Bassett, Edgar Rees, ENS

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Last Rank
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1942-1942, 131X, VF-3 Tomcatters
Service Years
1940 - 1942

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Year of Birth
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Casualty Info
Home Town
Philadelphia, PA
Last Address
Hartsdale, NY

Casualty Date
Jun 04, 1942
Hostile-Body Not Recovered
Air Loss, Crash - Sea
Pacific Ocean
World War II
Location of Interment
Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial - Honolulu, Hawaii
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Court 5 (cenotaph)

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 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Edgar Bassett enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve at New York City as a seaman second class on 13 February 1940. After flight training, he was commissioned as an ensign on 20 May 1941. He joined Fighting Squadron 42 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown on 9 June 1941 as the squadron was preparing for its first Neutrality Patrol cruise in the Atlantic Ocean aboard Yorktown. Bassett was considered one of the more colorful characters among the fighter pilots of Fighting Squadron 42, and remained associated with Yorktown for the rest of his life.

Bassett was noted more than once for his aggressive performance of duty in the first few months of World War II, especially for his strafing of Japanese gun emplacements and barges during the aircraft carrier raid on Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea, on 10 March 1942.

During the Battle of the Coral Sea, which took place between 4 and 8 May 1942, Bassett shot down a Mitsubishi F1M2 "Pete" floatplane over Tulagi in the Solomon Islands during the Yorktown air group attack on Japanese shipping there on 4 May and strafed the Japanese destroyer Yuzuki as she fled Tulagi harbor. On the morning of 7 May, he flew one of the fighters that protected Torpedo Squadron 5 in its attack on the Japanese aircraft carrier Shoho. That same evening, he helped to disperse a group of Japanese dive bombers and torpedo planes in the vicinity of the Yorktown task force. On the morning of 8 May, he flew combat air patrol over Task Force 17 and assisted in the downing of one Japanese plane during Japanese attack on Yorktown.

Assigned to Fighting Squadron 3 aboard Yorktown along with several other Fighting Squadron 42 pilots just before the Battle of Midway, Bassett flew one of the six Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters covering Torpedo Squadron 3 in the attack on the aircraft carriers of the Japanese Mobile Force on the morning of 4 June 1942. When the Japanese combat air patrol swarmed over the torpedo planes and their escorting fighters, Ensign Bassett was shot down in flames at the outset and killed.

Service number: 085741

Navy Cross
Awarded for Actions During World War II
Service: Navy
Battalion: Fighting Squadron 42 (VF-42)
Division: U.S.S. Yorktown (CV-5)
General Orders: Commander In Chief Pacific Fleet: Serial 2050 (May 8, 1942)
Citation: The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Ensign Edgar Rees Bassett (NSN: 0-85741), United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron FORTY-TWO (VF-42), attached to the U.S.S. YORKTOWN (CV-5), in action against Japanese forces during the period 4 to 8 May 1942. As a wingman in the division of fighters sent to protect our own aircraft bombing and torpedoing ships at Tulagi on 4 May, Ensign Bassett assisted his section leader in an attack on three enemy seaplanes and succeeded in shooting down one of them. Shortly following this action he participated in a strafing attack, pressed home in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire resulting in the setting afire and internal damaging of an enemy destroyer. On 7 May he piloted an airplane of the fighter escort for our Torpedo Planes in an attack on an enemy carrier in the Coral Sea. He assisted his section leader in driving off enemy fighter attacks on our Torpedo Planes in which action four enemy planes were shot down. This effective protection allowed our Torpedo Planes to launch torpedoes and return from their attack unharmed and resulted in the sinking of the enemy carrier. That evening he accompanied a group of our fighters which attacked and dispersed a formation of enemy scout planes and backed up his section leader in shooting down one enemy plane. On 8 May, in the Coral Sea, while pilot of a fighter in the combat air patrol, he engaged enemy fighters which appeared over our forces and assisted his section leader in their destruction. Ensign Bassett's outstanding courage and determined skill were at all times inspiring and in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
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Naval Aviator Wings

 Duty Stations
VF-42 Green PawnsUSS Yorktown (CV-5)VF-3 Tomcatters
  1941-1942, 131X, VF-42 Green Pawns
  1941-1942, USS Yorktown (CV-5)
  1942-1942, 131X, VF-3 Tomcatters
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1941 Neutrality Operations in the North Atlantic
  1942-1942 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Bombardment - Marshall and Gilbert Islands
  1942-1942 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Battle of the Coral Sea
  1942-1942 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Battle of Midway
  1942-1942 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Makin Raid
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Nov 10, 2018, General Photos1
 Military Association Memberships
WW II Memorial National RegistryUnited States Navy Memorial World War II FallenThe National Gold Star Family Registry
  2018, WW II Memorial National Registry
  2018, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
  2018, World War II Fallen
  2018, The National Gold Star Family Registry
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