Controversy Behind Our Historical past of
“Strangest Dogfight Ever”
Leatherneck’s July 2006 challenge included the article “ ‘Kannibal Ken’: Captain Kenneth L. Reusser Consumes a ‘Dragon Slayer,’” which introduced us a number of letters, together with some from World Conflict II-era members of Marine Fighter Squadron 312. We additionally acquired a letter from Mrs. Robert R. Klingman and her son, Robert R. Klingman Jr., M.D.
Most of those letters questioned the accuracy of the article and took us to job for no more utterly addressing the heroic participation of then-First Lieutenant Robert R. Klingman within the motion.
Our article, written by Main Alex Durr, a area historian with the Corps’ Historical past Division, described 1stLt Klingman’s downing of a Japanese “Nick” plane by repeated ramming, utilizing his propeller to chew up the enemy plane. Leatherneck additionally famous that Klingman was awarded a Navy Cross for his actions on this 10 Could 1945 air battle.
Nonetheless, our July article was advised from the attitude of his wingman, now retired Colonel Ken Reusser, who additionally was awarded a Navy Cross for his participation within the dogfight. Col Reusser supplied the creator one-on-one interviews for the article.
After receiving the questioning letters, Leatherneck requested and obtained accessible declassified fight reviews of the air battle. Quite a few newspaper articles of the account have been learn, in addition to our Could 1995 article, “Thriller at 38,000 Ft,” which was largely about 1stLt Klingman’s half within the air battle and the Nationwide Museum of Naval Aviation’s fall 1995 Basis journal article, “Knocking Down a Japanese Fighter—The Arduous Means,” by Lieutenant Colonel Donald Okay. Tooker, USMC (Ret). This latter article described the aerial fight much like that in our July Leatherneck.
The declassified Marine Corps data of the ten Could battle contained a number of errors. That shouldn’t be shocking contemplating the heavy motion on Okinawa. For instance, Plane Motion Report #27 signifies that there have been three Nicks vice the one. The report additionally states that when 1stLt Klingman used his propeller to down the enemy plane, “Throughout all these runs, the NICK continued to fireplace at him, from the 7. 7 rear gun, damaging his engine and wing.” In actual fact, the weapons of the Marine plane had been with out gun heaters and had been frozen or jammed, as had been the Nick’s weapons.
The Okinawa Air Protection Command Every day Intelligence Abstract for 10 Could 1945 described the motion in some element, acknowledging that 1stLt Klingman made three runs on the Nick, using his propeller to ship the Nick “right into a spin.” The report additionally states that the Nick fired “weapons that seemed to be 12. 7 mm.” All different descriptions of the air battle, together with the statements of the 2 Marine pilots concerned, point out just one enemy plane.
There is no such thing as a point out in any of those official reviews of Capt Reusser’s plane ramming the Nick or incurring harm because of ramming the Nick, neither is there point out of Reusser ramming the Nick in his Navy Cross quotation. The
After this photograph ran in July, World Conflict II VMF-312 pilot Merritt “MO” Likelihood recognized these pictured as Capt Ken Reusser (far proper), describing the ten Could 1945 air battle, and (from backside left) 1stLt Bob Klingman, Capt Jim Cox and 1stLt Frank J. Watson. (USMC photograph)
reviews and the quotation for Klingman’s Navy Cross point out the harm to his plane because of the a number of assaults on the Nick.
Col Reusser reviewed the Leatherneck article and the letters questioning Leatherneck’s description of the dogfight. He famous that he didn’t just like the nickname Kannibal Ken and that the article is deceptive in that it “doesn’t mirror the correct recognition for [his] pal and wingman, 1stLt Robert Klingman’s necessary half within the motion.” He additionally commented that when the Basis article was printed in 1995, 1stLt Bob Klingman was alive and didn’t object to the portrayal of the air fight.
Fortuitously, 1stLt Klingman’s son saved his father’s recorded description of the fight air patrol. It’s posted with permission on our Leatherneck Web page at: www.mca- marines.org/leatherneck, and a replica has been supplied to the Marine Corps Historical past Division. The Klingman recording doesn’t point out Reusser ramming the Nick.
First Lt Klingman and Capt Reusser are certainly heroes who went on to serve our nation and Corps in different wars.
Bob Klingman fought within the Korean Conflict and retired as a lieutenant colonel. He handed away in 2004.
Ken Reusser was awarded a second Navy Cross for his heroism in Korea and distinguished himself as a pilot and commander in Vietnam.
We apologize to the Klingman household for any perceived slight. None was meant—by the creator or the journal.
Col Walt Ford, USMC (Ret)
Editor, Leatherneck journal