Pour on the cool

By Ryan

After lunch, Spike and Ray were reloaded and back on the hunt. Flying in from the South, the TBD entered into the Slot, taking on gunfire from the smaller Japanese crafts. Spike and Ray weaved in and out of the gunfire, making runs with their squadron, then runs on their own. As the day eased into the dawn amongst the clouds of smoke, each fighter from Torpedo Squadron 5 disengaged from combat and returned to the Yorktown. Spike was one of the last ones to leave combat, not wanting to return with any unused ammo. They took one last run of strafing gunfire before peeling off and heading home.
As Spike rose up above the island of Guadalcanal in his TBD Destroyer, his radio equipment quit. He had hoped to pick up a signal from the USS Yorktown and cruise on in for a landing. That option was lost as the biggest, emptiest ocean he had ever saw slowly came into view. Looking into the vastness, Leonard knew he had made a mistake. As the rest of the squadron circled back to the Yorktown, few fighters including Spike, made one final assault on the smaller Japanese crafts. Spike wasn’t about to return back to base with unused bullets, however that last attempt put his fuel level in a critical point. Separated from his squadron and running low on fuel, Spike and Ray navigated back to the original location of the USS Yorktown. Nothing. Beginning what was known as a square search, Spike flew the plane in a grid looking for the Yorktown when two fighter pilots emerged from the clouds closing in on Spike and Ray. Spike jerked to the left and readied himself for the fight with little gas and no radio contact head on.
The threat of combat quickly dissipated once the pilots recognized their allegiance. Flying side by side, the pilots motioned to the North. Spike snuck in behind the fighter as they poured on the coal back to the Yorktown. However the comfort of flying with friendly TBD’s was soon lost. After a few confusing minutes of trying to follow each other, Spike realized the plane he was following was lost as well. Now Spike had to punch it back towards Guadalcanal. The closer he could get to the island, the less ocean he would have to travel to reach safety. His fellow pilot flew in tandem until Spike had to commit to a water landing. It no longer matters where the ship is he thought I am out of gas and I need to land this plane. He banks off from the other plane and starts to descend towards the Coral Sea. With the ocean accelerating towards the cockpit, Spike radios to Ray one last time as TBD skips across the Coral Sea, landing in the ocean with Guadalcanal looming in the horizon
*Image of a TBD Destroyer, similar to the one Spike and Ray flew in the Solomon Islands.
Taken from: https://static.thisdayinaviation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Douglas-TBD-1-Devastator-of-VT-6-dropping-Mark-XIII-aerial-torpedo.jpg

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