with all those unanswered questions. Only in
the past year, through the Internet, contacts with VMB 611 vets, organizations such as NARA and AWON, and my own determination has made my quest to know my Dad and his
history a little less painful.
Dad, you will always be in my heart and mind, your sacrifice will always be remembered; not only here, but also in the World War II Memorial Honoree Registry. Semper Fi.