NOTICE: "...On 11 May 1945, two PBMs of VPB-21 were attacked off the west coast of Kyushu by 4 Japanese "George" fighters of the 343 Air Group. This group was an elite unit commanded by Capt Minoru Genda, the mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack. Lts Dick Simms and John Hook were the pilots. They were attacked by Lt Shoji Matsumura, CPO Yoshikazu Miyamoto, CPO Seiichiro Sato, and PO1c Mahito Yoshihara. They were armed with air-to-air rockets and this was the first time they employed this weapon. Lt Matsumura's rockets failed to fire, but Miyamoto and Sato successfully fired their's. Miyamoto's rockets failed to hit anything, but Sato's rocket exploded near Hook's PBM, causing extensive damage. The Japanese made some ineffective runs, then returned to base where they got chewed out by the squadron leader for not being successful. They didn't realize that Simms had to make a ditching in the sea. Luckily the crew survived and were picked up by VH-3 the next day. Co-pilot Bill Graves got a deep cut across his nose when a 20mm shell detonated inside the cockpit. Sea1c Lavernus Cottrell, the starboard waist gunner on Simms' plane, was credited with a kill. However, all 4 Georges returned to base and none were hit in combat. I'm writing a story about the Japanese 343 Air Group and it has taken me forever to piece this story together from both sides. Now, I am in need of photos to illustrate the chapter. I need to borrow photos of Dick Simms and crew, and Hooks and crew. I have everything else. I can scan the photos and return them to you via certified mail. Any help will be appreciated. PS: Does anyone know if Simms, Hook, or any crewmen from this combat are still living??...Henry Sakaida Saknsry@pacbell.net..." [26NOV2001]
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