Ault, William Bowen, CDR Fallen
 
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 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Commander
Last Primary Designator/NEC
131X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Pilot heavier than air or lighter than air
Last Rating/NEC Group
Officer
Last Duty Station
1941-1942, 131X, USS Lexington (CV-2)
Service Years
1922 - 1942
Unofficial US Navy Certificates
Order of the Golden Dragon
Panama Canal
Commander Commander

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

34 kb

Home State
Virginia
Virginia
Year of Birth
1898
 
Casualty Info
Home Town
Norfolk
Last Address
Norfolk

Casualty Date
May 08, 1942
 
Cause
Hostile, Died while Missing
Reason
Air Loss, Crash - Sea
Location
Solomon Islands
Conflict
World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Coral Sea May 4 - 8, 1942 WWII Streamer
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 




 Unofficial Badges 

Order of the Shellback Order of the Golden Dragon


 Military Association Memberships
United States Naval Academy Alumni AssociationMilitary Order of Foreign Wars of the United StatesMilitary Order of the Purple HeartMilitary Order of the World Wars (MOWW)
  1922, United States Naval Academy Alumni Association [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  1941, Military Order of Foreign Wars of the United States [Verified]
  1942, Military Order of the Purple Heart - Assoc. Page
  1945, Military Order of the World Wars (MOWW)

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Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Coral Sea May 4 - 8, 1942 WWII Streamer
Start Year
1942
End Year
1942

Description
The Battle of the Coral Sea, fought during 4–8 May 1942, was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II between the Imperial Japanese Navy and naval and air forces from the United States and Australia. The battle was the first action in which aircraft carriers engaged each other, as well as the first in which neither side's ships sighted or fired directly upon the other.

In an attempt to strengthen their defensive positioning for their empire in the South Pacific, Japanese forces decided to invade and occupy Port Moresby in New Guinea and Tulagi in the southeastern Solomon Islands. The plan to accomplish this, called Operation MO, involved several major units of Japan's Combined Fleet, including two fleet carriers and a light carrier to provide air cover for the invasion fleets, under the overall command of Japanese Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue. The US learned of the Japanese plan through signals intelligence and sent two United States Navy carrier task forces and a joint Australian-American cruiser force, under the overall command of American Admiral Frank J. Fletcher, to oppose the Japanese offensive.

On 3–4 May, Japanese forces successfully invaded and occupied Tulagi, although several of their supporting warships were surprised and sunk or damaged by aircraft from the US fleet carrier Yorktown. Now aware of the presence of US carriers in the area, the Japanese fleet carriers entered the Coral Sea with the intention of finding and destroying the Allied naval forces.

Beginning on 7 May, the carrier forces from the two sides exchanged airstrikes over two consecutive days. The first day, the US sank the Japanese light carrier Shoho, while the Japanese sank a US destroyer and heavily damaged a fleet oiler (which was later scuttled). The next day, the Japanese fleet carrier Shokaku was heavily damaged, the US fleet carrier Lexington was critically damaged (and was scuttled as a result), and the Yorktown was damaged. With both sides having suffered heavy losses in aircraft and carriers damaged or sunk, the two fleets disengaged and retired from the battle area. Because of the loss of carrier air cover, Inoue recalled the Port Moresby invasion fleet, intending to try again later.

Although a tactical victory for the Japanese in terms of ships sunk, the battle would prove to be a strategic victory for the Allies for several reasons. The battle marked the first time since the start of the war that a major Japanese advance had been checked by the Allies. More importantly, the Japanese fleet carriers Sokaku and Zuikaku – one damaged and the other with a depleted aircraft complement – were unable to participate in the Battle of Midway, which took place the following month, ensuring a rough parity in aircraft between the two adversaries and contributing significantly to the US victory in that battle. The severe losses in carriers at Midway prevented the Japanese from reattempting to invade Port Moresby from the ocean. Two months later, the Allies took advantage of Japan's resulting strategic vulnerability in the South Pacific and launched the Guadalcanal Campaign that, along with the New Guinea Campaign, eventually broke Japanese defenses in the South Pacific and was a significant contributing factor to Japan's ultimate defeat in World War II.
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Year
1942
To Year
1942
 
Last Updated:
Mar 9, 2008
   
Personal Memories

Memories
In the later Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942, as Lexington's Air Group Commander, Ault led Lexington's bombers into combat in the successful May 7 attack on the Japanese aircraft carrier Shoho, sinking the light carrier fifteen minutes after the first attack.[1][2] The Shoho was the first Japanese aircraft carrier sunk in World War II.[3][4]

Early in the morning on 8 May, Ault led the Lexington airwing's attack on the Japanese fleet carrier Shokaku. The attack was successful; the Shokaku was damaged severely enough to warrant its removal from battle and its return to base at Chuuk.[5]

Both Ault and his radio-gunner, Aviation Radioman 1st Class William T. Butler, apparently suffered wounds when Zero fighters attacked the group commander's SBD Dauntless.[6] Ault attempted to return to a friendly carrier deck, not realizing that the Lexington had taken mortal damage in his absence. Unaware of Lexington's distress, he radioed the ship at 14:49, to tell her that he had only enough gasoline for 20 minutes. Yorktown, which had taken over communications for "Lady Lex," heard Ault's broadcast but failed to pick him up on her radar. Informed that he was on his own but wished "Good luck." Ault changed course to the north, in a last vain attempt to be picked up on radar. Yorktown again wished him good luck.

Ault, perhaps aware of the fate that lay ahead, radioed : "O.K. So long, people. We put a 1,000 pound hit on the flat top."[7] No further word was received from Lexington's air group commander, and neither he nor Aviation Radioman Butler was ever seen again. No remains of his aircraft have yet been found.[8]

Both Ault and Butler were listed as Missing in Action and presumed dead on May 8, 1942.

   
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  104 Also There at This Battle:
  • Baranger, Walter, LCDR, 1949
  • Bergeron, Dallas, PO1, 1944
  • Duckworth, Herbert Spencer, VADM, 1990
  • Gayler, Noel, ADM, 1976
  • Koelndorfer, Joseph, SN, 1953
  • Nabors, Paul, S1c, 1942
  • Panks, Gerald, PO3, 1946
  • Pookphant, Torlarp, PO2, 2008
  • Tucker, Henry, PO3, 1942
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