US Lt (jg) Alexander Vraciu of Fighting Squadron 6 in his F6F Hellcat ' Gadget',USS Intrepid, 1944
Alex Vraciu, who was just 25 when he reigned as the Navy’s top WWI fighter ace after downing 19 Japanese aircraft and destroying 21 more on the ground in only eight months in 1944.
Mr. Vraciu accomplished his most spectacular feat in the South Pacific when he shot down six dive bombers within eight minutes in what became known as the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot” in the Philippine Sea. He called it “a once-in-a-lifetime fighter pilot’s dream.”
Vraciu passed in 2015 at the age of 96.
Photo by Travis Lewis