Merle William Davenport
“Butch” Merl is the only true fighter ace pictured in the snapshot. He was credited with 6 confirmed aerial victories during his time in the PTO. Merl passed away in 1989.
John Orrin Ellsworth
William Lee Landreth- The last Living Original Pilot from VF-17
From Country’s 2012 obituary:
“He grew up to pilot the powerful F4U Corsair with fighter squadron VF-17, the Jolly Rogers, and was eventually its last surviving original pilot. “Country”, as his squadron mates dubbed him, was credited with 3 kills and 1 assist while his squadron destroyed 154 planes in 76 days of combat in the South Pacific. No bomber escorted by VF-17 was lost to enemy aircraft, no ship ever hit by a bomb or aerial torpedo. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/venturacountystar/obituary.aspx?pid=158047970#sthash.OJ6tGm6u.dpuf“
Mr. Landreth eventually passed away due to complication from a WWII injury sustained during his stint with the VF-17. My heart goes out to his family. I hope they find this page and this snapshot of him with his comrades.
One thought on “WWII Snapshot – Four Pilots of Blackburn’s Jolly Rogers, VF-17 Identified F4U Corsair Pilots”
Any indication as to how Ellsworth died? I found an article about him and Davenport in the Feb 25, 1944 issue of the Kingston Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) that I’d be glad to email you.