Ault, William Bowen, CDR Fallen
 
 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
Wars and Conflicts/World War II/Battles/Battle of Coral Sea
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 




 Unofficial Badges 

Order of the Shellback Order of the Golden Dragon

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Conflict  :   Campaigns, Battles and Exercises
Start Year
1700
End Year
2100
Description
Node
   
Conflict  :   Wars and Conflicts
Start Year
1700
End Year
2099
Description
Conflict
   
Conflict  :   World War II
Start Year
1939
End Year
1945
Description
Overview of World War II 

World War II killed more people, involved more nations, and cost more money than any other war in history. Altogether, 70 million people served in the armed forces during the war, and 17 million combatants died. Civilian deaths were ever greater. At least 19 million Soviet civilians, 10 million Chinese, and 6 million European Jews lost their lives during the war.

World War II was truly a global war. Some 70 nations took part in the conflict, and fighting took place on the continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe, as well as on the high seas. Entire societies participated as soldiers or as war workers, while others were persecuted as victims of occupation and mass murder.

World War II cost the United States a million causalities and nearly 400,000 deaths. In both domestic and foreign affairs, its consequences were far-reaching. It ended the Depression, brought millions of married women into the workforce, initiated sweeping changes in the lives of the nation's minority groups, and dramatically expanded government's presence in American life.

The War at Home & Abroad

On September 1, 1939, World War II started when Germany invaded Poland. By November 1942, the Axis powers controlled territory from Norway to North Africa and from France to the Soviet Union. After defeating the Axis in North Africa in May 1941, the United States and its Allies invaded Sicily in July 1943 and forced Italy to surrender in September. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Allies landed in Northern France. In December, a German counteroffensive (the Battle of the Bulge) failed. Germany surrendered in May 1945.

The United States entered the war following a surprise attack by Japan on the U.S. Pacific fleet in Hawaii. The United States and its Allies halted Japanese expansion at the Battle of Midway in June 1942 and in other campaigns in the South Pacific. From 1943 to August 1945, the Allies hopped from island to island across the Central Pacific and also battled the Japanese in China, Burma, and India. Japan agreed to surrender on August 14, 1945 after the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Consequences:

1. The war ended Depression unemployment and dramatically expanded government's presence in American life. It led the federal government to create a War Production Board to oversee conversion to a wartime economy and the Office of Price Administration to set prices on many items and to supervise a rationing system.

2. During the war, African Americans, women, and Mexican Americans founded new opportunities in industry. But Japanese Americans living on the Pacific coast were relocated from their homes and placed in internment camps.

The Dawn of the Atomic Age

In 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt, warning him that the Nazis might be able to build an atomic bomb. On December 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi, an Italian refugee, produced the first self-sustained, controlled nuclear chain reaction in Chicago.

To ensure that the United States developed a bomb before Nazi Germany did, the federal government started the secret $2 billion Manhattan Project. On July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert near Alamogordo, the Manhattan Project's scientists exploded the first atomic bomb.

It was during the Potsdam negotiations that President Harry Truman learned that American scientists had tested the first atomic bomb. On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay, a B-29 Superfortress, released an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. Between 80,000 and 140,000 people were killed or fatally wounded. Three days later, a second bomb fell on Nagasaki. About 35,000 people were killed. The following day Japan sued for peace.

President Truman's defenders argued that the bombs ended the war quickly, avoiding the necessity of a costly invasion and the probable loss of tens of thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives. His critics argued that the war might have ended even without the atomic bombings. They maintained that the Japanese economy would have been strangled by a continued naval blockade, and that Japan could have been forced to surrender by conventional firebombing or by a demonstration of the atomic bomb's power.

The unleashing of nuclear power during World War II generated hope of a cheap and abundant source of energy, but it also produced anxiety among large numbers of people in the United States and around the world.
   
Battle  :   Battles
Start Year
1939
End Year
1945
Description
All battles associated with World War II.
   
Battle  :   Battle of Coral Sea
Start Year
1942
End Year
1942
Description
Recover of Solomon Islands
   
Participation
From Year
1942
To Year
1942
 
Personal Recollections

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.


Last Updated:
Mar 9, 2008
   

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