Ault, William Bowen, CDR

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1941-1942, 131X, USS Lexington (CV-2)
Service Years
1917 - 1942

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
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Casualty Info
Home Town
Enterprise, OR
Last Address
Norfolk, VA

Casualty Date
May 08, 1942
Hostile-Body Not Recovered
Air Loss, Crash - Sea
Pacific Ocean
World War II
Location of Interment
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial - Manila, Philippines
Wall/Plot Coordinates

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 Unofficial Badges 

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

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. The Shoho was the first Japanese aircraft carrier sunk in World War II.

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.

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. 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." 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.

Service number: 057445

Navy Cross
Awarded for Actions During World War II
Service: Navy
Division: U.S.S. Lexington (CV-2)
General Orders: Commander In Chief Pacific Fleet: Serial 13 (June 16, 1942)
Citation: The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Commander William Bowen Ault (NSN: 0-57445), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Combat Plane and Group commander of a Navy Air Group attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON (CV-2), in action against enemy Japanese forces during the Air Battle of the Coral Sea, on 7 and 8 May 1942. Commander Ault led the air attack, carried out in the face of severe anti-aircraft barrage and heavy fighter opposition, which resulted in the complete destruction of one enemy carrier on 7 May and major damage to another on 8 May. His failure to return from the latter encounter and his courageous conduct throughout the duration of these actions were an inspiration to the entire air group. Commander Ault's outstanding courage, daring airmanship and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
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Naval Aviator Wings

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
USS Arkansas (BB-33)Naval Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API), NAS Pensacola, FLUS NavyUS Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
VO-3VP-10 Red LancersVT-1 EagletsUSS Lexington (CV-2)
NAS NorfolkUSS Mississippi (BB-41)USS Yorktown (CV-5)USS Enterprise (CV-6)
Training Squadron Six (VT-6) ShootersCommander Naval Air Forces Reserve
  1922-1924, USS Arkansas (BB-33)
  1924-1925, 139X, Naval Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API), NAS Pensacola, FL
  1925-1926, 131X, USS Cincinnati (CL-6)
  1926-1927, 131X, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  1927-1929, 131X, VO-3
  1930-1931, 131X, VP-10 Red Lancers
  1930-1931, 131X, USS Wright (AV-1)
  1932-1936, 131X, VT-1 Eaglets
  1932-1936, 131X, USS Lexington (CV-2)
  1932-1936, 131X, NAS Norfolk
  1935-1936, 131X, USS Mississippi (BB-41)
  1936-1938, 131X, USS Yorktown (CV-5)
  1938-1939, 131X, USS Enterprise (CV-6)
  1938-1939, 131X, Training Squadron Six (VT-6) Shooters
  1941-1942, 131X, USS Lexington (CV-2)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1942 East Indies Campaign (1941-42)/Battle of Sunda Strait
  1942-1942 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Bombardment - Marshall and Gilbert Islands
  1942-1942 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Battle of the Coral Sea
 Colleges Attended 
United States Naval Academy
  1918-1922, United States Naval Academy
 Military Association Memberships
World War II FallenWWII Memorial National RegistryUnited States Navy Memorial The National Gold Star Family Registry
  2018, World War II Fallen
  2018, WWII Memorial National Registry
  2018, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
  2018, The National Gold Star Family Registry
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