Army Air Corps Crew Chief Ed Dager Served in Pacific

This is Day 3 of Military Appreciation Week.

Today I’m featuring an excerpt of a story of Ed Dager who served in the Army Air Corps.

If you’ve just dropped in, be sure to go back and read the earlier stories of other veterans.

This blog is dedicated to telling about our amazing veterans to help us all develop a fuller appreciation of what they gave for us!

Dager’s entire story is told in my book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans.

There is also a Kindle version.

And don’t forget my Youtube channel with dozens of short videos (under 3 minutes) – all designed to grow your patriotism!

Thanks to all of our American veterans for their service to our country. We appreciate it.

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Edward Dager — Army Air Corps

In December 1944 Staff Sergeant Edward Dager, crew chief for P-38 and P-39 planes, was riding in LST-738 near the island of Mindoro. The landing ship designed for tanks was one of a group of 30 vessels landing at the island, many carrying tanks and vehicles.

Suddenly, Dager’s LST was fired on by Japanese kamikazes. “They came in fast,” he said. Dager’s LST returned anti-aircraft fire, hitting several of the planes. However, when one kamikaze slammed into Dager’s vessel, the 130 crew members were unable to control the fires. The captain ordered them to abandon ship. 

Oil from the damaged ship spread on the water. Frantic seamen scrambled away as more fires sprang up. Allied ships in the area worked together to fire on the kamikazes and rescue the LST-738’s crew.

Thankfully, no crew member died from the assault. Dager was burned on his face and right arm. He and other wounded were taken by PT boat to a hospital where they received morphine injections and other caregiving ministrations.

Everything happened so fast that Dager’s whereabouts became unknown to military officials. “My parents in Monroeville, Indiana,  received a telegram stating I had been killed in action,” he said. Thankfully, the War Department discovered the error and tried to remedy the misinformation. The next day they sent another telegram to his parents saying he was okay.

As the youngest in a family of 10, Dager had been born on a farm in 1921. He quit school to find work. In 1942 he was drafted into the Army and completed basic training at Camp Perry, Ohio. Dager was then assigned to airplane mechanic school with the Army Air Corps and later the 80th Fighter Squadron (nicknamed the “Headhunters”), 8th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force.

Dager was assigned as crew chief in charge of eight P39s and P38s. “They had four 50-caliber machine guns and a 20-millimeter cannon,” he said.

While Dager was friendly with flight crews, he kept in mind the purpose of the missions. “We were there to fight a war. We learned not to get too attached to people,” he said.

Years after one pilot whom Dager had known was declared missing in action, his daughter called Dager to ask for details about her father and his last flight. Dager willingly provided what little information he knew. “It was hard losing people,” he said. 

He was helping to launch P-38s from Okinawa in summer 1945 when President Truman ordered bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

The war ended with the surrender of the emperor in September 1945.

By November, Dager had earned enough points to be discharged.

He returned to Fort Wayne where he farmed and worked at ITT, retiring in 1985. He married in 1946 and he and his wife Marvis were parents to two daughters.

“I was in the war to do a job,” he said. “I was young and thought if I made it home, that was ok.”

The End

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